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Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what progress she has made towards developing long-term disposal of high level nuclear waste referred to in the Nirex document, Managing Radioactive Waste; 
Mr. Meacher: The UK Government and Devolved Administrations published the consultation paper "Managing radioactive waste safely" on 12 September. People in the UK must have a central role in the decision on how radioactive waste is managed in the future. The paper proposes a programme of national debate and information gathering leading to decisions on the long-term management of radioactive waste, and explores how best we should organise that programme. It does not invite comments at this stage on specific optionssuch as storage or disposalbut it does summarise the main options, so people can always comment on them if they want to.
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David Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list for each county of England the disposal sites which are (a) available and (b) being used for the disposal of foot and mouth disease (i) carcases and (ii) ash from pyres. 
Mr. Morley: Over the last few weeks most carcases resulting from new cases of foot and mouth disease have been disposed of by rendering. The two rendering plants that are currently available for use for the disposal of foot and mouth disease carcases are in Bradford (West Yorkshire) and Lancaster (Lancashire). The extent to which these plants are used depends on the demand for disposal on any given day.
On the few occasions when disposal demand has exceeded available rendering capacity use has been made of licensed landfill and mass burial sites. The only licensed landfill and mass burial sites that have been used for the disposal of foot and mouth disease carcases in recent weeks are those at Hespin Wood in Cumbria and Tow Law in Co. Durham. Other licensed landfill sites and mass burial sites could be contracted or brought back into operation should additional disposal capacity be required.
Wherever possible, ash from pyres is being buried on site. Where this is not possible it is being disposed of in licensed landfill. The landfill sites in England that are being used for this purpose are at Bishops Cleeve (Gloucestershire), Calvert (Buckinghamshire), Hespin Wood (Cumbria) and Workington (Cumbria). There are no plans to use any other landfill sites for ash disposal.
Mr. Morley [holding answer 18 October 2001]: The Countryside Stewardship Scheme is already open to organic farmers. Because it is a discretionary scheme, applications are assessed and approved on the basis of the environmental benefits they can offer. This assessment process takes account of the potential additional benefits of combining Countryside Stewardship with organic farming and as a result many organic farmers have been accepted into the Scheme. Officials are also conducting a review of agri-environment schemes which will consider a range of issues including the structure of existing schemes and the interrelationship between them. The review will report in 2003.
Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will estimate the total annual value of London weightings and London living allowances for her Department; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Morley: Although different rates of basic salary apply in London the Department does not pay separate London weighting or local pay additions for staff working in London. Those were abolished on 1 October 1994.
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Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will estimate the total annual running costs for buildings used, owned or rented by her Department for each nation and region of the UK, and estimate the average cost per square metre for properties used by her Department as a whole, and by region and nation of the UK. 
|Nation/region||Total running cost||Average running cost|
|South West England||5,513,000||129|
|South East England||17,312,000||284|
|North East England||15,869,000||253|
|North West England||2,625,000||129|
Alun Michael: The farmland bird index, based on populations of 20 species, increased last year, though this may have been partly due to the relatively mild preceding winter. Expert advice is that it will take several years before we could expect to see the effects of current policy measures. Nevertheless, analysis of the underlying trend by the British Trust for Ornithology has shown that the rate of population decline is now slowing.
A number of existing policy measures will help this Department to achieve its Public Service Agreement (PSA) target to reverse the long-term decline in the number of farmland birds by 2020not least the significant expansion of our agri-environment schemes under the England Rural Development Programme. In particular, we are very hopeful that next year's national rollout of arable Countryside Stewardship options, based on the successful pilot scheme, will prove beneficial for birds.
The reasons for the decline in farmland bird numbers are complex. That is why we have commissioned research from the British Trust for Ornithology, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and Oxford University to help us identify more precisely what needs to be done to deliver the PSA target.
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Department is located in each region and nation of the UK, what the average salary is for each grade; and if she will make a statement; 
(3) if she will estimate the number of staff employed by her Department by region and nation of the UK; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) on how many occasions in each year since 1992 non-commercial flights were used by Ministers in her Department for official overseas visits; what the (a) destination, (b) Ministers involved, (c) cost and (d) reason for use of non- commercial flights were on each occasion; and if she will make a statement; 
Mr. Salmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what his policy is with regard to (a) Ministers and (b) officials in his Department giving evidence to (i) Scottish Parliament, (ii) Welsh Assembly and (iii) Northern Ireland Assembly committees; and to what categories of document he gives (A) full access, (B) restricted access and (C) no access to (1) Scottish Parliament, (2) Welsh Assembly, (3) Northern Ireland Assembly and (4) House of Commons Select Committees. 
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