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Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations she has received on increasing the Bellwin scheme for parts of North Yorkshire and the City of York most seriously affected by floods in November 2000. 
To date North Yorkshire county council has requested assistance through the Bellwin scheme in connection with three separate events: the severe weather events during October to December 2000; the train crash at Great Heck and more recently with the foot and mouth disease outbreak.
In the case of the October to December severe weather events scheme, North Yorkshire did not take up the offer of an advance payment. Payment will be made within 15 days of receipt of its audited claim.
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Officials are currently looking into the circumstances of claims from North Yorkshire county council and North Yorkshire police authority for assistance with the emergency clear-up costs following the train crash at Great Heck. It is hoped that a decision on whether to activate a scheme will be reached soon.
On 24 April, the then Under-Secretary of State, my hon. Friend the Member for Stretford and Urmston (Beverley Hughes), announced the activation of the Bellwin scheme to provide emergency financial assistance to local authorities to help them meet some of the costs of responding to outbreaks of foot and mouth disease. North Yorkshire county council has registered an intention to make a claim under that scheme.
The City of York asked for assistance through the October to December severe weather scheme. It applied for an advance of grant for 80 per cent. of eligible costs above threshold and payment was made within 15 working days of receipt of a claim.
Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the adequacy of resources available to port health authorities to protect the UK from infected foodstuffs. 
Imports of food of animal origin such as meat and meat products are subject to harmonised European Union legislation. Such products must enter the EU through a border inspection post (BIP) and are subject to specified import checks. The costs of these inspections are charged to importers. The performance of BIPs is audited by the European Commission's Food and Veterinary Office and monitored by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
The inspection of imported food of non-animal origin such as fruit and vegetables is not a harmonised EU area and the regulations are national legislation. Such inspections are not funded through the charge of fees to importers. These costs fall to the local authority that has responsibility for a particular port health authority. The Food Standards Agency monitors general food enforcement activity by all local authorities, including port health authorities, and has recently begun a programme of audits to provide more detailed information on enforcement standards. Local authorities would be expected to take notice of the outcome of the audits and any recommendations made.
The FSA is aware of concerns about imported food. The FSA is carrying out a review of import controls and will make recommendations. The FSA is also working closely with port health authorities to encourage more effective and consistent enforcement of food law. This includes involvement in a benchmarking exercise recently started by the Association of Port Health Authorities, the representative body for port health authorities, aimed at producing a more uniform approach to service levels,
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Mr. Meacher: (a) There are no plans to reform the law on fly tipping. The Government have put in place strict controls to ensure that waste is disposed of safely and the penalties for contravention of these controls are severe. The action being taken by the Government on fly tipping, and other forms of illegal waste disposal, was set out most recently in the Government's response to the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Committee's Report on the Environment Agency (Cm 4832paragraphs 5560).
(b) A review has been carried out into the current legislation covering abandoned vehicles in order to meet our manifesto commitment that the system for removal of untaxed and abandoned cars would be streamlined. We will be consulting on possible changes to the Removal and Disposal of Vehicles Regulations 1986 later this summer.
Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on progress made to date by British Nuclear Fuels in meeting its obligations to reduce radioactive discharges under the 1998 Sintra Agreement of the Ospar Commission. 
Mr. Meacher: The Government are committed to meeting the obligations they entered into at Sintra and have demonstrated this, with regard to radioactive substances, by issuing for consultation last year a draft UK Strategy for Radioactive Discharges 200120. The final strategy will be published later this year. It will take account of information on discharges provided by British Nuclear Fuels, including that provided to the Environment Agency in the context of its current review of the Sellafield site.
Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will place in the Library copies of (a) UK submissions and (b) other submissions with relevance to the United Kingdom to the Ospar meeting held in Valencia on 25 and 28 June. 
Mr. Meacher: I am arranging for copies of the Summary Record of the recent Ospar meeting to be placed in the Libraries of the House. This is a full record of the issues discussed and the decisions reached at the meeting held in Valencia on 25 to 29 June. The Summary Record is also available on the Ospar website: www.ospar.org.
Mr. McGrady: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if a licence will be issued to British Nuclear Fuels to operate the mixed oxide plant at Sellafield; and if she will make a statement. 
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Mr. Meacher: The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Secretary of State for Health will decide whether the operation of Sellafield mixed oxide plant is justified when they have considered all relevant issues. First, we intend to publish for public comment the report of our independent consultants Arthur D. Little Ltd., as I said in my answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Bury, North (Mr. Chaytor), 27 June 2001, Official Report, column 109W.
Mr. McGrady: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what information was provided by the Government in the recent consultation process on the mixed oxide plant at the Sellafield reprocessing plant; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Meacher: On 28 March the Government published a consultant paper, "British Nuclear Fuels plcSellafield Mixed Oxide Plant". This included a copy of the Government's previous consultation exercise in 1999, a copy of BNFL's economic and commercial justification for the plant, a copy of BNFL's March 2001 MOX market review and an endorsement of the review by the Department of Trade and Industry. The paper and annexes were placed in the House Library on 28 March.
Margaret Moran: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the cost was of disposing of abandoned vehicles in (a) Luton and (b) all local authorities in England in each of the last four years. 
The Department holds no central records of the costs for individual authorities of disposing of abandoned vehicles each year but is considering what further information on abandoned vehicles can be collected in the next Municipal Waste Management Survey later this year.
Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) if she will publish a list of the uses made of potentially contaminated ash from Pitsea tip and the locations involved in each particular use; 
Mr. Meacher [holding answer 13 July 2001]: I understand that deposits of mixed bottom ash and precipator ash at the Pitsea landfill site began in early 1998 under the terms of its waste management licence. In the course of its supervision and inspection of the site, the Environment Agency became aware of the use of this ash to provide temporary cover for household waste. The Agency estimated the dioxin levels in the mixed ash to be 735 ng/kg. In the light of these estimates, the Agency wrote to the licence holder in July 1998 instructing them to cease using the mixed ash as cover material. Subsequent supervision and inspection of the site by the
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Agency confirmed that (a) the use of the mixed ash as temporary cover ceased in July 1998 and (b) acceptance of the ash for disposal at the site ceased by the end of 1998.
The Environment Agency is carrying out a thorough investigation into the destinations of ash from municipal waste incinerators and a report will be published by the Agency on completion of its investigation. The Agency has no evidence that ash accepted at the Pitsea landfill site was subsequently consigned from the site for use elsewhere. However, the Agency will address this possibility in the context of its current investigation.
Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the extent to which ash from (a) Pitsea tip and (b) the Edmonton incinerator has been used in (i) civil engineering, (ii) other construction works and (iii) the manufacture of blocks for building, in Castle Point; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Meacher [holding answer 16 July 2001]: The Environment Agency is carrying out a thorough investigation into the destinations of ash from municipal waste incinerators, the environmental implications of its use and what steps may be needed in the light of these findings. A report will be published by the Agency on completion of its investigation. The Agency has no evidence that ash accepted at the Pitsea landfill site was subsequently consigned from the site for use elsewhere. However, the Agency will address this possibility in the context of its current investigation.
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