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Annual Environmental Reports

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many of the top 350 companies have responded to the Prime Minister's challenge in October 2000 to publish an annual environmental report by the end of 2001. [35663]

Mr. Meacher: Not all companies have yet published their reports for 2001, but we currently estimate 71 of the top 350 companies have produced a stand alone environmental report, including quantified environmental performance data, or otherwise published this information.

A further 84 have also taken at least one step towards meeting the Prime Minister's challenge such as publishing an environmental policy or environmental performance targets. We will be writing to all companies shortly to check our estimates and will make the final tally public as soon as possible.

European Commissioners Communications

(EU 2037/2000)

Mr. Jack: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will place in the Library copies of European Commissioners Communications received by her Department from June 2001 about matters that were covered under EU 2037/2000. [34841]

Mr. Meacher [holding answer 11 February 2002]: In June 2001, the European Commission sent the Department minutes of the meeting of the Management Committee on EC Regulation 2037/2000 of 11–12 June 2001. Since the minutes were produced by the Commission, we understand that we are not in a position to make them available to the Library of the House. We have received no other Communications from the Commission regarding matters covered under 2037/2000 since June 2001.

Parishes

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions she has had with the relevant district and borough councils regarding sleeping and barely active parishes under their jurisdiction. [35817]

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Alun Michael: We have had a great deal of discussion with both the Local Government Association and the Natural Association of Local Councils about how best to promote the level of activity and effectiveness of parish and town councils. We have not had direct discussions with district or borough councils, but our initiatives have received a warm welcome from many local authorities. Our strategy to help parish and town councils develop a new role and give communities the opportunity to shape their future is set out in the Rural White Paper, published in November 2000. We have made considerable progress in putting in place measures to help local councils develop their potential to lead and invigorate their communities. Over the three years this includes: £15 million for Community Service Grants to help projects to maintain or introduce services which are local priorities; £15 million for Parish Transport Grants scheme for small scale projects to meet local needs; a further £5 million to help up to 1,000 parishes draw up their own town or village plans to set out local needs and aspirations. The Countryside Agency and the National Association of Local Councils have published a national training and support strategy for parish and town councils, towards which we have allocated £2 million. In November we published a consultation paper on putting the Quality Parish and Town Council concept into practice. This sets out our detailed proposals for enhancing the role of local councils, giving their communities a better deal on local services and a stronger voice in the decisions that affect peoples lives.

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what action she recommends that those parishes deemed (a) sleeping and (b) barely active should take. [35816]

Alun Michael: This Government are giving unprecedented encouragement to all parish councils to aspire to the standard of the best, that is why we have put in place a range of measures to encourage all rural communities, parish and town councils to take action to shape their own future. I refer the hon. Member to my answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Stroud (Mr. Drew) of 31 January 2002, Official Report, column 471W, for further information.

Radioactive Waste

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to the answer of 21 January 2002, Official Report, column 566W, what records the Department has of (a) the total number of containers, (b) the weight of waste contained within the containers and (c) the proportion of (i) high level, (ii) intermediate level and (iii) low level radioactive waste in each of the 10 North Atlantic disposal sites used by the UK between 1949 and 1982. [35266]

Mr. Meacher [holding answer 11 February 2002]: The Inventory of Radioactive Waste Disposals at Sea published in 1999 by the International Atomic Energy Authority includes details, provided by the UK, of the weight and activity of the radioactive material disposed of by the UK in each of the sites in the North Atlantic. The total weight and amount of activity dumped at each disposal site are set out in the table. It should be noted that the great majority of this weight (usually around 90 per cent.) was accounted for by packaging.

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Disposal site centred on co-ordinates Total weightTotal activity
LatitudeLongitude(tonnes)(GBq)
48 30'N13 00'W937.0
55 20'N11 20'W33222.0
55 08'N12 10'W57148.0
32 37'N14 05'W1,4531,665.0
32 42'N19 30'W7,098131,191.0
32 38'N20 05'W4,36081,141.0
46 27'N6 10'W2536,660.0
45 27'N6 16'W5,809275,243.0
45 27'N6 36'W4,392574,758.0
48 20'N13 16'W7,6414,170,381.0
42 50'N14 30'W72265,601.0
49 05'N17 05'W1,878665,260.0
46 15'N17 25'W9,6478,855,475.0
46 00'N16 45'W14,14120,191,963.0

Around 150,000 packages of radioactive waste were disposed of by the UK in the North East Atlantic between 1949 and 1982. A breakdown of the number of containers dumped at each disposal site is not readily available and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. I am not aware that any high level radioactive waste was disposed of by the UK in the North Atlantic. The inventory includes details of the actual amount of activity disposed of at each site (as set out in the table), rather than the proportion of the waste which was categorised as low level or intermediate level. This information is not readily available and an estimate could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to the answer of 21 January 2002, Official Report, column 566W, which of the 10 radioactive waste disposal sites in the North Atlantic contains high level radioactive waste by (a) number of containers and (b) weight. [35267]

Mr. Meacher [holding answer 11 February 2002]: I am not aware that any high level radioactive waste was disposed of by the UK in the North Atlantic. The "Report of the Independent Review of Disposal of Radioactive Waste in the Northeast Atlantic" (HMSO 1984) includes details of the activity of the waste disposed of by the UK, and explains that the disposals carried out between 1949 and 1982 involved low and intermediate level waste. Copies of the report are available in the Library of the House.

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to the answer of 4 February 2002, Official Report, column 748W, what efforts (a) have been, (b) are being and (c) will be made to monitor the state and safety of the 10 radioactive waste disposal sites in the North Atlantic used by the UK (i) through the UK's own efforts, (ii) through the OECD, (iii) through OSPAR and (iv) by other authority or means. [35265]

Mr. Meacher [holding answer 11 February 2002]: The radiological impact of the North Atlantic disposal sites was assessed under the OECD's Co-ordinated Research and Environmental Surveillance Programme (CRESP). The UK played an active part in this programme which ran from 1980 to 1995 and included

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direct monitoring of the main North Atlantic disposal site, which was used up until 1982. The UK has not been involved in any direct monitoring of the Atlantic disposal sites since that time and we have no plans to do so. With regard to the results obtained under CRESP and the coastal monitoring carried out by the UK, I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 6 February 2002, Official Report, columns 974W. No direct monitoring of the disposal sites has been carried out through OSPAR.

It should be noted that the drums used in the North Atlantic disposal operations were designed to reach the floor of the deep ocean intact but in the knowledge that the radioactivity would leak out over a period of years and be dispersed into the sea, by which time the radioactivity would have been somewhat reduced by natural decay. Assessments of the radiological impact of the disposals undertaken by CRESP and others have taken full account of this.


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