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Jim Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when auction markets for cattle will be restored in (a) Dorset and (b) areas that have been spared infection by foot and mouth disease. 
Mr. Morley: A decision to reopen auction markets in Dorset or elsewhere in England and Wales will be made in the light of scientific and veterinary advice on progress with the eradication of FMD. It is not possible to state a precise time but it is expected to be in the early part of 2002, provided there are no further outbreaks.
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each of the last 10 financial years the Government's annual expenditure on flood prevention and flood defences. 
Mr. Morley: Flood defence is provided by the Environment Agency, local authorities and internal drainage boards. The great majority of their expenditure is provided by Government in the form of DEFRA grant (which is used by local authorities to fund levies to the Environment Agency, special levies to internal drainage boards and to finance their own spend on flood and coastal defence). The following table sets out total Government funding of flood and coastal defence for the last 10 years:
(7) Information updated since response to the answer given to the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Sayeed) on 9 November 2001, Official Report, column 451W.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she expects to announce the results of her review into the financial and institutional arrangements governing flood defence matters; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Morley: The conclusions of the review of flood and coastal defence funding arrangements will be published soon and will coincide with the initiation of a public consultation on recommendations in the report.
Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to her answer of 22 November 2001, Official Report, column 425W, on countryside visits, how many people visited the countryside in (a) 1996 and (b) 1998. 
Alun Michael: The United Kingdom leisure day visits survey shows that in 1996 there were 1,302 million day visits and in 1998 there were 1,253 million day visits to the countryside. Figures are not available for the number of different people who visited the countryside.
Mr. Burnett: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what microbiological studies have been carried out in relation to Ash Moor Petrockstowe; and if she will place the studies in the Library. 
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Mr. Burnett: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the grid references are of the site on which a geological survey was carried out in relation to Ash Moor Petrockstowe and if she will place the survey in the Library. 
Mr. Morley: The draft environmental impact assessment on the Ash Moor mass burial site includes the appropriate information on the hydrology, geology and hydrogeology of the site. The information will be included in the final published text.
Mr. Burnett: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the environmental impact assessment in relation to Ash Moor Petrockstowe; and if she will revoke the decision to allow the site to be brought into use for the disposal of animal carcases. 
Mr. Morley: The draft environmental impact assessment on the Ash Moor mass burial site is currently the subject of consultation with interested bodies. The final text will be published in the usual way. There are no current plans to use the Ash Moor site for the disposal of animal carcases.
Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list (a) the level of funds available for the regeneration programme for the next three years, (b) the number of market towns that have received support in 200102 and (c) the number of market towns, as defined by the Government. 
Alun Michael: From next April regional development agencies will make their forward spending plans within single budgets covering all their activities, rather than in several separate programme budgets. Rural regeneration budgets will no longer be separately identified within regional development agency total budgets. However regional development agencies must identify key planned rural outputs, and will in due course be able to report in arrears on actual expenditure in rural areas.
Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to introduce legislative proposals to extend the mandatory rate relief scheme for village shops to (a) small food shops, (b) pubs and (c) petrol filling stations. 
Alun Michael: The village shop rate relief scheme was extended to include pubs and petrol stations in April 2001. Under the scheme, the sole village pub or petrol station with a rateable value of £9,000 or less in a qualifying settlement, is eligible to receive 50 per cent. rate relief from central Government. Local authorities have the power to top the relief up to 100 per cent.
In August, a rate relief scheme for farm diversification and village food shops was introduced. Under the scheme, mandatory 50 per cent. rate relief will be provided to all food shops with a rateable value below £6,000 in designated villages of less than 3,000 population.
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Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which town and parish councils have received financial assistance for (a) training and (b) preparation of local plans in 200102, stating in each case the level of funding made available. 
Alun Michael: (a) The Countryside Agency, in consultation with the National Association of Local Councils, is still in the process of working up a national training strategy for town and parish councils. No parish or town council has therefore received funding for training from the Countryside Agency.
The maximum level of grant available is £5,000 to cover 75 per cent. of the costs of producing the plan. To date, 243 parish and town councils have registered an interest to produce a plan and 72 have been made a formal offer of grant. Grant is paid out against actual expenditure but applicants can claim an "up front payment" of 25 per cent. of their grant application to help them get started.
Margaret Beckett: The independent Policy Commission was tasked in the summer with reporting to the Government by the end of this year. The commission is making good progress and will complete the bulk of its work in that timetable, but it will now deliver its final report by the end of January 2002.
Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will publish the reports of audits she has commissioned into the sheep brain pool experiment at the Institute for Animal Health. 
Margaret Beckett: I have now received the reports of the two independent auditors, the UK Accreditation Service (UKAS) and Risk Solutions. I intend to publish them, along with a response from the Institute for Animal Health to the issues raised in the audits, at 9.30 am tomorrow (30 November) and will make the documents available to hon. Members through the Vote Office and Libraries.
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