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Water and Sewerage Services (Worcestershire)

Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the implications of recent price settlements imposed by Ofwat on investment in water and sewerage services in Worcestershire; and if she will make a statement. [13219]

Mr. Meacher: In 1999 the Director General of Water Services (Ofwat) determined price limits for water and sewerage companies in England and Wales for the five years beginning on 1 April 2000. Worcestershire is within the area served by Severn Trent Water. In setting price limits for Severn Trent Water, the Director General made provision for an annual average capital investment of £391 million (May 1999 prices) over the five year review period. This is set out in "Future water and sewerage

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charges 2000–05" in the House of Commons Library. Within this framework companies decide their priorities for meeting their planned outputs.

Condensing Boilers

Mr. Win Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate she has made of the (a) energy saving and (b) pollution cutting potential of replacing conventional boilers in the UK with condensing boilers. [12938]

Mr. Meacher [holding answer 8 November 2001]: The Government are keen to promote the installation of condensing boilers when conventional ones are replaced. The benefits of condensing boilers are likely to be attractive to energy suppliers in meeting their requirements under the Energy Efficiency Commitment for 2002–05. Under the Home Energy Efficiency Scheme (HEES) the new central heating systems provided use condensing boilers whenever possible.

The energy and carbon savings, which could be achieved if the entire UK stock of conventional boilers were replaced by condensing boilers, are estimated to be as follows:

Building typeEnergy savings(31)Carbon savings(32)
Domestic stock
Gas fired2573.78
Oil fired15.50.3
Commercial and public sector500.8

(31) Peta joules/year

(32) Million tonnes of carbon/year

Border Inspection Posts

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what powers she has to monitor the effectiveness and performance of border inspection posts. [13276]

Margaret Beckett [holding answer 8 November 2001]: The local authority are responsible for ensuring that the checks at border inspection posts (BIPs) are carried out to the standards specified in community legislation.

The Products of Animal Origin (Import and Export) Regulations 1996 contains provision for an authorised officer (of the Minister) to audit the local authorities' operation of border inspection posts. This includes checking whether staff comply with the requirements of the regulations, taking samples and the examination of documentary or computer material.

The regulations also require the local authority to provide detailed information on the products checked at the BIP and the outcome of those checks.

Local authorities are required to report on these activities through the Divisional Veterinary Managers of DEFRA. DEFRA staff work closely with the authorities in carrying out these inspection responsibilities.

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The Food Standards Agency commenced an audit programme of local authorities on 1 April 2001 and where applicable this will include an audit of the BIP.

Countryside Access

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list the separate commencement dates made under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 to allow access to the open countryside as soon as practicable after the conclusive maps have been completed and approved for each region. [13868]

Alun Michael: The following provisions in Part 1 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 came into force on 30 January 2001: section 1 and Schedule 1, sections 3 to 11 and Schedule 3, sections 15 to 17, section 19, Chapters II and III, and sections 40 to 45. The commencement of these provisions enabled the Countryside Agency to begin preparation of and consultation on draft maps of open country and registered common land.

The right of access, in section 2(1), has not yet been brought into effect. We are committed to opening up all open country and registered common land by the end of 2005, but the Act allows for the right to be commenced at different times in different areas, so it would be possible to give people new rights of access to some areas of land before then. I am considering the option of regional commencement, and hope to make an announcement on this before the end of the year.

Water Conservation

Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent action she has taken to promote water conservation; and if she will make a statement. [13886]

Mr. Meacher: The Government promote water efficiency by a variety of means including through the Environment Agency's National Water Demand Management Centre, the Water Fittings Regulations, Envirowise, the Market Transformation programme, the Buying Agency's Watermark project, leakage targets for water companies, maintenance of a database of water efficiency research, and through on-going discussions with Ofwat, the Environment Agency and the water industry. The draft Water Bill contains provisions for a new duty on water undertakers to take water efficiency into account in the full range of their plans and activities.

Landfill Tax

Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what environmental projects have been successfully completed as a result of revenue from the landfill tax credit scheme in (a) 1999–2000 and (b) 2000–01. [13879]

Mr. Meacher: Detailed information on individual projects and the amount of funding they have received is available from ENTRUST, the regulatory body for the landfill tax credit scheme.

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The numbers of completed projects in the years 1999, 2000 and 2001 are:

A Reclamation of contaminated land15199
B Reduction/prevention of pollution of land260
C Sustainable waste management188225165
D Provision of public parks and amenities722994763
E Restoration of historical buildings188309244
F Provision of services between environmental bodies212

Waste Management

Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent action the Government have taken to minimise waste in the UK; and if she will make a statement. [13880]

Mr. Meacher: Tackling the amount of waste produced is the first priority in the hierarchy for waste management decisions set out in the Government's Waste Strategy 2000. Action already taken aimed at encouraging waste minimisation includes Government support for the National Waste Awareness Initiative and guidance to local authorities on their powers under the Waste Minimisation Act 1998.

The Government have implemented the Packaging Directive and a voluntary agreement on newsprint. Further legislation on electrical and electronic equipment and batteries will follow, and a voluntary agreement on direct mail. These are all designed to reduce the amount of waste arising from these products.

The Envirowise programme, jointly funded by DTI and DEFRA, supports policy objectives to reduce waste and increase efforts to reduce waste at source (eg by more efficient use of raw materials) through advice to businesses.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the International Energy Agency report, Spain 2001, in relation to the ability of EU member states to address their greenhouse gas emissions obligations; and if she will make a statement. [13908]

Mr. Meacher: Spain's target under the Kyoto protocol is to limit greenhouse gas emissions to 15 per cent. over 1990 levels by 2008–12. Until Spain publishes its climate change programme, it is not possible to comment on Spain's progress towards meeting its target.

The European Community and its member states are already taking action to ensure that they meet their respective targets under the Kyoto protocol. Between 1990 and 1998, the Community's emissions fell by 2.5 per cent. More work is needed to reach the Community's target reduction of 8 per cent. below 1990 levels by 2008–12, but this is in hand both at the member state and Community level.

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Climate Change

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps she has taken to encourage United States participation in the climate change negotiations in Marrakech. [14254]

Mr. Meacher: The United States participated in the negotiations in Marrakech as a party to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. It is important that the United States remain engaged in global efforts to tackle climate change. We have kept the door open for them should they decide to re-engage with the Kyoto process in the future, and we are encouraging them to take domestic action consistent with the aims of Kyoto in the meantime. We take every appropriate opportunity to raise climate change with the US. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State discussed climate change in meetings with Christine Todd Whitman, Administrator of the US Environmental Protection Agency, on 1 November and in a meeting on 8 November in Marrakech, with Paula Dobriansky, the Under Secretary for Global Affairs, Department of State. We expect this dialogue with the US to continue.

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