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Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent steps have been taken by her Department to assess the risk of contamination from raw waste meat in composting; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Meacher: DEFRA has commissioned an assessment to determine the risks to public, animal and plant health from the land spreading of kitchen/catering wastes after treatment by composting or in a biogas plant and to compare these with the risks from other disposal routes. This work should be completed in May and the results will be made public thereafter. A subsequent stage of the project will assess the risks from such treatment of slaughterhouse waste and other low-risk animal by-products.
Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps she is taking to improve air quality standards; and what levels of emissions were recorded (a) in the Teesside region and (b) on average in England at the latest date for which figures are available. 
Mr. Meacher: The Government's policies on air quality standards and objectives are set out in the air quality strategy for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, published in January 2000. We consulted in September 2001 on proposals to tighten our policy objectives for three pollutants (carbon monoxide, benzene and particulate matter) and to introduce for the first time a policy objective for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
The National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory (available at www.aeat.co.uk/netcen/airqual) records UK emissions to air of all key pollutants. 1999 is the latest year for which comprehensive data for both the UK and Teesside are available. Nationally, emissions of most air pollutants fell significantly between 1990 and 1999, as table 1 shows.
30 Apr 2002 : Column 666W
|Pollutant||Emissions in 1990 (kilotonnes)||Emissions in 1999 (kilotonnes)||Percentage reduction|
|Oxides of nitrogen||2760||1605||42|
|Pollutant||Emissions in Teesside in 1999 (kilotonnes)||Percentage of national total|
|Oxides of nitrogen||39.639||2.5|
Information on air quality levels in Teesside and the rest of the country is also available at www.aeat.co.uk/ netcen/airqual. This information is updated on an hourly basis. Figures for the year 2001 show that across the country as a whole the average number of days of moderate or poor air quality recorded by individual monitoring stations in urban areas of the UK was 21 days. This total has declined steadily over the last decade as measures to deliver cleaner air have started to take effect.
There are four automatic air quality monitoring sites in Teesside affiliated to the national air quality monitoring network. These are at Billingham, Stockton-on-Tees, Redcar and Middlesbrough. The average number of days of moderate or poor air quality recorded in 2001 at each of these four sites was 16 days. This figure is lower than the national average.
Mr. Meacher: There are currently four automatic and 11 non-automatic air quality monitoring stations in the Teesside region. These are part of the UK air quality monitoring networks. In addition, a non-automatic benzene monitor has recently been installed in Middlesbrough as part of the UK non-automatic hydrocarbon monitoring network. There are currently no plans to increase the number of automatic monitoring stations in the region. I am not aware of any plans to further increase the number of non-automatic stations in the region, which are the responsibility of local authorities.
30 Apr 2002 : Column 667W
dated 18 March and 18 June concerning Mr. A. Tabbenor of Youlgrave in Derbyshire and his suckler cow premium. 
Mr. Norman: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when the boundary definition for areas of outstanding natural beauty was last reviewed; what plans she has to review the boundaries; and what plans the Government have to create further areas of outstanding natural beauty. 
Alun Michael: The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 empowers the Countryside Agency to designate an area in England as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) for the purpose of conserving and enhancing the natural beauty of the area.
Boundaries for AONBs are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. The last boundary variation was made to Dedham Vale AONB on 19 September 1991. Establishing AONBs, and varying their boundaries, is the responsibility of the Countryside Agency. They have no plans to create any new AONBs or to vary the boundaries of any of the existing ones, except in so far as a National Park in the South Downs might replace two AONBs.
Boundary reviews are very time consuming and expensive: So the Countryside Agency believes it is better to focus resources on managing existing AONBs, and maximising the opportunities offered by the new Countryside and Rights of Way Act, rather than pursuing minor variations. I support this view.
|Other meat and offal||572|
(1) Mainly corned beef
The importation of fresh meat and offal of the bovine, ovine, caprine and porcine species and other biungulates (including game) into the United Kingdom from Argentina was banned from 14 March 2001 until 1 February 2002.
30 Apr 2002 : Column 668W
her Department undertakes to control the population of wildfowl within London; and which species it monitors. 
Mr. Meacher: All wild birds are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 which implements the EC wild birds directive in Great Britain. Some species of wildfowl and waterfowl are listed under schedule 2 part I of the Act and can be killed or taken during the open season. Outside the open season birds, their eggs and nests can be controlled only under a licence issued by DEFRA where specific criteria are met.
The Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS), which is jointly funded by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the British Trust for Ornithology and the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust monitors all species of non-breeding waterbirds in the UK. Greater London has a number of sites which support non-breeding waterbirds at levels of international and/or national significance.
Mr. Meacher: Although the Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS), which is jointly funded by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the British Trust for Ornithology and the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, monitors the non-breeding population of Canada geese no attempt to calculate the numbers present at all sites in the London area has been made.
Hugh Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how negotiations are progressing over the implementation of the environmental impact assessment regulations as they affect top fruit growers. 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 26 April 2002]: DEFRA has not received any requests to enter into negotiations about the implementation of the Environmental Impact Assessment (Uncultivated Land and Semi-natural Areas) Regulations 2001 as they affect top fruit growers.
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