Sites of Special Scientific Interest

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 4th March 2020.

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Photo of Derek Thomas Derek Thomas Conservative, St Ives

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effect of designating a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) on local landowners; and what support he provides to landowners affected by lower property values as a result of the designation of an SSSI.

Photo of Rebecca Pow Rebecca Pow The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

A Natural England commissioned report of March 2011 examined the impact that Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) status has on land values in England. The report concluded that impacts are variable, with valuers reporting positive, negligible and negative impacts depending on the context and land use of individual cases. A copy of the report has been placed in the Library.

Notification of SSSIs falls to Natural England. It must notify all owners and occupiers where it considers an area to be of special interest. This will usually follow informal discussion with the owners and occupiers of the land, including discussion about management.

Consensus between regulators, land managers, users and other stakeholders is generally required in order to deliver positive conservation outcomes for SSSIs. Agri-environment schemes like Countryside Stewardship provide the principal funding mechanism to help land managers meet the cost of positive management to restore SSSIs to, or maintain them in, favourable condition.

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