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England Rural Development Programme

Mr. Heath: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list those companies which have received processing and marketing grants under the England Rural Development Programme. [26416]

Alun Michael: I am writing to the hon. Member today with a list of those companies that have received processing and marketing grants under the England Rural Development Programme. I am placing a copy of that letter in the Library of the House.

EU Environment Council

Mr. Hood: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the outcome was of the Environment Council held in Brussels on 29 October; what the Government's stance was on each issue discussed, including its voting record; and if she will make a statement. [11896]

Margaret Beckett: My right hon. Friend the Minister for the Environment and I represented the UK at the Environment Council held in Luxembourg on 29 October. This was the first Environment Council of the Belgian presidency. Council reached political agreement on four common positions: the UK voted in favour of each. Four sets of Council conclusions were agreed. There were two orientation debates: one, in public, on a proposed regulation concerning traceability and labelling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and products derived from them, and a second on the Commission's review of the Pesticides Authorisation Directive (91/414/EEC).

Political agreement was reached without discussion on a recommendation concerning implementation of Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) in Europe. This aims to encourage member states to carry out a

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stocktake of institutions and laws affecting their coastal zones, and to adopt national strategies to promote integrated management.

In reaching political agreement on a proposed amendment to Directive 97/68/EC on non-road mobile machinery emissions, the UK achieved its objective of ensuring deletion of an article permitting the use of economic incentives, noting that the directive did not have an appropriate legal base for such an article. The amended directive will introduce exhaust emission standards for small, off-road petrol engines and large diesel generators, and aims to align European provisions with existing US regulations.

Political agreement was also reached on an amendment to Directive 94/25/EC laying down limit values for exhaust and noise emissions from new recreational craft placed on the Community market. The Council agreed limit values at the levels proposed by the European Commission in COM(2000) 639 dated 12 October 2000. Particularly in relation to noise emissions, agreement was reached on less costly methods of demonstrating compliance. Overall the agreement represents a reasonable balance between achieving challenging environmental objectives while minimising the cost to small and medium-sized business and individuals.

Council reached political agreement on a proposed decision continuing for the period 2002–06 an annual funding programme for environmental NGOs active at a European level. The Commission's proposed total budget of EUR 32 million was agreed. The UK's main objective of ensuring that the selection and monitoring process was transparent and fair was met in the common position text.

Ministers agreed a common approach on a proposed directive to bring Community rules into line with the second pillar of the Aarhus Convention dealing with public consultation in environmental decision-making. The UK welcomed the proposal and asked that the Commission also take steps to present another proposal seeking to apply the provisions of the Aarhus Convention to the Community institutions, in order to enable the Community to ratify the Convention.

During a public orientation debate on a proposed regulation on traceability and labelling of GMOs, Council discussed the scope of the proposed system. While welcoming the intention of the proposal to improve safety and consumer choice in GM food and crops, the UK's current judgment was that the requirement to label and trace the source of products which contain no detectable GM material would be unworkable. The UK expressed concern about whether the information given to consumers would be reliable and whether developing countries would be able to provide the information expected from importers. The UK took the view that the Commission's proposals for allowing certain imports of crops containing GMOs that are not approved in the EU were unsatisfactory as they stood and that further urgent work was needed, particularly on agreeing an international system for identifying individual GMOs. Member states were still divided on when the EU decision-making process for GM products could be restarted. While recognising the importance of the proposal to rebuilding confidence in the decision-making

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process on GMOs in the EU, the UK called for case-by-case consideration of applications and said that it was not tenable to encourage an illicit moratorium.

Council conclusions adopted in preparation for the seventh Conference of the Parties (COP7) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, taking place in Marrakesh from 29 October to 9 November, called on all parties to respect the Bonn agreement, and underlined the need for progress in the relevant international forums in tackling emissions from aviation and shipping. The conclusions stressed the resolve of the Community and its member states to ratify the Kyoto Protocol in a timely manner, with a view to its entry into force by the World Summit on Sustainable Development next September. Environment Commissioner Wallstrom also presented a proposal to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, a draft directive on a CO2 emissions trading scheme and a Communication on the European Climate Change Programme.

Council conclusions were adopted on a Clean Air for Europe (CAFE) Programme stressing the priority attached to the problems of ozone, particulates and acidification. Council also adopted conclusions on a Communication on Conservation of Natural Resources, and conclusions on the Commission's general Communication on Biodiversity, highlighting the need to implement biodiversity action plans and halt biodiversity decline across the EU.

Council held a discussion to inform the adoption of six sustainable development indicators to be used in the Commission's synthesis report for the Barcelona Spring European Council. The Commission would publish its report on indicators on 31 October. An exchange of views was also held on the Commission's review of Directive 91/414/EEC on agricultural pesticides. The UK stressed the need to speed up the pace of the review of older compounds. The debate also considered the substitution principle and restrictions on those allowed to use certain categories of pesticides.

The Belgian presidency and Commission reported on a number of proposals, including the EU Chemicals Strategy, environmental liability and a recently adopted communication on dioxins, furans and PCBs. France briefly outlined measures taken by the French Government since a major explosion at an ammonium nitrate manufacturing plant in Toulouse in September. The inquiry into this accident will inform the planned revision of the Seveso II Directive, but the Commission will not delay adoption of its proposal.

Over lunch Ministers discussed preparations for the WTO Ministerial in Doha on 9–13 November and preparations for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Rio+10) to be held in Johannesburg in September 2002.

Litter Fines

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what changes she plans to make to allow local authorities more easily to issue on-the-spot fines for litter. [30616]

Mr. Meacher: As part of the local public service agreements currently being agreed, certain local authorities are being allowed to retain the moneys received from the fixed penalty notices for litter and dog fouling offences. On return, the moneys must be reinvested back into the

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community on local environmental quality improvements. Should this be a success the Government plan to extend this scheme to all local authorities.

Also, from 1 April 2002 the fixed penalty notices for litter and dog fouling offences will be doubled from £25 to £50.

Waste Management

Mr. Letwin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what rules govern whether waste may be (a) composted and (b) directly applied on farms without (i) planning permission and (ii) Environment Agency approval. [30728]

Mr. Meacher: PPG 10 "Planning and Waste Management" advises that the large-scale commercial composting of green waste will generally require planning permission. The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 requires a planning application to be submitted for the importation of waste onto farms unless it is for use in certain specified engineering or building works. It is for local authorities to determine in the first instance whether planning permission is required in each case.

Both composting and landspreading of waste for agricultural benefit are classified as waste recovery operations under the waste framework directive. This means that anyone carrying out these operations must do so under the terms of either a waste management licence issued by the Environment Agency under Part II of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 or a licensing exemption registered with the agency. Licensing exemptions for composting and landspreading of waste are provided in the Waste Management Regulations 1994 regulation 17 and schedule 3 paragraphs 7 and 12.

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