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Livestock Scheme (Welsh Language Forms)

29. Hywel Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for what reason her Department does not provide Welsh medium forms in Wales to be used in connection with the autumn movement of livestock scheme. [20585]

Mr. Morley: Application forms for movement licences are available in Welsh from every local authority in Wales. Movement licences in Welsh are available from some local authorities. The Department will make these forms fully available as soon as possible.

Sugar Beet Industry

30. Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to promote the viability of the British sugar beet industry. [20586]

Mr. Morley: Support for the sugar beet industry is regulated under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). A revised sugar regime under the CAP was agreed at the May 2001 Agriculture Council and runs for five years until 1 July 2006, with a review in the early part of 2003. We continue to believe that further substantive reform is needed to take account of trade liberalisation resulting from the "Everything But Arms" agreement and to put the industry on a more sustainable basis for the future.

Aggregates Tax

31. Mr. Barnes: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what impact the aggregates tax will have on the work of her Department. [20587]

Mr. Meacher: The main impact of the tax on DEFRA's work is in creating an aggregates levy sustainability fund. We have recently consulted on how the scheme might work and we are now considering responses to the consultation. We expect the fund to:

The range of activities the Fund proposes to support is broad. It includes promoting conservation and increased biodiversity, restoring natural landscapes and local community projects.

Environmentally Friendly Lorries

32. Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the Government's plans for encouraging the environmentally friendly use of lorries. [20588]

Mr. Meacher: The Government's overarching plans for encouraging the environmentally friendly use of lorries were set out in the Sustainable Distribution Strategy, published in March 1999. The Strategy includes

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a package of measures to promote best environmental practice in the distribution industry. This includes encouraging more efficient freight logistics with the aim of minimising environmental impacts, and improving business efficiency. The Strategy is being supported through various initiatives including the DTLR-sponsored PowerShift and CleanUp programmes which provide grants towards the cost of purchasing vehicles—including lorries—running on cleaner fuels such as gas and fitting them with emission reduction technologies such as particulate traps.

Livestock Markets

33. Charlotte Atkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the future of livestock markets. [20589]

Mr. Morley: Livestock markets have an important role to play in the marketing of farm animals between the various stages of production and some are developing a broadened range of services to farmers. I look forward to the recommendations from the Policy Commission on future developments in livestock marketing.

Over-30-months Scheme

35. Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the losses incurred by farmers through the OTMS due to being unable to move cattle; and if she will make a statement. [20591]

Mr. Morley: The Over-30-months Scheme (OTMS) delivers some £240 million per annum in payments to beef and dairy farmers. As a result of foot and mouth disease movement restrictions and suspension of the OTMS farmers will have incurred losses arising from additional costs of keeping cattle, delays in sales receipts and any differences between prices actually received and those which would otherwise have been obtained. It is not possible to quantify these losses.

Noise Pollution

37. Mr. Salter: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has for tackling noise pollution in the United Kingdom. [20593]

Mr. Meacher: Much has been done to address noise from transport and industry including: reducing the level of noise generated by individual vehicles and aircraft; traffic management schemes; and addressing noise at the planning stage of new noise generation or noise sensitive developments. Such action has considerably reduced the output of noise from individual sources but has often failed to reduce the overall ambient noise because of other factors, such as the growth in the number of vehicles on our roads. A consultation seeking views on the first steps towards an Ambient Noise strategy will be launched later this month. A significant part of this strategic approach will be an exercise to build on the noise mapping already carried out of the major transport and industrial noise sources across England. The first stage of this exercise, for which £13 million has been set aside, will start in the new year.

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Hunting with Dogs

Gillian Merron: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what permit conditions will apply when hunting with dogs resumes in foot and mouth disease-free counties. [23532]

Alun Michael: On 15 November I announced the Government's intention of relaxing the ban on hunting with dogs imposed in February 2001 to control foot and mouth disease, to allow hunting in FMD free counties from 17 December under a temporary system of disease control permits. Interested parties were invited to comment on the proposed permit conditions by 7 December.

As a result, a small number of changes and clarifications have been made to the permit conditions published on 15 November. I have placed copies of the final version of the permit conditions in the Library of the House. This material has also been published on the DEFRA FMD website. Permits will be available from DEFRA Animal Health Divisional Offices from 17 December onwards to applicants who can demonstrate compliance with the disease control conditions required.

Farming and Rural Conservation Agency

Mr. Edwards: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she will publish the 2000–01 annual report for the Farming and Rural Conservation Agency. [23346]

Margaret Beckett: The 2000–01 annual report and accounts for the Farming and Rural Conservation Agency were laid before Parliament today. Copies are available in the Library of the House.

Chemical Weapons Dumps

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures are in place to manage deteriorating chemical weapon and munition dumps in coastal waters of the United Kingdom. [21854]

Dr. Moonie: I have been asked to reply.

There are no specific measures in place to manage chemical weapons and munition dumps on the seabed in the coastal waters of the United Kingdom, as the consensus of international scientific opinion is that munitions on the seabed present no significant risk to safety, human health or the marine environment, provided they remain undisturbed.

I am aware, however, that there are two range danger areas, D306 (formerly RAF Cowden) D307 (RAF Donna Nook), which are near my hon. Friend's constituency. D306 was closed as a range a few years ago, but D307 continues to be used by the RAF for practice bombing runs. Coastal erosion of the range danger area D306 has caused much of the explosive ordnance previously used for practice bombing to re-emerge. A quantity of unexploded iron bombs are lodged in the cliffs at this range, and, periodically, these fall on to the beach area as a result of the three metres of erosion which occurs each year. To ensure that any danger to the public is kept to a minimum, Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) personnel from the Ministry of Defence are carrying out clearance and disposal of this ordnance. It is expected that this will take up to 15 years to complete.

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On the D307 range, explosive ordnance from World War Two was buried offshore under the sand, which is covered daily by the tides. An EOD team from RAF Coningsby carry out an inspection, either daily or weekly depending on tides and the programme of activities at the range, to determine if any ordnance has emerged through the sand. If any munitions or other hazardous items are discovered during the regular inspections, action is taken to remove or destroy the offending article. This is an important activity, which is intended to minimise any risks to the public from exposed ordnance on the range. A risk assessment was conducted three years ago, which endorsed the acceptability of the procedure for handling exposed munitions.

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