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Nitrate-Sensitive Areas

Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many nitrate-sensitive areas have been designated. [54859]

Mr. Meacher: There are 66 nitrate vulnerable zones (NVZs) in England, which were designated in 1996.

In December 2001, in response to a European Court of Justice judgment, we consulted on options for completing implementation of the nitrates directive in England. These would involve either designating additional nitrate vulnerable zones, or applying measures to prevent and control nitrate pollution throughout England.

We are still considering the responses to this consultation, and will announce a decision in due course.

Flooding

Alan Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what action the Government are taking to ensure that sustainable urban drainage systems are adopted and maintained by water companies. [54638]

Mr. Meacher: A Working Group chaired by the Environment Agency and comprising representatives of this Department and other interested parties has been set up to consider all aspects of the use of sustainable urban drainage systems. Among other things, it will be considering future responsibilities for installation and maintenance of such systems, including the extent of water and sewerage companies' responsibilities.

Waste Composting

Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if her Department plans to allow local authorities to count domestic composting towards their recycling targets; and if she will make a statement. [54599]

Mr. Meacher: We have no plans to allow local authorities to count domestic composting towards their recycling targets.

Local authorities benefit in two main ways from home composting. First, they save on the costs associated with collecting, transporting and composting this waste. Secondly, it increases their recycling rate because the home composted waste is not included in the calculation for the total amount of waste collected. This has the effect of increasing the percentage of household waste sent for recycling.

There are also real difficulties with the measurement of home composting. Accurate reporting against the statutory performance standards is essential if we are to ensure real efforts are made by local authorities to increase recycling and composting.

Kyoto Agreement

Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what part a

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reduction in HFC emissions in the UK will play in the United Kingdom's commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the Kyoto agreement. [54626]

Mr. Meacher: The UK is on course to meet, and go beyond, its target under the Kyoto Protocol to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 12.5 per cent. below 1990 levels by 2008–12. This target covers a basket of six greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride); the UK does not have targets under the Kyoto Protocol for the individual gases.

UK emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in 1995—the base year chosen for measuring emissions of these gases for the Kyoto Protocol—were equivalent to 4.1 MtC, contributing about 2 per cent. of the total greenhouse gas emissions in that year.

Action to reduce fugitive emissions of HFC-23 from HCFC-22 manufacturing plants have meant that total emissions of HFCs have fallen significantly since then. This will be partly offset by an increase in emissions from end use markets such as aerosols, refrigeration and foam blowing as consumption of HFCs increases in response to the phase out of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) under the Montreal Protocol. However, reduced levels of leakage and increased use of alternative fluids are expected to limit the increase in emissions.

Overall, annual emissions of HFCs are projected to be equivalent to 2.9 MtC in 2010, a fall of 29 per cent. from 1995 levels. The expected reductions in emissions of the other five greenhouse gases covered by the Kyoto Protocol mean that the relative contribution of HFCs emissions in 2010 is projected to be the same as in 1995, at about 2 per cent. of the total UK greenhouse gas emissions.

Timber

Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to the answer of 10 April 2002, Official Report, column 272W, on timber, if she will place in the Library the confirmation given by the Brazilian Government that the mahogany shipments in question did not breach CITES regulations. [54644]

Mr. Meacher: A copy of the translation of the document issued by the Brazilian Management Authority confirming that the CITES permits for the shipment in question were authentic has been placed in the Library.

Farm-scale Biodiversity Evaluations

Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the time scale was set out in the voluntary agreement with SCIMAC in November 1999 for the Scientific Steering Committee to review the data and provide recommendations on the farm-scale biodiversity evaluations. [54985]

Mr. Meacher: The voluntary agreement between SCIMAC and Government made in November 1999 states that:


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Refrigerators

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how the money allocated to help local authorities deal with the storage and disposal of refrigerators has been distributed. [55077]

Mr. Meacher: The £6 million allocated to local authorities for the extra costs they faced from 1 January to end March this year was added to local authorities' general grant for the current financial year. General grant is distributed to councils through standard spending assessments (SSA). The provision for waste disposal is included within the upper tier of the Environmental, Protection and Cultural Services (EPCS) SSA.

Marine Environment

Mrs. Helen Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what new funds her Department will provide to the statutory nature conservation agencies and Sea Fisheries Committee to allow them to meet their responsibilities to manage, protect and monitor the marine environment and its natural resources. [55768]

Mr. Meacher: Officials are currently discussing with English Nature their corporate plan for 2002–05. These discussions will focus on the need for resources to cover important areas of work such as the marine environment and in turn help inform the process for the Departments allocation of funds as part of spending review 2002.

Sea fisheries committees are committees of local authorities and are funded by local government. The Government have made it clear that no decisions will be taken on funding of sea fisheries committees until the Common Fisheries Policy review is complete. At that stage we will be better placed to assess any changes in our obligations for inshore management, including any additional environmental responsibilities.

Mrs. Helen Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when the Government's Review of Marine Nature Conservation will report on its findings. [55769]

Mr. Meacher: The regional seas pilot scheme in the Irish sea recently announced by the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is due to report its findings to Government in the early part of 2004. The pilot scheme's findings will inform the review's final recommendations to Government which we hope to receive by the end of 2004.

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Sellafield

Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what actions BNFI has taken to stop the leaks from the sludge storage tanks in Building B24L at Sellafield; and when this work will be complete. [53662]

Mr. Wilson: I have been asked to reply.

BNFL has undertaken a number of projects aimed at improving the integrity of the B241 tanks, reducing the potential for material to leak from the plant and enabling the removal of the inventory from the tanks. This work has been ongoing since 1993. BNFL expects that the work to remove the majority of the active inventory will be completed in approximately 11 years.


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