6 December 1996

ESAs criticised for frozen landscapes

MAFFs environmentally-sensitive areas scheme has come under fire from the governments countryside and landscape advisory service for not providing enough environmental benefits.

The Countryside Commission has accused the government of freezing landscapes and farming practices within its ESA policy, which costs an estimated £40.2m/year in England, rather than moving with the times.

"We believe they should not seek to fossilize the areas designated, but to identify the environmental values and potential within each area and use it to develop a future vision for the area which the scheme payments actively promote," said a commission spokesman.

Janet Dwyer, Countryside Commission senior countryside officer, cited five ESAs where improvements could be made.n