HL Deb 26 January 2005 vol 668 cc166-8WA
Lord Fearn

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What role English Nature plays in the protection of English coastline areas; and whether public consultation is invariably held in cases where work is carried out at the request of English Nature.[HL818]

Lord Whitty

English Nature has a statutory role in the selection and management of designated sites both at the coast and inland. There are around 380 coastal Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs). English Nature is required to consult widely over the designation of SSSIs, and is continuing to improve the openness and transparency of the designation process for all stakeholders. These procedures are set out in the Government'sSites of Special Scientific Interest: Encouraging Positive Partnership—Code of Guidance published by my department in 2003. For each SSSI there is a list of operations where consultation is required. This consultation is either between English Nature and the owner-occupier, or, where another public body is the consenting authority, between that body and English Nature. English Nature is a statutory consultee in respect of plans and projects likely to affect SSSIs or internationally important sites.

English Nature is currently in the process of producing its maritime strategy. This will inform the revision of English Nature's coastal policy and has been subject to a wide public consultation process in 2004. Communication is a key element of this strategy, in particular to improve the wider understanding of English Nature's approach to sustainable coastal management.