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Environmentalists are claiming that 20% of designated sites of special scientific interest are not being adequately...
Environmentalists are claiming that 20% of designated sites of special scientific interest are not being adequately protected under the law, reported BBC Radio 4's Today programme. Green pressure groups are to lobby environment ministers at the Labour party conference today and Friends of the Earth has posted computer maps of all 4,000-plus SSIs and details of threats it claims each faces on its internet page.

The Today programme featured Pevesney Levels, an SSI near Hastings, one of the largest designated conservation areas and home to thousands of endangered species of wetland plants and insects. It was once internationally renowned as a breeding ground for birds, but heavy draining for agriculture means there are few species remaining. Now a small road alongside the protected areas is to be widened and turned into a bypass to remove traffic currently clogging the streets of Hastings.

Hastings BC leader Pam Brown said the bypass was essential. 'We're trying to be very green in Hastings but we need the bypass,' she said. Improving the quality of life in towns was as important as saving small areas of the countryside. 'We are not Newbury, we are Hastings. We do not deserve to have all the traffic going along the seafront. We really deserve to have our town back, please, and then we will campaign for everything that environmentalists would like to see.'
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