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Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many breeders have applied to take part in (a) the Ram Genotyping Scheme for Purebred Registered Flocks and (b) the Ram Genotyping Scheme for Purebred Non-Registered Flocks; how many blood sampling visits have taken place so far for each scheme; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Morley: As at 13 June, a total of 6,491 farmers had completed an expression of interest form in respect of the Ram Genotyping Scheme for Purebred Registered Flocks and 4,366 had applied to join the scheme. As at the same date, a total of 2,153 farmers had completed an expression of interest form in respect of the Ram Genotyping Scheme for Purebred Non-registered Flocks; application forms have not yet been issued under this scheme but that will happen shortly.
As at 13 June, a total of 2,405 blood sampling visits had been completed in respect of the Ram Genotyping Scheme for Purebred Registered Flocks and a further 520 had been arranged. Sampling visits in respect of the Ram Genotyping Scheme for Purebred Non-registered Flocks will commence once application forms have been received from those who have expressed an interest in the scheme.
The levels of uptake so far represent an encouraging start to the schemes and the Government are working with the industry to build further on this. The Government attach high importance to the National Scrapie Plan whose objective is to eradicate TSEs from the national sheep flock, thereby helping to ensure that the sheep industry provides a product that meets the high quality standards rightly expected by consumers.
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she plans to change the number of her Department's regional offices. 
Mr. Morley: The State Veterinary Service (SVS) proposes when resources become available, to realign its animal health divisional office boundaries to coincide with the boundaries of Government offices in order to improve disease emergency response capability. Although
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a bid has been made to allow the possibility of opening an additional regional office, this will be only one of the issues that may be considered in any accompanying review of the hierarchy of the SVS, and no final decisions have yet been taken.
No other changes to the number of offices in DEFRA's regional structure are planned.
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to introduce shellfish licensing. 
Mr. Morley: We are committed to introducing shellfish licensing and I am considering the timing and format of a scheme in the light of comments received in response to consultation.
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make it her policy to pay interest to beef producers on beef support scheme payments that the Rural Payments Agency is unable to pay out by 30 June. 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 13 June 2002]: The EU regulations do not provide for compensation where payments are made after the expiry of the regulatory payment window. Nor is it Government policy to make such payments. Notwithstanding that general position, the circumstances leading to the failure in some cases to meet the 30 June deadline for bovine payments is under review to identify whether there are any factors which would justify a departure from this position.
Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent steps she has taken to solicit views on the Government's proposals on hunting with dogs; and if she will make a statement. 
Alun Michael: Following my statement to the House on 21 March I have written to all Members of both Houses of Parliament, to all members of the National Assembly for Wales and to interested organisations and individuals on 10 April and again on 31 May. I have placed these letters on the DEFRA website and sent copies of the letter of 31 May to everyone who responded to that of 10 April. I have also met delegations from the three main umbrella groups and a number of other organisations with a particular interest in the future of hunting. I am also considering other ways of examining evidence and enabling intelligent debate involving those whose views are strongly opposed.
Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether goats are under the same classification as sheep for the purposes of SI No. 843. 
Mr. Morley: TSE measures in relation to sheep and goats are set out in Regulation (EC) No. 999/2001, which came into force across the European Union on 1 July
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2001. The TSE (England) Regulations 2002 (SI 2002 No. 843) provide the administration and enforcement powers needed to give effect to the directly applicable Community requirements in this country. Requirements for ovine and caprine animalscovering, for example, suspected and confirmed scrapie cases, compulsory testing and monitoring programmes and specified risk materialare clearly stated throughout the regulations.
Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what evaluation she has made of the relevance of the United Nations Environment Programme's Global Environment Outlook-3 (GEO-3) report to the United Kingdom and overseas territories. 
Mr. Meacher: The GEO-3 report provides an authoritative assessment that informs our thinking on global sustainable development. Although it does not single out individual countries, it makes clear that action is required by all countries in the north and the south to reverse environmental degradation. The report is an unequivocal reminder that sustainable development rests on three pillarseconomic, social and environmental. It highlights the need for action in key areas, such as biodiversity, climate change, forests and oceans. The UK Government takes the problems identified by the report extremely seriously and is taking appropriate action including;
Taking significant steps to conserve, and sustainable use, biodiversity in the UK and overseas.
Taking significant steps to achieve sustainable forest management in the UK and assist others to do so abroad.
Providing extra protection for marine species and habitats under threat. We are promoting the case for marine protected areas on the high seas and are conducting an integrated assessment of the state of our seas.
Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what her estimate is of (a) the value and (b) the acreage of contaminated land. 
Mr. Meacher: The Environment Agency has estimated that there may be some 300,000 hectares of land in the UK affected to some extent by industrial or natural contamination. However, much of this contamination will be relatively minor. It is not possible to estimate the value of this land because the total is not derived from an assessment of individual sites and value depends on site-specific factors such as land use or planning permissions.
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Under Part IIA ("contaminated land") of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, local authorities are under a statutory duty to inspect their areas to identify contaminated land as defined in the Act. Broadly speaking, this is land which poses an unacceptable risk to human health or the environment in its current circumstances. This is an ongoing duty, which came into effect in April 2000 in England and more recently in Wales. It involves detailed risk assessments and determinations on a site-specific basis. The regime is described in DETR Circular 02/2000, "Contaminated Land". The Environment Agency will include data in its periodic State of Contaminated Land reports, the first of which for England is due to be completed this summer. I will arrange for a copy to be placed in the Library.
Mr. Spring: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment the Government have made of the success of the EU LIFE Programme. 
Mr. Meacher: The EC LIFE programme provides co-financing for actions both in nature conservation (LIFE-Nature) and in other fields of the environment (LIFE-Environment), as well as specific environmental actions outside the EU (LIFE Third Countries). The European Commission is responsible for implementing the LIFE programme.
My Department has been fully involved in the assessment currently being carried out by the Court of Auditors on the LIFE programme. The Commission are required (under Article 12 of Regulation EC 16552000 of the European Parliament and the Council concerning LIFE) to produce a report on the implementation of the LIFE Regulation, including the programme's contribution to the development of Community environment policy, by 30 September 2003.
In the UK, the LIFE fund has provided significant financial assistance to a number of projects under both the LIFE-Nature and LIFE-Environment components. Between 1992 and 2000, the UK has secured 92 LIFE- Environment projects, receiving around 49 million co-funding (approximately £30 million). Over the same period, 30 LIFE-Nature projects have been supported with co-funding amounting to over 30 million (approximately £18.5 million).
The European Commission has just published the document 'Life after LIFE', which sets out a number of LIFE-Nature project case studies and provides an illustration of some of the longer-term results of LIFE-Nature funding. A copy of this will be placed in the House Library.
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