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Mr. Connarty: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the benefits of access to broadband services for rural diversification; and if she will make a statement. [61793]

Alun Michael: The Government are convinced that ICT has a central role in broadening the economic base in rural areas. Stimulating broadband across the whole of the UK, especially outside of large towns and cities, is one of Government's top priorities. Measures to drive further roll-out will include:

Mr. Connarty: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what target she has set for the roll-out of broadband services across the rural community; and if she will make a statement. [61794]

Alun Michael: In February 2002 the Government published "UK Online: the Broadband Future" which set the target for the UK to have the most extensive and competitive broadband market in the G7 by 2005. The Government have put in place a £30 million fund to allow regional development agencies and devolved Administrations to develop schemes for extending broadband into areas that appear commercially unattractive. Along with the Minister for Trade, I have discussed implementation with the regional development agencies in England and they are focusing on how best to target the needs of their region.


Mrs. Lawrence: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much the average UK family of four contributed to the CAP in the last year for which estimates are available. [60558]

Mr. Morley: Individuals in the UK contribute to the CAP as consumers through higher food prices and as taxpayers through CAP direct support payments.

We estimate that, in 2000, a notional UK family of four paid £4-£5 per week in higher food prices as a result of the CAP. UK taxpayers do not contribute specifically to the CAP; rather, they contribute to the EU budget as a

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whole. Total EU payments in 2000 were approximately £51 billion (83 billion euros), of which around £25 billion (40.5 billion euros) was spent under the CAP. The UK currently provides around 13.5 per cent. of total budgetary contributions.


Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will place in the Library a detailed account of the eutrophication methodology that she proposes to use to implement the EC nitrates directive. [61555]

Mr. Meacher [holding answer 13 June 2002]: The methodology used to identify eutrophic nitrate vulnerable zones is summarised in annex A of the consultation paper "How should England implement the 1991 Nitrates Directive?", published in December 2001, and set out in more detail in annex B of the consultation paper "Methodology for identifying sensitive areas (Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive) and Methodology for designating vulnerable zones (Nitrates Directive) in England and Wales", published by the then Department of the Environment, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, and Welsh Office, in March 1993. Both publications should be available in the Library.


Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to the answer of 16 May, Official Report, column 829W, on CERRIE, what the job titles are of the CERRIE Secretariat; and when the CERRIE website will become active. [62004]

Mr. Meacher: The CERRIE Secretariat do not have formal job titles beyond being members of the secretariat. The CERRIE website became active on 31 May 2002.

Protected Areas

Mr. Spring: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what evaluation the Government have made of the success of the Natura 2000 network of protected areas in the European Union; and what role the Government are playing in plans to extend these areas to new member states upon enlargement. [61992]

Mr. Meacher: The EU Habitats Directive (92/43/EC) requires each member state to identify and select special areas of conservation that, together with special protection areas under the Birds Directive, will form a coherent European ecological network to be known as Natura 2000. However, the adoption of site lists across the whole EU has been delayed, with lists comprising the six biogeographic regions not expected to be finalised until next year. Following the adoption of the lists of sites it will be for the European Commission and member states collectively to ensure that the network is evaluated against its stated aim of maintaining or restoring the features concerned at a favourable conservation in their natural range.

Member states are required to produce 6-yearly reports on the implementation of the Directive. Most member states have now done so for the period June 1994–December 2000. As soon as all countries have done so the Commission will seek to evaluate member states'

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successes. The UK's report "First Report by the United Kingdom under Article 17 on implementation of the Directive from June 1994 to December 2000" is in the House Library.

To join the European Union countries have to have a requirement to implement the environmental acquis, which includes implementation and enforcement of environment legislation on the Birds and Habitats Directives. No transitional periods have been agreed for these Directives and the UK has supported new member states proposing Natura 2000 sites upon entry. Scientific advice and support has been provided by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee to some enlargement countries to assist them to understand and apply the site selection requirements of the Habitats Directive.

Rural Population

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what proportion of the population lives in rural areas broken down by (a) parliamentary constituency and (b) district and unitary councils. [60834]

Alun Michael: Information on the percentage of the population living in rural wards in each (a) parliamentary constituency and (b) district and unitary councils in England is contained in the attached tables. A copy will be placed in the House of Commons Library.

Performance Targets

Tony Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list the performance targets that her Department, its agencies and non-departmental public bodies are required to meet, apart from those set out in the public service agreements for 1999 to 2002 and 2001 to 2004; and if she will specify for each target (a) who sets it and (b) who monitors achievement against it. [60469]

Mr. Morley: Since the creation of DFERA in June 2001, the new department has focused, through the SR2002 process, on developing a set of performance targets which properly reflects its new role and responsibilities.

The performance targets for DEFRA, other than those set out in its interim PSA, are drawn from both the former MAFF Service Delivery Agreement and parts of the former DETR Service Delivery Agreement. These targets were agreed between each department and the Treasury.

Progress against these targets is monitored by the Finance, Planning and Resources Directorate of DEFRA. Details of the SDAs can be found at:


The DEFRA Departmental Report (Cmd 5422) provides details of how to access information about its Executive Agencies and Non Departmental Public Bodies including information on business plans and performance targets.


John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to make the irresponsible spread of ragwort a prosecutable offence; and if she will make a statement. [60763]

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Mr. Morley: Using powers contained in the Weeds Act 1959, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs can take statutory action to control the spread of five injurious weeds, including common ragwort.

Under the Act, the Secretary of State can serve an enforcement notice on an occupier of land on which any of the five injurious weeds are growing requiring the occupier to take action to prevent the weeds from spreading. The Act also permits officials to enter land to inspect whether an enforcement notice has been complied with. If an occupier has unreasonably failed to comply with the notice, he or she shall be guilty of an offence and, on conviction, is liable to a fine. The Act also contains additional powers, which enable the Secretary of State to take action to arrange for the weeds to be cleared and recover the cost of doing so from the occupier, if necessary through the courts. If the occupier of the land cannot be traced and he or she is not the owner of the land, the costs may be recovered from the owner, or failing that, a charge in respect of the costs may be placed on the land by order of the courts.

In practice, it is rarely necessary to invoke the formal powers of the Weeds Act. DEFRA investigates each complaint about injurious weeds on its merits, but gives priority to complaints where there is a threat to farmland, farming activities and on farm diversified equine activities. Once DEFRA officials have made the occupier of land aware of the presence of injurious weeds, the matter can usually be resolved satisfactorily through co-operation and advice, without taking statutory action.

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