HC Deb 21 July 2000 vol 354 cc354-5W
Mr. Llew Smith

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what steps he has taken to improve the protection of inter-tidal wetlands. [131991]

Mr. Mullin

The Countryside and Rights of Way Bill, currently before Parliament, contains provisions to enhance the protection given to Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), including those designated for wetland interests in the inter-tidal area. The Bill will provide for, among other things, for a more structured approach to management advice and a new power to refuse consent for damaging activities, the development of management schemes to help combat neglect, the introduction of management notices, increased penalties for deliberate damage, a new court power to order restoration of the damaged special interest, where this is practicable; and a new general offence to apply to damage by any person. In addition, public bodies will be under a statutory duty to further the conservation and enhancement of SSSIs, both in carrying out their operations and exercising their decision-making functions.

My Department has also set up a review to evaluate the success of previous statutory and voluntary marine nature conservation measures and to put forward proposals for improving marine nature conservation in England. Among other things, this involves looking at the protection currently afforded to inter-tidal areas. The Review may also inform separate proposals for marine conservation in Wales.