The UK launches government policy for Ramsar sites in England


Reprints of the press release and policy statement

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Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions


News Release 695: 14 November 2000

Improving wetland protection: Meacher issues definitive statement on Ramsar sites

Moves to give the highest possible level of protection to England's wetland sites listed under the Ramsar Convention were announced today by Environment Minister Michael Meacher.

This means over 361,000 hectares in England of habitat for rare birds and other wildlife will have not only unparalleled protection against development, but a guarantee of successful replacement in the rare circumstances that development is permitted.

New, comprehensive policy guidance on the protection and management of English Ramsar sites, published today, reinforces the message that development of these sites will be allowed only in the rarest circumstances. If, unusually, consent is given to development, lost wetlands interests will have to be replaced, by restoring and recreating habitats. The Government also expects that developers will have to agree and bear the cost of these compensatory packages, under the polluter pays principle.

Mr Meacher said:

"This is a major and timely initiative which will ensure some of the best and most fragile our international sites are given the attention they deserve. It complements the provisions for enhancing the management and protection of Sites of Special Scientific Interest in the Countryside and Rights of Way Bill."

Notes to editors

1. The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat (the 'Ramsar Convention'), signed in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971, is an intergovernmental treaty which provides the framework for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources by national action and international co-operation as a contribution to achieving sustainable development throughout the world. The Convention seeks to conserve wetlands and wetland interests through the listing of sites on the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance.

2. This statement sets out the Government's policies for the protection and management of Ramsar sites in England and gives these sites broad equivalence to those designated under the Birds and Habitats Directive as part of the Natura 2000 network. The statement fulfils Government's commitment to look again at the protection of Ramsar sites contained in Proposal 13 of the consultation paper 'Sites of Scientific Interest : Better Protection and management' issued in September 1998. Matters relating to the management and protection of Ramsar sites in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland fall to the devolved administrations of those countries.

Media enquiries 020 7944 3041; Out of hours: 020 7944 5925 or 5945 Public Enquiries Unit 020 7944 3000 E-mail: Web site

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