23 November 2001
Court grants review of rare bird SSSI

By FWi staff

THE High Court has granted a Norfolk farmer permission to apply for a judicial review of a decision to impose a wildlife designation on his land.

A Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) was designated near Thetford by English Nature earlier this year.

Farmers had already voluntarily co-operated with an RSPB to protect the stone curlew, an endangered species in the UK.

Numbers have doubled in 10 years, thanks to producers who avoided damaging nests and young and protected them from disturbance.

Fewer than 250 UK pairs nest each year, mostly in the Breckland area of Norfolk. English Nature wants the birds territory to become a Special Protection Area.

But Patrick Fisher of Kilverstone Hall claims the designation will have a detrimental impact on the viability of his farm.

He is now in talks with neighbouring landowners after obtaining High Court permission for a judicial review.

Sue Ellis, English Nature spokeswoman, said the SSSI designation would be “robustly defended”.

She said the government agency had a legal duty to designate areas which met relevant wildlife criteria.