23 November 2001

Court grants SSSI review

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 after farmers voluntarily co-operated with an RSPB scheme to protect stone curlew nests. The bird is endangered in the UK with fewer than 150 pairs nesting each year,most 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 in talks with neighbouring landowners after obtaining High Court permission for a judicial review.

Sue Ellis, English Nature spokes-woman, 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. &#42