Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee

Session 2003-04
15 July 2004 Sites of Special Scientific Interest: Committee publishes its report

15 July 2004 Sites of Special Scientific Interest: Committee publishes its report

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee has today published a report into the progress made towards meeting the Government's target of having 95% of England's most important wildlife sites-known as Sites of Special Scientific Interest-in favourable condition by 2010.

The Committee welcomes the Government's recognition of the value and importance of SSSIs. The Government, English Nature and the owners and managers of SSSIs have made some admirable early progress towards what is a challenging target.

However, the Committee is concerned that the target will be missed unless some far-reaching changes are made. In particular:

  • Agri-environment schemes need to be better targeted;

  • the Government's broader environmental policies, particularly on freshwater and coastal ecosystems need to take wildlife into account more; and

  • Public bodies  need greater awareness of their responsibilities with respect to SSSIs.

We are concerned that there may not be enough funding to make these changes and reach the target.

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NOTES FOR EDITORS

The report follows an inquiry announced on 16 February 2004 and conducted in March and April 2004. The Committee appointed a Sub-Committee to conduct the inquiry, under the chairmanship of Mr David Lepper MP.

The full report will be available on our website from around 3.30 pm on 15 July.