HL Deb 08 March 2005 vol 670 cc78-9WA
Baroness Byford

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What steps they have taken to address the deterioration in the ecological condition of the Ouse Washes Special Protection Area Ramsar site since it was placed on the Montreux record of sites undergoing adverse ecological change in October 2000. [HL1186]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty)

Since the Ouse Washes was listed by the UK on the convention's Montreux record a Ramsar advisory mission (RAM) took place in November 2001 resulting in a RAM report being submitted to Defra in January 2003. The report recognised that the complexity of problems means that there is no quick fix solution, and highlighted that long-term integrated solutions will be necessary for the Ouse Washes to be restored to a favourable condition. The report also recognised that impressive efforts had already been made by stakeholders to solve the problems on the Ouse Washes.

Defra and its agencies have continued efforts to work with stakeholders to identify and develop lasting solutions to the problems, considering the recommendations of the RAM and taking account of other studies. The Environment Agency has invested considerable sums in new sluices to help control flood water on the washes, and has been leading a working group to consider technical solutions to the problems. It has also been necessary to undertake further studies to establish the hydro-ecological requirements for the site, and to identify the long-term remedies as acknowledged by the RAM.