§ Mr. Soames
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what are the main policy objectives of his Department in the field of conservation for 1985.
§ Mr. Waldegrave
In 1985 we shall be aiming to build on the achievements of the last 12 months, and our major objectives in the conservation sphere will be:
- — to ensure that, in the light of the overall resources available, the statutory conservation agencies are given the resources necessary to fulfil their statutory responsibilities;
- — to ensure that my Department's statutory functions continue to be exercised in the best interests of the heritage, in consultation and co-operation with my noble Friend the Minister for the Arts;
- — to consider the Select Committee on the Environment's report on the operation of part II of the Wildlife and Countryside Act and, in consultation with others, issue the Government's response;
- — to respond to the Countryside Commission's report "A Better Future for the Uplands";
- — to continue to encourage and support the work of the national park authorities;
- — subject to the outcome of consultations currently in progress, to extend the application of section 41 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act to the Broads;
- — to participate further in the work of the Common Land Forum, aimed at producing agreed proposals for further common land legislation;
- — to maintain the high level of inspections of keepers of captive birds in a continuing attempt to eliminate malpractice, and increase the level of scrutiny of sellers of dead birds;
- — to continue to provide maximum assistance to enforcement agencies responsible for species conservation at home and abroad;
- — to continue to work closely with voluntary and professional bodies concerned with the conservation of the countryside, the natural heritage and the built environment;
- — to notify the Bonn convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Fauna;
- — to improve both the quality and efficiency of my Department's endangered species work by computerising the licensing systems during 1985, and to implement the
by local authorities, it is estimated that capital expenditure by local authorities by region in England, in respect of advances and grants to industrial and commercial enterprises, and in respect of industrial estates for the financial years 1979–80 to 1983–84 was as follows:
- proposals to restrict illegal trade in ivory which we hope will be agreed, with UK support, at the CITES conference in the spring. A specialist publicity leaflet on endangered plants will also be published, as a UK contribution to the World Wildlife Fund's international campaign on plants.
- — to ensure that the arrangements made for the management and disposal of household, commercial, industrial and other non-radioactive wastes are adequate and meet acceptable safety, health and amenity standards. To promote efficiency and economy in waste management services.
- — the Government will continue to ensure that all necessary steps are taken for the safe meeting of the radioactive wastes that already exist and those that may be created in the future.
- — water quality will continue to be maintained and improved.
§ Mr. Soames
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what were the main achievements of his Department in the field of conservation in 1984.
§ Mr. Waldegrave
During 1984 the Government have taken a number of important steps to underline its commitment to and to further the conservation of the natural and the built environment. In particular, we have:
- — set up the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission to secure the preservation of historic buildings and ancient monuments in England and to promote public knowledge and enjoyment of the heritage;
- — set up the Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust Ltd. with the duty to preserve, promote and manage the historic dockyard as a "living dockyard";
- — begun the second phase of the accelerated re-survey to identify buildings of special architectural or historical interest, and during the year, the number of listed buildings rose from 309,000 to 338,000;
- — secured the future of Calke Abbey by its acceptance in lieu of tax and its allocation to the National Trust with the benefit of support from the National Heritage Memorial Fund;
- — substantially increased the number of inspections of premises of breeders of birds of prey to some 1,300 in 1984. This intensification of effort was aimed at minimising the opportunities for feeding into the registration system illegally taken eggs and young;
- — assisted national enforcement agencies in some 204 cases in enforcing the birds protection provisions of the Wildlife and Countryside Act;
- — Ratified (i) the Paris protocol to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as waterfowl habitats, and (ii) the UNESCO convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage;
- — announced our intention to provide substantial additional
157 funds for the statutory conservation agencies in the forthcoming financial year;
- — obtained the support of the EC Council of Ministers to request the Commission to report on the relationship between policies for agriculture and for the environment;
- — supported the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in the Government's initiative to insert a new title in the EC regulation on agricultural structures currently under consideration;
- — announced support in principle for a statutory Broads Authority;
- — authorised the Countryside Commission to pay an enhanced level of grant-aid for management agreemens to conserve the traditional landscape of the Broads;
- — continued to support and initiate relevant research projects (for example into the extent of landscape change);
- — continued to work closely with the Nature Conservancy Council in designating sites of special scientific interest. To date some 1,381 sites have been designated, and over 160 management agreements to safeguard some 68,000 hectares of land have been made. A further 600 agreements currently in the pipeline;
- — made nature conservation orders to secure the protection of four nationally important conservation sites which were under threat;
- — designated three areas of special protection of birds under the Wildlife and Countryside Act;
- — continued to give strict protection to endangered wildlife, particularly through the new EC regulation implementing the convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and by taking a leading part in preparing proposals to curb illegal international trade in ivory, which will be considered at the next CITES conference in 1985;
- — 1984 saw the first year's full operation of the Department's Hazardous Wastes Inspectorate, whose aim is to assist local authorities and other bodies to obtain high standards of waste management. Substantial progress has been made in reviewing national legislation and preparing further guidance. In the international field agreement was obtained for an EC directive and also OECD guidelines on transfrontier movement of hazardous wastes;
- — The Government announced in December a programme of further major reductions in radioactive discharges from BNFL's nuclear reprocessing plant at Sellafield. In April the Government, in conjunction with the TUC, set up an independent review into the disposal of radioactive waste in the north east Atlantic. The review's report was published in December and the Government have accepted all its recommendations;
- — In 1984 water quality has been maintained and — as resources permit—improved. From the end of this month all the main features of the Control of Pollution Act 1974 part II will be in place. These include public involvement in decisions on discharge consents, and the extension of control to all inland, underground, estuarial and coastal waters.