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Waste Disposal

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the UK strategy is with respect to the EU Landfill Directive, for the disposal of liquid waste; and what the locations are of sites capable of treating liquid waste. [38276]

Mr. Meacher: The forthcoming Landfill (England and Wales) Regulations which will implement the regulatory and technical requirements of the Landfill Directive will ban the landfilling of hazardous liquid wastes from July 2002 as required by the Directive. The Directive also requires that non-hazardous liquids are banned from landfill 'as soon as possible' and no later than July 2009. The Government are working with the Environment Agency and the waste industry to set a date within these parameters for the ban on non-hazardous liquids to come into effect.

The Department does not hold details of the locations of individual treatment facilities for liquid waste and to collate it would be disproportionately costly.

Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans the Government have to extend the principle of producer responsibility to other groups who benefit from the sale, purchase and use of cars and other consumer goods. [38125]

Mr. Wilson: I have been asked to reply.

The End of Life Vehicles Directive (2000/53/EC) defines "producers" and sets down the responsibilities they have for vehicle design and composition, and at end-of-life; the Directive also defines "economic operators", and sets down ELV recovery and recycling targets which must be achieved by 2006 and 2015. The Government are currently considering how they wish these producer responsibilities to be discharged, and how

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the targets should be met. The current draft of the proposed EU Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive contains similar provisions. The Department has undertaken also to publish shortly a discussion paper on a possible producer responsibility model for tyres. Consideration is also being given within Government to producer responsibility initiatives for direct mail and non-packaging farm plastics.

Empty Properties

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to her answer of 29 January 2002, Official Report, column 240W, what the total area in square feet of all empty properties owned by (a) her Department, (b) her agencies and (c) other public bodies for which she has had responsibility was in each year since May 1997. [37913]

Mr. Morley: The information requested is set out in the tables. As the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs was created on 8 June 2001, this relates to the former Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. The Department does not hold centrally information about properties occupied by non-departmental public bodies.

Under Treasury guidelines, Departments have up to three years or more to dispose of surplus properties to ensure that the best possible price is obtained. The areas of some empty properties will, therefore, be included in more than one of the total annual area figures shown in the tables.

Redundant buffer depots (food stores) formerly used to accommodate the strategic food stockpile account for a large proportion of the empty core DEFRA space (figures shown in italics). However, the programme of disposals of buffer depots is now nearing completion.

Total area of empty core DEFRA properties in square metres and (square feet) including former buffer depots(9)

Square metresSquare metresSquare feetSquare feet

(9) Also shown separately in italics

Total area of empty DEFRA agency properties

Square metresSquare feet

Weeds Act 1959

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what resources her Department is devoting to enforcement of the Weeds Act 1959 in the current financial year. [38497]

Mr. Morley: This Department will investigate complaints about the spread of injurious weeds covered by the Weeds Act 1959 to farmed land or land used for the keeping of horses as part of a diversified farm

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business. Where the complaint is valid the occupier of the land will be asked to take action to remove the weeds. In most cases the occupier will co-operate and act promptly to remove the weed. However in a small number of cases, following discussion with the parties involved, the occupier will persistently refuse to take action. If this is the case we will arrange for the weeds to be cleared and will recover the cost from the occupier of the land.

When following up a complaint we may arrange for an inspector from the Rural Payments Agency to visit the holding to identify the weed concerned and the level of infestation. If necessary a follow-up visit may also be carried out to ensure the weeds have been removed. Technical staff from the Department's Rural Development Service will oversee clearance work arranged by DEFRA.

In the current financial year all work involving farm visits has been severely constrained by the foot and mouth outbreak. As a result only some one and a half staff years were devoted to this work over the period from April to December 2001.


Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many vets are employed in Somerset; and how many were involved in the foot and mouth epidemic in the South West. [38481]

Mr. Morley: The number of vets employed in Somerset as at 28 February 2002 is 22.

The number of vets involved in the foot and mouth epidemic in the South West was 810.


Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent steps her Department has taken to assist local authorities with inspection of polluting processes. [38642]

Mr. Meacher: Local authorities receive income from fees and charges required to be paid by relevant polluting processes to cover the costs of undertaking their Local Air Pollution Control functions. The new risk-based regulation methodology being developed should provide local authorities with a framework for planning their inspection programmes.

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps her Department (a) has taken and (b) plans to take to ensure that local authorities conduct the inspection of polluting processes required by (i) her Department and (ii) statute. [38406]

Mr. Meacher: Local authorities have been given the Local Air Pollution Control regulatory function and it is for them to ensure that it is carried out adequately. They are letting down those they represent if they do not do so.

Local authorities have powers of entry under section 108 of the Environment Act 1995 to carry out inspections. Although the statute does not prescribe any specific level or frequency of inspections, like any statutory power this power must be exercised reasonably, to pursue the purpose of the statute.

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The Department works closely with the Local Government Association and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health over the implementation of LAPC. Specifically, in the last two years it has publicly listed all local authorities with a low inspection record, and has this year written to all these local authorities asking to be told what action will be taken to rectify the situation. We will shortly be writing to chief executives of all local authorities to remind them of the importance of undertaking adequate inspection.

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment her Department has made of the results of the local authority pollution control statistical survey since 1997; and what steps have been taken by her Department in consequence. [38643]

Mr. Meacher: The statistical survey covers a wide spectrum of issues concerning the local air pollution control system; the 2000–01 report is over 200 pages long. It ranges from simple numbers of applications and authorised processes in each of the 24 process categories, to data on speed of local authority decision, numbers and types of prosecutions, whether cost accounting is undertaken, and whether authorities have enforcement policies. Each statistical report is circulated to key stakeholders for their comment and the reports are now published. The reports are very carefully considered by the Department and decisions made on what steps should be taken. For example, in the light of figures on local authority take-up of cost accounting, steps were taken to reinforce to local authorities the importance of adopting such practice, and practical guidance was issued to all local authorities on cost accounting methods.

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