In my statement to the House of 15 January, I explained the steps that I had taken to improve the first five environmentally sensitive areas designated in 1987, my plans for reviewing this year those ESAs designated in 1988, including any boundary adjustments, and my timetable for designating a further 12 areas this year and in 1993.
Will my right hon. Friend accept that the new, enhanced payments for those who take up ESAs and the improvements in the scheme are widely welcomed by the farmers concerned? Does he agree that the scheme must remain voluntary if it is to retain its value? Will he, if it remains voluntary, reassure farmers who would like to take up the scheme that the payments will not be reduced during the period for which they take it up—that is, for five or even 10 years? Does he appreciate that the great advantage of the scheme in the Somerset Levels, which I represent and where I live, is that all parties interested in the conservation of the wildlife and landscape of the area are sitting down and talking together? That represents a great advance and we believe that, in the long term, something valuable will come of that.
My hon. Friend has put his finger on a major advantage of the situation, which is that conservationists and farmers in environmentally sensitive areas are learning to work together. I hope that the changes in the Somerset Levels will do a great deal to ensure that the area is much improved for wading birds. We are watching the situation carefully to make sure that that is the effect.
As I have announced, total spending will be about —65 million a year. A large amount of new money will go into the new areas. When we have completed the prescriptions, we shall be able to give a detailed account of how much will be spent in each ESA, so that details of the total amount will be in the public domain.