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SSSIs

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what proportion of sites of special scientific interest were in (a) good, (b) fair and (c) poor condition in (i) 1996, (ii) 1997, (iii) 1998, (iv) 1999, (v) 2000 and (vi) 2001. [16537]

Mr. Meacher: Information on the condition of sites has been collected since April 1996. The features are assessed as being favourable; unfavourable but improving; unfavourable with no change; unfavourable and declining; and destroyed.

English Nature reports on SSSI condition in its annual reports, copies of which are available in the House Library. Figures from the reports are set in the table.

Percentage

YearFavourable/ improving GoodUnfavourable/ no change FairDeclining or destroyed Poor
April 1996–March 199767.222.99.9
April 1997–March 199872.015.712.3
April 1998–March 199971.816.911.3
April 1999–March 200058.829.611.6
April 2000-March 200158.027.015.0

Nature conservation is a devolved matter, and the National Assembly and Scottish Parliament hold information for Wales and Scotland respectively.

English Nature has a programme of monitoring SSSIs, which started in 1997. It will inspect each site at least once every six years. By March 2001, English Nature had inspected 66 per cent. of sites and assessed them against a common standard, giving the figure of 58 per cent. in good condition. Thus the figures for later years are more accurate than earlier estimates and do not necessarily show that actual deterioration has taken place. The programme of inspections was disrupted this year due to restrictions on access to land; however, English Nature plans to complete the cycle by the end of 2002–03 to give comprehensive data on all sites.

The Department has adopted a public service agreement target of aiming to deliver 95 per cent. of SSSIs in favourable condition by 2010. This is a challenging target. Deterioration through neglect of management was addressed in the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, and EN now has new tools available. We will also need to secure policy changes which will remove the causes of poor condition of sites, with the co-operation of other Government Departments.

Waste Management

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what impact impending EU legislation will have on the UK waste management strategy. [19053]

Mr. Meacher: There are a number of EU Directives still in the developmental stage or in the process of being transposed into UK law, including those relating to End of Life Vehicles, Batteries, and Waste Electrical

6 Dec 2001 : Column: 494W

and Electronic Equipment, which will extend producer responsibilities. These should encourage producers and distributors to internalise costs of disposal and lead to more efficient use of resources.

The EU Landfill Directive of 1999 requires us to reduce the amount of biodegradable municipal waste sent to landfill to 75 per cent. of 1995 levels by 2010, 50 per cent. by 2013 and 35 per cent. by 2020.

In order to achieve this, the national waste strategy, published in May 2000, prioritises waste minimisation, re-use and recycling. This year we have set challenging statutory recycling targets for each local authority to achieve and are supporting the delivery of these with additional funding, including a £140 million pot on which consultation is currently under way.

Livestock Industry (Wales)

Mr. Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans the Government have to support the Welsh livestock industry. [19895]

Mr. Morley: This is a matter for the Minister for Rural Affairs at the National Assembly for Wales.

Bathing Water Directive

Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the impact of the Bathing Water Directive on (a) rural beaches and (b) tourism policies. [19542]

Mr. Meacher: Water quality has been improved considerably at both resort and rural beaches to meet the requirements of the Directive. Compliance with the Directive's main mandatory standards in England was 98 per cent. this year, compared with 79 per cent. in 1990. Of the 388 bathing waters in England which passed this year, around three-quarters are rural. The enhanced reputation of our beaches will enable more to obtain Blue Flags and Seaside Awards and make our coasts and seaside resorts even more attractive to the millions who visit every year.

White Goods

Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what advice has been issued by her Department to consumers on buying fridges and freezers before the issue concerning the disposal of their ozone-damaging contents is resolved; and what action she is taking to prevent the dumping of fridges and freezers. [19553]

Mr. Meacher: My Department has issued an information note for householders regarding the safe disposal routes for fridges and freezers. This will shortly be made widely available and can already be found on my Department's website. The information note is intended to reduce the likelihood of fly-tipping. The illegal disposal of waste on a site without a waste management licence or registered exemption is a criminal offence. Local authorities and the Environment Agency have powers to remove fly-tipped waste and to recover their costs from those responsible.

6 Dec 2001 : Column: 495W

Hunting with Dogs

Mr. Michael Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the impact of the temporary cessation of hunting with dogs on the level of predation of livestock by foxes. [20656]

Alun Michael: There is no information collected centrally which could provide the basis for an answer to this question.

Portland Cement

Charlotte Atkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage the British manufacturers of Portland cement has agreed to improve their energy efficiency by 2010 under their climate change levy sector agreement. [20516]

Mr. Meacher: The four major UK-based manufacturers of Portland cement constitute the climate change agreement with the British Cement Association. The cement sector target is to achieve specific primary energy consumption of 1.25kWh/kg of cement by 2010. This represents a 25.6 per cent. reduction from the 1990 performance of 1.68kWh/kg of cement.

Charlotte Atkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which of the British producers of Portland cement have signed a climate change agreement; and what percentage of that industry sector they represent. [20606]

Mr. Meacher: The following British producers of Portland cement have entered into the climate change agreement between the Secretary of State and the British Cement Association:


These companies represent very nearly 100 per cent. of the UK Portland cement manufacturing sector.

Common Fisheries Policy

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the Government's fisheries policies, and in particular on the common fisheries policy of the EU. [20752]

Mr. Morley: Our primary objective for the Common Fisheries Policy must be for a policy which is both economically and environmentally sustainable and one which involves stakeholders more closely in management decisions affecting them. Only in that way will the CFP attract support and credibility from fishermen, ensure responsible stock management and give the promise of a viable future. I strongly agree with the Commission's conclusions in their Green Paper on the operation of the CFP that it is not meeting its objectives. It is failing to provide an adequate living for many fishermen and is failing to conserve fish stocks. The forthcoming review of the CFP will give the opportunity not only to put right what has gone wrong but also to consider how the CFP should develop over the coming years.

6 Dec 2001 : Column: 496W

Livestock Markets

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she expects that livestock markets will be reopened. [19742]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 4 December 2001]: Some livestock markets have reopened in Scotland reflecting the lower number of FMD cases there. A decision to reopen livestock markets in England and Wales will be made in the light of scientific and veterinary advice on progress with the eradication of foot and mouth disease. It is not possible to give a precise date but it is expected to be in the early part of 2002, provided there are no further outbreaks.

Flood Defence

Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many local authorities have completed their review of flood defence assets and provided that data to the Environment Agency. [21415]

Mr. Morley: I intend to publish this information once it has been validated.


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