Sites of Special Scientific Interest

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 17th February 2021.

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Photo of Ruth Jones Ruth Jones Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many and what proportion of Sites of Special Scientific Interest have not received an assessment by Natural England in the last six years.

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

3,230 Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) (78% of the total number) have not had a visit to determine their condition in the last six years (since 11 February 2015), recorded on Natural England’s internal systems. Sites are visited for other purposes, such as agri-environment scheme management and to agree onsite activities such as necessary management.

In 2010 Natural England adopted a risk-based approach rather than a fixed six-year cycle. Natural England is also developing an approach to the monitoring of SSSIs which will make better use of new technologies, such as remote sensing, and greater partnership involvement, including supporting and encouraging partners in the work they themselves do to undertake SSSI condition assessments.

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