§ Malcolm Bruce
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps have been taken to assess the(a) environmental, (b) economic 133W and (c) economic impacts of exploiting natural resources in environmentally fragile ecosystems; and what account these have taken of research on the circumstances of those areas assessed. 
§ Mr. Meacher
In the appraisal of policies it is standard practice within DEFRA to consider the economic, social and environmental impacts of policy options, taking into account all relevant information. This will include the results of research relating to the area being assessed.
The environmental effects of development proposals are assessed in accordance with the EU Environmental Impacts Assessment Directive, and the Wild Birds and Habitats Directives. Consenting regimes take account of factors shown by environmental assessment by setting conditions to monitor and mitigate possible impacts on these fragile ecosystems. Additionally, in the marine zone we are working through the OSPAR Convention to develop and pilot ecological quality objectives for threatened and fragile ecosystems.