HC Deb 13 March 2003 vol 401 cc374-5W
Mr. Dismore

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to deregulate raptor protection. [99616]

Mr. Morley

There are no plans to deregulate raptor protection. All wild birds, including raptors are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. However, I recognise the problems presented by birds of prey to game bird managers and pigeon fanciers, and believe the recommendations from the Raptor Working Group's final report, published in 2000, will provide an integrated solution to the problems presented by birds of prey in these particular sectors.

Work is already being taken forward by the country conservation agencies, and other organisations, and includes research in Scotland examining levels of pigeon predation, at lofts and release sites and during races, and testing the feasibility of using radio tags to follow pigeons when training or racing, I look forward to hearing the results. In addition, English Nature has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Moorland Association on addressing the issue of raptor predation in the uplands.

Implementation of the Working Group's report's recommendations in Scotland and Wales is of course a matter for the devolved Administrations. Nevertheless, I have asked the Joint Nature Conservation Committee to report generally on progress.

Copies of the Raptor Working Group report are available from the Library of the House.