21 July 1997
Government promises new review of countryside
The government is promising the first full review of wildlife
legislation for 15 years. It follows a number of cases where some of
Britains 6,000 supposedly protected sites have been legally
Michael Meacher, the Environment minister, says the 1981 Wildlife and
Countryside Act needs to be revised and strengthened. Meacher said he
was concerned by the recent case of a Sussex farmer, Julian Harmer, who
was given protection by English Nature to plough up two special interest
sites at Offham, near Lewes. Sites of special scientific interest (SSIs)
are just identified as significant rather than protected under the 1981
Act. Protection relies on a voluntary principle.
English Nature has already set up a review body to look at loopholes
in the existing law.