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Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many cases have been brought against her Department under the Human Rights Act 1998; and what has been the cost in (a) legal fees to defend cases and (b) compensation payments. 
Mr. Morley: We do not collect records of all cases in which the Human Rights Act 1998 is relied on. Human rights are now integrated in the general law and are rarely the sole basis for a challenge. We do monitor centrally those cases which we consider may be of particular significance to this department. We have recorded 5 cases to date.
We do not collect separate information centrally about the costs to public funds, legal fees or compensation payments in cases which include a human rights issue. In most cases it will be difficult to single out associated costs relating to human rights elements.
Mrs. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the recently diagnosed cases of bovine TB in herds in Denbighshire, Powys and Monmouthshire; and what steps her Department is taking to control further spread of mycobacterium bovis infection. 
Mr. Morley: Powys and Monmouthshire have suffered a number of TB incidents in recent years. In the first three months of this year raw data show there were 37 new incidents in Powys, 20 of which are provisionally confirmed as due to bovine TB.
The State Veterinary Service in Wales, in close consultation with the Welsh Assembly Government, is working to clear the TB test backlog, to restrict the movement of cattle off herds with suspected TB and to target resources effectively.
The causes of bovine TB are complex and the Government is seeking to proceed on the basis of sound science drawn from independent scientific and veterinary experts. A wide-ranging research programme has been put in place on advice from the Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB (ISG). The programme extends to the
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pathogenesis of TB in cattle, improved diagnostic techniques, vaccine development, the badger field trial, risks to cattle from wildlife other than badgers and a study looking at TB in newly formed herds following restocking after foot and mouth disease.
Mrs. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what (a) formal and (b) informal meetings her Department has undertaken with the European Commission since 1 January; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Morley: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and her Ministerial colleagues meet the relevant Commissioners at meetings of the Agriculture, Fisheries and Environment Councils. In addition, the Secretary of State has met bilaterally with Commissioners Fischler (twice), Byrne, Wallstrom, Kinnock and Patten. I have met Fischler once during the period mentioned. The number of contacts between officials of the Department and representatives of the Commission, in the wide range of fora where they meet, could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs by what criteria flood defences are graded in terms of being (a) maintained at their current level or (b) in need of enhancement. 
Mr. Morley: Operational responsibility for planning, design, construction, maintenance, inspection and operation of flood defence measures rests with local operating authorities (the Environment Agency, Local Authorities and Internal Drainage Boards). The operating authorities determine which flood defences should be maintained at their current level and which are in need of enhancement. Efforts are being made to collate such information on a National Flood and Coastal Defence Database.
Mr. Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps are being taken to ensure (a) detailed mapping of areas at risk from flooding, (b) that insurance companies recognise the difference in flood risk within post-code areas and (c) that households are graded in accordance to direct risk. 
Mr. Morley: The Environment Agency has published indicative flood maps and has made these available to local authorities. Copies have recently been made available to Members of Parliament in England and Wales showing the indicative flood risk areas in their constituency. Smaller scale versions are also available to the public via the Internet. The Department is in discussion with the Agency to further develop this mapping and is currently funding work that will improve the information available. Discussions continue with both the Agency and ABI to improve the information available for assessing insurance risk.
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coastal or inland flooding in (i) England, (ii) the South East and (iii) East Sussex; and what the total value of assets are. 
Mr. Morley: The 2001 National Assessment of Assets at Risk from Flooding and Coastal Erosion, commissioned by DEFRA, estimated figures for areas at risk of flooding by regions of the Environment Agency; the Agency have provided a further breakdown for East Sussex.
|England||Southern Region||East Sussex|
|Homes at risk of flooding||1,670,000||152,000||23,500|
|Commercial properties at risk||128,000||14,000||2,100|
|Estimated total value of assets at risk||£200,000 m||£18,400 m||£2,850 m|
Alan Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to fund the repairs to flood defence systems identified as Government targets following the Bye report into the 1998 floods. 
Mr. Morley: The Government drew up High Level Targets for Flood and Coastal Defence in 1999 in liaison with local operating authorities (the Environment Agency, Local Authorities and Internal Drainage Boards). The targets are intended to facilitate a more certain delivery of national policies and objectives for flood and coastal defence. However operational responsibility for planning, design, construction, maintenance, inspection and operation of flood defence measures rests with the local operating authorities.
I understand that the Environment Agency has repaired flood defences damaged in the 1998 floods, has carried out some improvements and is considering other improvements where they meet the normal economic, technical and environmental criteria.
Alan Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if resources will be made available to improve the accuracy of the Environment Agency's maps and website relating to flood risk assessments. 
Mr. Morley: The Department is in discussion with the Environment Agency to further develop the indicative flood plain maps, copies of which have recently been made available to Members of Parliament in England and Wales, local authorities and, the general public (via the internet). DEFRA is currently funding work that will improve the data available. More detailed information will be available (as hardcopy and via the internet) in the Autumn.
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to ensure that the National Environment Research Council fund research into deep seabed impacts by trawling. 
Mr. Morley: The Office of Science and Technology within the Department of Trade and Industry is the responsible body within Government for the allocation of funds to the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) for scientific research, not DEFRA. Within the budget provision from OST NERC is funding a programme of research into the ecology of deep sea fish and the impact of deep-water fisheries on both commercial and non-target species. DEFRA has in the past funded research at NERC's marine laboratories on a wide range of subjects, and also liaises with NERC over the development of its thematic programmes. DEFRA is funding an extensive programme of research at the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Acquaculture Science and several other institutes into fishing impact on the seabed, but focussing on coastal rather than deep waters.
Mr. Morley: The Department is currently looking to establish Special Areas of Conservation and Special Protection Areas to extend the EC Habitats and Birds Directive beyond 12 nautical miles with a view to protecting vulnerable habitats and species. One potential site is an area of coral reef off the North West coast of Scotland known as the Darwin Mounds thought to have been subject to damage by trawl gear. We will work to get the Commission to bring forward the necessary legislation to restrict fishing activity where a habitat is in need of protection but is situated in international waters. More generally, one of our priorities for the forthcoming review of the Common Fisheries Policy is the greater integration of environmental concerns into fisheries policy: this will involve action to reduce the impact of fishing on non target species and sensitive habitats.
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