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Agrimonetary Compensation

Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make it her policy to apply for all available agrimonetary compensation in the 2001–02 financial year; and if she will make a statement. [8631]

Mr. Morley: As stated in my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Pound) on 31 October 2001, Official Report, column 738W, we have decided not to pay the agrimonetary compensation currently available for the arable sector. Any future payments of agrimonetary compensation must be balanced against the needs of other sectors and taxpayers.

Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much EU agrimonetary compensation is available to be applied for on behalf of UK arable farmers. [9845]

Mr. Morley: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Pound) on 31 October 2001, Official Report, column 738W.

Farm Funding

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will allow English farmers to access England Rural Development Programme funding on the same basis as Welsh farmers. [12610]

Alun Michael: Separate Rural Development Plans/ Programmes have been prepared for England and Wales which reflect the particular characteristics of each country but this has been done within the common framework of measures and requirements laid down in the European Commission's Rural Development Regulation. Farmers in some parts of Wales also receive support for rural development through Structural Funds.

Environmentally Sensitive Area Status

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make

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it her policy to accord Environmentally Sensitive Area status to all national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty. [11909]

Alun Michael: Under the Agriculture Act 1986, Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESAs) may be designated where the maintenance or adoption of particular farming methods is likely to contribute to the conservation or enhancement of natural beauty, biodiversity, features, buildings or historic interest. In England, a total of 22 ESAs were designated between 1987 and 1994, many of which overlap with National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Since 1996, this Department has also operated the Countryside Stewardship Scheme which provides payments for similar objectives outside designated ESAs. There are no plans to designate any further ESAs pending the review of all agri-environment schemes which is due to begin shortly.

Business Links

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to increase the funding for Business Link schemes for three-day consultancy for farmers; and if she will make a statement. [12361]

Alun Michael [holding answer 5 November 2001]: We have recently reviewed the budget allocations for the Farm Business Advice Service. As a preliminary step, 10 per cent. of the enhanced (five-day) service budget has been switched to the core (three-day) service in order to help farmers who have been subject to Form D restrictions. Funding will not be increased this year. Consideration is being given to making further budget realignments in order that predicted demand can be met.

Stewardship Schemes

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to encourage a broader availability of stewardship schemes under the modulation and environmental subsidies scheme; and if she will make a statement. [12358]

Alun Michael [holding answer 5 November 2001]: We are planning for a major expansion of the Countryside Stewardship budget as is now well known. Under the England Rural Development Programme, expenditure on agri-environment schemes is scheduled to increase from £119 million this year to £197 million in 2006–07. This expansion is partly funded by receipts from modulation. Subject to EU approval, we also plan to introduce a number of new arable options to Countryside Stewardship next year, which will provide greater opportunities for arable farmers to join the scheme. Over the longer term, we have started a major review of agri-environment schemes which will consider a range of issues, including the scope for further broadening of the schemes. This is consistent with the Department's policy of seeking further CAP reform to redirect expenditure from agricultural subsidies towards measures to support environmentally friendly farming and the wider rural economy.

Tuberculosis

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will

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increase veterinary resources in the south-west to help against the spreading of TB; and if she will make a statement. [12355]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 5 November 2001]: Resources normally available to the State Veterinary Service in the south-west for TB testing are still, in part, diverted to foot and mouth disease control. The issue of whether extra resource will be needed in certain areas is currently being assessed within the Department.

Rendering Capacity

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to increase rendering capacity; and if she will make a statement. [12351]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 5 November 2001]: We have no immediate plans for increasing rendering capacity, but increases in rendering capacity will be thoroughly considered in our development of contingency measures for future disease outbreaks.

Flooding (Upton-upon-Severn)

Sir Michael Spicer: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will fund the provision of a pontoon bridge at Upton-upon-Severn which can be put in place in the event of flooding. [11660]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 1 November 2001]: I am not aware of a proposal for a flood defence scheme at Upton-upon-Severn and none have been submitted to this Department. To secure DEFRA funding capital works must be technically sound, economically worthwhile and environmentally acceptable, and achieve an appropriate priority score (based on an assessment of Departmental priorities, urgency and benefit:cost ratio).

British Horticulture (Greenhouse Fuels)

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will compensate British horticulture businesses for subsidies granted by Spain for greenhouse fuels; and what measures she is taking to prevent unfair competition caused by subsidy of greenhouse fuels in competition with the UK horticultural industry. [10675]

Mr. Morley: I am not aware of subsidies granted by Spain specifically for fuels used in horticultural production. In the UK, heating oil used in glasshouses is exempt from duty.

The rate of Climate Change Levy applied to energy used in horticulture in the UK has been abated by 50 per cent. for five years and we have allocated up to £5 million over three years to provide energy efficiency advice to growers to help them adjust to the full rate of levy. These measures (which require Commission approval under the state aids rules) recognise the importance of energy costs to competitive production in this sector.

Fodder and Grazing

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she received from the Arthur Rank Foundation and

6 Nov 2001 : Column: 149W

industry bodies about the price and availability of (a) fodder and (b) grazing for livestock (i) in the UK and (ii) on the Isle of Wight. [9910]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 24 October 2001]: The Arthur Rank Foundation, ADAS and industry bodies have been examining the prices and availability of fodder and grazing throughout the country. We have received information on a broad regional basis but have no specific information on the Isle of Wight. The Department has been supporting a number of charities giving support to individuals and families suffering hardship as a result of foot and mouth disease, including the Arthur Rank Foundation. A total of £13 million has been provided to such charities up to September and we have now made available a further £2 million to the end of the year.

Groundwater

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement in respect of the requirement on manufacturing industries to prevent the release of hazardous substances into water and the policy of Ofwat in respect of contaminants penetrating underlying aquifers to significant depths. [11383]

Mr. Meacher: Under various powers contained in the Water Resources Act 1991, the Water Industry Act 1991, the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and regulations made under the Pollution Prevention and Control Act 2000, discharges from manufacturing industries to sewer and controlled waters require written authorisation from, respectively, the sewerage undertaker and the Environment Agency. Conditions in these authorisations are set in order to protect receiving waters from polluting substances. The Agency also has powers to prevent polluting activities. Ofwat has no direct responsibilities for discharge consents or associated standards.

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps she is taking to protect groundwater resources from known sources of contamination. [11379]

Mr. Meacher: The Government have, through the Groundwater Regulations 1998 and the Anti-Pollution Works Notices Regulations 1999, increased the powers available to the Environment Agency to protect groundwater resources. In addition the Government have issued, under Regulation 21 of the Groundwater Regulations, a groundwater protection code of practice on the use and disposal of sheep dip. A draft code for petrol stations and underground storage tanks has been to public consultation and work is under way on codes for potential sources of contamination.


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