HC Deb 10 July 2003 vol 408 cc925-6W
Mr. Kidney

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what plans she has to publish guidance on establishing a common approach to managing local wildlife sites; [124250]

(2) what recent representations she has received from local authorities about the actions required to promote and protect local wildlife sites. [124352]

Mr. Bradshaw

Officials in this Department and English Nature have been drawing up guidance on local wildlife sites taking into account the work of the Local Sites Review Group, which among others comprised representatives from the Local Government Association, Welsh Local Government Association and the Association of Local Government Ecologists. The aim is to provide a framework to help establish a consistent approach to the identification and management of these sites. During the course of this work, a number of representations have also been received from individual local authorities.

We are in the process of finalising this guidance and we aim to publish it before the end of the year.

Mr. Kidney

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many local wildlife sites are managed by the wildlife trusts; what funding her Department gives to the wildlife trusts for this purpose; and what information her Department receives from the wildlife trusts about their performance. [124251]

Mr. Bradshaw

I understand from the Wildlife Trusts' publication "Status of UK Wildlife Site Systems 2002" that there are 76 local wildlife site systems in operation across England, which have selected 34,965 sites. The Wildlife Trusts lead or are a lead partner in 82 per cent. of these systems.

The Department does not provide direct funding for the management of local wildlife sites. However English Nature has provided local Wildlife Trusts with 767,000 under its Wildspace grants scheme, for the management of many local nature reserves in order to help local communities enjoy, care for and improve their local wildlife resources.

The Department does provide funding to the UK Office of the Wildlife Trusts towards the co-ordination of their conservation strategy and policy for the organisation. This includes work on planning, biodiversity and marine wildlife conservation. Last year we announced that funding totalling £675,000 would be provided over three years. The grant is paid on a quarterly basis and on the production of quarterly performance reports, based on targets agreed in a work programme at the beginning of the year.

In addition between 2002 and 2004 some £637,020 will be provided to 10 County Wildlife Trusts to enable them to co-ordinate and contribute to the delivery of local and regional biodiversity action plans.

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