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Hedgerow Protection

Andrew Bennett: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to revise the legislation on protection of hedgerows. [33652]

Mr. Meacher: A consultation document that includes proposals for changes to the Hedgerows Regulations 1997 is in preparation. We hope to issue it shortly.

Waste Disposal

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list for Buckinghamshire by (a) tonnage and (b) percentage, the amount of waste disposal by (i) landfill, (ii) recycling and (iii) incineration in each of the last five years. [30061]

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Mr. Meacher: Based on estimates from the Department's Waste Management Survey, the amounts of municipal waste for Buckinghamshire are listed as follows:

Thousand tonnes


Thousand tonnes

1998–990.3less than 0.5213.3
1999–20000.2less than 0.5227.1


1. 2000–01 data are currently being collected from local authorities.

2. Totals and percentages may not add, due to rounding.

Information, including the amounts of industrial and commercial waste, for Buckinghamshire are published in Strategic Waste Management Assessment 2000: South East, Environment Agency. Data are available for one year only and based on estimates from the Environment Agency's National Waste Production Survey.

Industrial and commercial waste 1998

Thousand tonnesPercentage
Land disposal41651
Land recovery1less than 0.5
Thermal6less than 0.5


Totals and percentages may not add, due to rounding.

Rural White Paper

Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to her answer to the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Drew) of 27 November 2001, Official Report, column 859W, on the Rural White Paper, what proportion of the announced funds and schemes, broken down by category, has been spent to date during 2001–02. [33778]

Alun Michael: For 2000–01, £80 million has been allocated to local education authorities through the small schools fund, including those covering predominantly rural areas. Information on actual expenditure of the small schools fund for 2001–02 is not available. Local education authorities will return monitoring forms in May, which will give a broad indication for the 2001–02 financial year.

In 2001–02, £30 million has been allocated (by means of a formula) under the rural policing fund to the 31 rural police authorities. Forces are expected to include in their best value annual policing plan information on how they expect to spend or have spent the additional funds. The

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Home Office do not routinely keep information on how much has been spent in any financial year—it is a matter for each individual police authority.

The £2 million Government fund to support volunteer and community initiatives to maintain or reopen post office facilities in rural areas came into operation in September 2001. Since then just over £29,000 has been spent on five initiatives.

The child care figure of 8,728 new places refers to the financial year between April 2000 and March 2001. From April 2001 to September 2001 Cornwall, Devon, Durham and Lincolnshire partnerships have reported the creation of 4,804 child care places. Figures for October to December are not yet available.

For 2001–02 £62 million has been allocated to improve rural bus services. Up until the end of January £28.8 million had been spent on Rural Bus Subsidy Grant and £8.8 million on Rural Bus Challenge. I understand that the DTLR expect to spend a total of £60 million by the end of the financial year.

The new Countryside Agency Grant schemes have spent the following up until 31 December 2001: Community Services Grant £597,000; Parish Plans Fund £143,000; and Parish Transport Fund £80,000.

Information on expenditure and assistance to date on market towns is not currently available.

Abandoned Cars

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what action she (a) has taken and (b) plans to take to reduce the number of abandoned cars; and if she will make a statement. [31587]

Mr. Meacher: The Government recently consulted on a package of measures to help deal with the abandoned vehicles problems. The main proposals were: reducing the notice periods used by local authorities so that abandoned vehicles could be removed more quickly; enabling local authorities to use DVLA's powers to remove unlicensed vehicles and to provide better access for them to DVLA's records; and promoting exchanges of best practice between local authorities with a view to deterring vehicles from being abandoned, bringing forward changes to vehicle registration and licensing procedures to ensure greater accuracy of DVLA's vehicle record.

The consultation period closed on 31 January and the Government are now considering the responses.

Landfill Sites

Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) if she will list, by constituency, the number of landfill sites accepting (a) domestic and (b) toxic waste, within a two mile radius of residential property; [32225]

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Mr. Meacher: The Department does not hold this information and to collate it would be disproportionately costly.

The Small Area Health Statistic Unit study on "Health Outcomes in Populations Living Around Landfill Sites" published last year found that about 80 per cent. of the population of Great Britain lived within 2 km of a landfill site. However, the majority of these sites are closed and therefore are no longer accepting any waste for disposal. This figure includes sites that accept both special (hazardous) waste and non-special waste or have taken such wastes in the past.

Carbon Trust

Mr. Gareth R. Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the work programme is of the Carbon Trust; and if she will make a statement. [33352]

Mr. Meacher: The Carbon Trust is setting up a range of initiatives to accelerate the take up of cost effective, low-carbon technologies and measures in the non- domestic sector. The strategy is published on the Carbon Trust's website

The Carbon Trust is currently preparing a business plan outlining programme work for the next financial year.

Common Agricultural Policy

Mrs. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what proposals she has for the provision of free farm business and environmental assessment advice by her Department on Common Agricultural Policy support for individual farms; what plans she has to increase environmental and rural development scheme funding via the redirection of CAP subsidy payments; and if she will make a statement. [33382]

Alun Michael: The report of the Policy Commission on the Future of Farming and Food has made recommendations both on the provision of free farm business and environmental assessment advice and increasing funding for agri-environment schemes by increasing the rate of modulation of CAP subsidy payments. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said when the report was launched on Tuesday 29 January, the Government will publish their strategy for sustainable farming, in response to the report, in the summer.

UK Nuclear Plants

Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the levels of radioactive contamination are around UK nuclear plants; and what the best safety distance is. [25249]

Mr. Meacher: There is no simple, direct relationship between the dose arising from any radioactive discharges from UK nuclear plants and proximity to them. All radioactive discharges from UK nuclear plants are well within the national and international limit of 1 millisievert a year. In setting discharge limits, the Environment Agency has to be sure that no one would be exposed to a dose from man-made sources of ionising radiation greater than this. (There are separate dose limits for a single site and for a single new source of ionising radiation of

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0.5 and 0.3 millisieverts respectively). There are no cases in the UK where any of these limits are breached. In all cases the most exposed members of the public receive a dose which is considerably below the appropriate limit.

The Environment Agency has recently published its report "Radioactivity in the Environment Report for 2000". This is the latest in a series of such reports and contains a summary and radiological assessment of the agency's monitoring programmes.

The principal conclusions were that discharges of radioactivity into the environment reported by the operators of the major sites during 2000 were well below the authorised discharge levels; concentrations of radionuclides in water, sediment, soil and grass were broadly similar to those in previous years; activity concentrations in air, rain, and sources of drinking water remained low during 2000; and all the estimated doses from radionuclides in sediment, soil and water were below the public dose limit and in many cases the estimated doses were much less than 1 per cent. of the dose limit.

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