§ Baroness Hilton of Eggardon
asked Her Majesty's Government:
How they intend to ensure that agri-environment schemes contain mechanisms for identifying ponds for high priority for nature conservation. [HL128]
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty)
There are already a number of systems in use for identifying ponds as high priority for nature conservation:
Government departments responsible for delivering agri-environment schemes have access to biodiversity records from geographic information systems (GIS) and other national databases.
Local and regional records are utilised when appropriate and by local arrangement.
Agri-environment schemes such as Countryside Stewardship use regular liaison meetings and a targeting process to identify priority habitats and species. Partner organisations such as the wildlife trusts and the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group often assist scheme applications by providing biodiversity information.
Defra's Rural Development Service (RDS), which is the principal delivery service for agri-environment schemes in England, has a reputation for providing high quality ecological advice to potential agreement holders. RDS advisers are able to identify high quality habitats such as ponds when they visit a site to assess an application.