§ Paddy Tipping
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what discussions have taken place with the Countryside Agency about the assessment of European sites designated under the Conservation (Natural Habitats Act etc) Regulations 1994; and whether sites in the south-east and central southern regions will be assessed before the commencement of access arising from the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 in the summer of 2004; 
(2) what information the Countryside Agency has received from English Nature to enable it to make appropriate assessments of European sites in the south-east and central southern regions of England under the Conservation (Natural Habitats Act etc) Regulations 1994; when the information was received; and when the assessments will be completed. 
§ Alun Michael
The Countryside Agency has worked closely with English Nature to adopt an agreed approach in relation to nature conservation and access land. This is embodied in a heads of agreement signed between the agency and English Nature on 10 July 2000, in which both organisations agreed to work together to facilitate improved access and safeguard nature conservation interests.773W
The agency and English Nature have agreed a detailed process to assess European sites designated under the Conservation (Natural Habitats Act etc.) Regulations 1994.
English Nature has undertaken audits of all European sites designated under these regulations in the south-east and central southern mapping areas and has provided advice to the agency, in July 2001 and February 2003, on 99 sites which contain features that are potentially vulnerable to public access under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.
The agency will complete the assessments for these sites before access commences in these two mapping areas.