25 July 1997

Wide ESA variations

ENVIRONMENTALLY Sensitive Areas are successful in maintaining the traditional character of the landscape, and arresting environmental decline, but have failed to improve habitats already damaged.

The National Audit Office report on MAFFs ESA scheme, released this week, found wide variations between different areas in the level of take-up, ranging from 10% on the Essex Coast to 94% in West Penwith.

It called on MAFF to identify priority areas in each ESA and establish criteria for continued designation. Field inspectors should target farms most at risk of inflicting environmental damage. &#42