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Mr. Lazarowicz: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions she has had with the Scottish Minister regarding Scotland's contribution to United Kingdom targets on sustainable development. 
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Mr. Meacher: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has not met Scottish Ministers specifically to discuss these matters, although the Department works closely with the Scottish Executive on sustainable development issues. Scotland's contribution is reflected as appropriate in the UK Government's annual reports on our Sustainable Development Strategy, copies of which are available in the Library of the House.
Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps the Government are taking to introduce the concept of Rural Ministers in different Government Departments. 
Alun Michael: The Government consider it important that all Ministers in Home Departments are alert to the implications of their policies and programmes for people living in rural areas rather than introducing such a specific designation. The Department and I, assisted by the Countryside Agency, ensure that all major policies are assessed for their rural impact through the "rural- proofing" process described in "Our Countryside: the future" (Cmnd 4909). The Cabinet Sub-committee on Rural Renewal, chaired by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, and on which relevant Departments are represented, will oversee the effectiveness of the "rural- proofing" process.
Mr. Morley [holding answer 16 November 2001]: DEFRA's public service agreement target on efficiency is to achieve a reduction of 10 per cent. in the unit cost of administering CAP payments by March 2004, and 95 per cent. electronic service delivery capability for such payments by March 2004. We are currently on track to meet this commitment by December 2004 and the recent creation of the Rural Payments Agency will play a crucial part in delivering this.
Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations she has made to (a) her French counterpart and (b) the European Commission regarding proposals to ban beef imports into France during November. 
Margaret Beckett [holding answer 16 November 2001]: The European Commission are looking into the agreement on supporting the beef market in France reached by the French industry to determine whether it contravenes Community rules. A number of other member states have expressed concern at the implications of the agreement for imports into France. The UK is not directly affected since France has not implemented the European
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Margaret Beckett [holding answer 16 November 2001]: We are considering representations that we have received on this subject. However, the primary legislation which provides the enabling powers for the Hedgerow Regulations does not provide powers to protect dry stone walls. The Department supports maintenance and restoration of dry stone walls through agri-environment schemes which are being significantly expanded under the England Rural Development Programme. The results of Countryside Survey 2000 suggested that net losses of walls had been halted by 1998.
Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures she is taking to support the development of biodiesel technology; and if she will make a statement. 
Margaret Beckett [holding answer 16 November 2001]: Following the Green Fuels Challenge a new duty rate for biodiesel, 20 pence per litre below the rate for Ultra Low Sulphur Diesel, is to be introduced in Budget 2002. Any additional measures to develop biodiesel must be based on sound evidence and this Department has recently commissioned a six-month study, on behalf of the Government-Industry Forum on non-food uses of crops, to evaluate the comparative energy, environmental and socio-economic costs and benefits of biodiesel production in the UK. The study will compare results with those for other relevant green fuels and relevant energy saving measures, and will inform the future development of policy.
Mr. Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of the money announced by the Government in October 2000 to promote the growth of energy crops has already been applied for; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Morley: Our Energy Crops Scheme, part of the England Rural Development Programme, makes £29 million of assistance available to farmers. Applications which have been agreed or are being assessed total about 2 per cent. of this. This includes establishment grants for short rotation coppice and miscanthus and funding to set up a producer group for SRC growers. The low level of expenditure reflects slower than expected progress with biomass-fuelled projects. The Government have now allocated over £70 million of funding for market development and we are working closely with Government Departments and other bodies to develop opportunities in power generation, combined heat and power and heat applications. We expect this to lead to a significant increase in uptake.
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Mr. Edward Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will outline the policy of the Environment Agency with regard to (a) the provision of car parking on (i) land immediately adjacent to the river Thames and (ii) its own land immediately adjacent to the river Thames and (b) the leasing of its own land immediately adjacent to the river Thames. 
Mr. Meacher: Local authorities are responsible for development control and policy related to car parking in their areas. In cases of new development, the Environment Agency, as a statutory consultee, has an opportunity to encourage best practice in environmental design. This includes proposals on land adjacent to the river Thames.
When considering a planning application, the agency would normally request a number of planning conditions, such as the retention of a buffer zone to allow access to flood defences for maintenance and inspection; the provision of public access rights to the riverside; and prevention of encroachment of the development on to the tidal foreshore.
In cases of land leased by the agency to a third party, subject to the terms of the contract, use of the site would be a matter between the third party and the local planning authority. The agency would, if a planning application were made, be a statutory consultee in the normal way.
Mr. Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) how many animals have been used in live experiments tests within the EU in the last year; and how many have been used in the United Kingdom; 
The latest year for which figures are available for the United Kingdom is 2000, when the number of animals involved in scientific procedures started in Great Britain was 2,643,000, with a further 14,100 in Northern Ireland. 83 per cent. of the animals used were rats, mice and other rodent species. Dogs, cats, horses and non-human primates, which are accorded special protection by the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, were collectively used in under one per cent. of the procedures.
Information regarding the number of animals used for toxicological purposes is provided in Table 10a of the Statistics of Scientific Procedures on Living Animals Great Britain 2000. This is broken down by species of animal, but not by type of establishment.
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Mr. Meacher: The European Commission published a White Paper on 27 February 2001 setting out the strategy for a future Community Policy for chemicals with the overall objective of ensuring a high level of protection for human health and the environment. A copy of the White Paper has been deposited in the Library of the House. Environment Ministers from all member states called on the European Commission to present, by the end of 2001, its main proposals for a simple, clear and transparent regulatory framework to implement the strategy while limiting the need for animal testing.
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