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Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what role her Department has played in discussions relating to the Pan- European Biological and Landscape Diversity Strategy; and if she will make a statement. 
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Strategy since its endorsement at the 'Environment for Europe' Ministerial Conference in 1995, and will continue to do so.
In February officials from my Department attended the 6th meeting of the Strategy Council in Budapest, and the 'Biodiversity in Europe' Intergovernmental Conference which was held under the overall umbrella of the strategy, and which focused on facilitating European regional preparations for the 6th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD/COP6), and strengthening co-operation on biodiversity in Europe.
The conference reviewed relevant on-going Pan- European processes, identified priorities and made a number of recommendations for action at the regional level. The conference discussed the main items on the CBD/COP6 agenda which were of special European concern, with a view to developing a regional input for the forthcoming negotiations at The Hague. Among the priority topics considered were:
Invasive alien species
Financial resources and mechanisms for biodiversity
Indicators, monitoring and the clearing house mechanism; and
Strategic Plan for the CBD and the implementation of the Convention.
Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on progress with regard to the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade. 
The European Commission adopted a proposal to implement the Rotterdam convention in the EU on 24 January 2002, which is now being discussed by the Environment Council Working Group and the European Parliament. European Community Regulation 2455/92 already implements (compulsorily) a voluntary scheme on trade in certain dangerous chemicals, which the European Commission's recent proposal seeks to amend to implement the convention in the EU. Germany and The Netherlands have implemented national legislation in advance of European Community action. The UK, and the rest of the Community, are also participating in a voluntary interim procedure prior to the convention coming into force.
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Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when her Department intends to publish details of new energy efficiency indicators, targets and monitoring mechanisms for each sector of the economy; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Meacher: The Government will be responding to this and other recommendations of the recent performance and innovation unit energy review in a White Paper later in the year, following public consultation. The Government recognise that energy efficiency is an important, and highly cost-effective, way of achieving our climate change goals. It has significant unrealised potential, and the Department will be considering how to enhance its future role. We will produce a domestic energy efficiency strategy, and are working to establish benchmarking, indicators and (where appropriate) targets, for those sectors of the economy which have the most significant impacts on energy efficiency. A review of local authorities' role in energy efficiency is also under way. Some sectors of course already have energy efficiency targets, for example, the Government estate, health and education sectors. The energy efficiency best practice programme (EEBPp) provides authoritative information and guidance on benchmarking and best practice for every sector.
Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps she is taking to form a negotiated agreement with the finance sector to reduce the cost of financing energy efficiency measures by funding them as part of mortgage offers; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Meacher: We will examine the performance and innovation unit's energy review recommendation in the course of preparing our domestic energy efficiency strategy, and for the introduction of the home seller's pack. The objective of this initiative is to make available to potential buyers relevant information about the property. We propose that the seller's pack should include an assessment of the property's energy efficiency performance (a SAP energy rating) and suggestions for improving that performance. It is anticipated that the information will encourage prospective home buyers to take energy efficiency into account in their buying decisions and, following purchase, to act on the suggestions and invest in energy efficiency measures. The ability to fund the measures as part of the mortgage loan would help to maximise the benefits from this initiative.
Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if her Department plans to announce an extension of the energy efficiency commitment from 2005 to 2010; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Meacher: We are considering the future of the energy efficiency commitment after 2005: we need to be sure that it remains the best way of delivering substantial savings in the domestic sector. Feedback on the early part of the programme for 2002 to 2005 will also enable us to take account of that experience in making our plans for the future.
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Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when her Department plans to undertake a review of low carbon delivery organisations; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Meacher: The performance and innovation unit (PIU) energy review highlights the number and range of organisations involved in delivering policies and programmes for lowering carbon emissions and promoting energy efficiency. The Government will certainly consider this particular PIU recommendation carefully when responding to the energy review in a White Paper later in the year, following public consultation.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the extent to which EU Directive 1999/74/EC was implemented by 1 January; and what formal action has been taken by the European Commission in respect of this matter by 1 January. 
Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on matters discussed and decisions taken at the ministerial conference on the North sea, held in Bergen, in March; and if she will place in the Library copies of all United Kingdom submissions to the conference and submissions by other Governments and accredited bodies that are relevant to the United Kingdom. 
Mr. Meacher: The fifth North Sea Conference was held in Bergen, Norway, on 20 and 21 March. I represented the UK and was supported by Allan Wilson, Deputy Minister for Environment and Rural Development at the Scottish Executive.
The Conference received a report on progress made in taking forward the commitments made at the fourth North Sea Conference held in Esbjerg, Denmark, in 1995. The outcome of the fifth North Sea Conference was a declaration for further action to protect the marine environment of the North Sea. It covered establishing an ecosystem approach, the conservation of habitats and species, fisheries, shipping, hazardous substances, eutrophication, offshore installations, radioactive substances, renewable energy, marine litter and waste management, spatial planning and future co-operation.
The Conference was very successful in producing an agreed declaration which provides a worthwhile step for the further protection of the marine environment. Key initiatives include a commitment to develop and pilot ecological quality objectives to assess progress made towards an ecosystem-based approach, a commitment to designate relevant areas of the North Sea as a network of well-managed marine protected areas by 2010 and the creation of a network of investigators and prosecutors to tackle pollution from shipping. It was also agreed that Sweden would host a Ministerial meeting on the environmental impacts of shipping and fishing by 2006.
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The declaration also contains proposals to work through the OSPAR Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North East Atlantic to develop guidance on offshore wind energy schemes and consider how best to share information on spatial planning for the North Sea. It also endorses further work through OSPAR to tackle pollution from hazardous substances, offshore installations, radioactive substances and the prevention of eutrophication.
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