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29. Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the recent UN report on the threat to 1,000 species of mammals and on international efforts to support biodiversity. [63034]

Mr. Meacher: Information from the World Conservation Union (IUCN) on the conservation status of species is reported in UNEP's Global Environment Outlook (GEO 3) published recently. The IUCN analysis from the year 2000 estimated that about 24 per cent. (1,130) of mammals and 12 per cent. (1,183) of birds are considered to be globally threatened. Since IUCN's previous assessment in 1996 the number of critically

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endangered species has increased from 169 to 180 mammals and from 168 to 182 birds. These figures are a stark warning of the need for action to conserve biodiversity and to protect species and an indication of the size of the challenge. It needs international co-operation to address problems on this scale. We are working within existing international agreements to this end and will be looking to the World Summit on Sustainable Development for a renewed level of commitment.

Many mammal species in danger of over-exploitation through trade are listed on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). This regulates trade in animals and plants, and products derived from them, to ensure it is carried out in a sustainable way to safeguard the long-term survival of species. Trade in the most endangered species is banned while that in species which may become endangered is carefully regulated and monitored through a system of import and export permits. There are approximately 30,000 species listed on CITES, around 5,000 of which are mammals.

The UK is taking action at home and abroad to conserve biodiversity. The Darwin initiative launched at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 is a fund to assist countries that are rich in biodiversity but poor in resources to conserve their biological diversity. The fifth report on the Darwin Initiative was published on 17 July and copies placed in the Library of the House. So far it has provided £27 million to over 270 projects with links to some 80 developing countries. Through the UK's contributions the Global Environment Facility (GEF) we are helping developing countries and countries with economies in transition to meet their obligations under the Convention on Biological Diversity. We are aiming for a significant replenishment of the GEF as soon as possible. And DFID are supporting sustainable forest management programmes in a number of developing countries.

Agrimonetary Compensation

30. Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent representations she has received on applying for agrimonetary compensation for farmers; and if she will make a statement on the rationale behind her Department's decision not to apply for much funding. [63035]

Mr. Morley: The Government has received representations from the industry and from hon. Members. While we acknowledge the difficulties the agricultural sector is facing and we are working with them on the recommendations of the Policy Commission on Farming and Food, we decided not to pay any further tranches of this subsidy given the many competing demands on the Exchequer at present. More than 80 per cent. of the cost would in effect have to be met by the British taxpayer.

Coastal Protection

31. Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the complexity of procedures for coastal protection. [63036]

Mr. Morley: Responsibility for deciding which flood and coastal defence projects to promote and their timing rests with operating authorities. This Department provides

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grants for flood and coastal defence capital works and associated studies, which meet essential technical, economic and environmental criteria and achieve an appropriate priority score. This Department has also provided the operating authorities with guidance on scheme appraisal.

In the case of coast protection there are specific requirements in the Coast Protection Act 1949 which require a proposed scheme to be advertised. Anyone can object to a proposed scheme and, if the objection is not withdrawn, the Secretary of State must determine it.

The procedures are kept under review and suggestions for change are considered carefully.


32. Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on recent moves towards reform of the common fisheries policy. [63037]

Mr. Morley: The Commission published its first set of proposals for reform of the common fisheries policy on 28 May 2002. Our preliminary assessment is that the aims of the proposals are broadly in line with the UK view developed in the light of our consultation with stakeholders last year about the Commission's Green Paper on the subject. We shall in coming weeks be assessing, again in consultation with all interested parties in the UK, all the possible implications of the Commission's proposals.

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the European Commission proposals for the reform of the common fisheries policy. [63020]

Mr. Morley: Our preliminary assessment is that the aims of the proposals are broadly in line with the UK view developed in the light of our consultation with stakeholders last year about the Commission's Green Paper on the subject. We shall in coming weeks be assessing, again in consultation with all interested parties in the UK, all the possible implications of the Commission's proposals.

Bali Conference

33. Mr. Simon Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the Bali prepcomm meeting. [63039]

Mr. Meacher: Progress was made on the importance of sanitation in eradicating poverty and meeting the millennium development goal on safe drinking water. Broad agreement was also reached on key issues such as the urgent need to restore fish stocks and address illegal fishing, and on the important role non-governmental actors can play in achieving sustainable development. The meeting also recognised the need for a strong focus on Africa.

Other difficult issues remain outstanding, such as how the summit can address trade and finance issues to complement the Monterrey Consensus and the Doha Development Agenda. There are also specific targets on sanitation, biodiversity loss and energy which have yet to be agreed. We are continuing to ensure a successful

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outcome for Johannesburg, including concrete actions and coherent work programmes on energy, water and sustainable patterns of consumption and production.

Nitrate-vulnerable Zones

Sir Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the introduction of nitrate-vulnerable zones. [63030]

Mr. Meacher: I refer you to the statement I am making today which outlines the action we are pursuing to tackle the problem of diffuse pollution of water by agriculture, including the designation of new nitrate vulnerable zones.

Water Pollution

Mrs. Fitzsimons: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what action is being taken to address diffuse pollution of water by agriculture; how the Government intend to implement the nitrates directive in England; and if she will make a statement. [65668]

Margaret Beckett: One year after the creation of DEFRA, it gives me enormous pleasure that what were different Departments are now working well together to develop an integrated approach to the problems of pollution, and especially diffuse pollution from agriculture.

The increased intensification of farm production and the great steps made to reduce point source pollution from factories and sewage works mean that, as the Policy Commission on Food and Farming noted, agriculture is now clearly one of the major contributors to the pollution of water. It is also a significant polluter of air.

Over time we will need to take further steps to reduce pollution from agriculture, but in a cost-effective way. We therefore need to involve farmers very closely in continuing work to achieve a cleaner and healthier environment. Many farmers are committed to protecting and enhancing the environment, but much more needs to be done to raise standards across all farms to the standards of the best, and to tackle the specific problem of diffuse pollution.

Over the next few years we will be implementing the EU directives we have signed up to in order to improve water quality. As part of this work, later this year we will be holding a more detailed consultation with all sectors to follow up our first general consultation on implementing the water framework directive.

Over 70 per cent. of nitrates and over 40 per cent. of phosphates in English waters originate from agricultural land. Up to a half of England's bathing waters are affected by short-term contamination by agricultural pollution, mainly by microbes from livestock manure being washed off farm land after rain. Excessive loads of fine silt are generated by soil erosion from intensively farmed land. Pesticides are contaminating drinking water sources, requiring expensive additional treatment at water works to remove pesticides before water can be supplied to consumers.

No one farmer is responsible for this, but cumulatively diffuse pollution from farms is having a substantial impact on the quality of English waters. That is why we have begun a strategic review of diffuse water pollution from

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agriculture, to identify cost-effective policy measures to prevent and control this pollution and to improve the sustainability of agriculture. We are co-ordinating this review with work announced in the Budget to review the particular role that economic instruments could play in tackling such pollution.

As part of the open approach to policy development that we are seeking to adopt in the new Department, I am publishing today a discussion document, "The Government's Strategic Review of Diffuse Water Pollution From Agriculture in England", so that we can start a debate with farmers and other stakeholders about the problems that we face and how we can best solve them. This marks the beginning of a process for working with stakeholders to develop a package of policy measures to reduce pollution.

Part of what we need to achieve is improved control of the application of manures and fertilisers to land. Through the review we are considering the full range of policy mechanisms that could play a part in the future in encouraging and assisting farmers to improve their management of manure and nutrients. But we also have to implement some measures now, to comply with the European Court of Justice judgment that we have failed to meet our obligations under the 1991 Nitrates Directive to tackle agricultural nitrate pollution of waters.

We published proposals for implementing the directive in December 2001. We have carefully considered the responses to the consultation, and I am today publishing an analysis of these responses. We have decided to apply the minimum regulation consistent with our obligations under the directive, to avoid closing off other options for tackling the wider problem of diffuse pollution that might be identified through the current review.

We will designate new nitrate vulnerable zones (NVZs) covering 47 per cent. of the land area of England, which will take the total designated area in England to 55 per cent. These are areas draining into rivers, ground water and other waters which are affected by nitrate pollution. In consequence, farmers using manufactured nitrogen fertilisers or organic manures will be required to follow an action programme to reduce pollution.

This action will help to prevent and reverse damaging impacts of eutrophication, and improve the quality of drinking water sources. Better control of manure spreading will also cut microbiological inputs to water, helping to maintain and further increase the quality of bathing waters and shellfish waters.

The overall extent of the new designations will be less than was originally estimated in the consultation document, as a result of work to define and quantify the NVZ areas more accurately than was possible at the time the consultation document was issued. Some new areas have been added, as was anticipated in the consultation document; but more areas have been removed.

I am today publishing a revised regulatory impact assessment, which estimates that the compliance costs incurred by farmers will amount to about £20 million per year. Costs will vary considerably from farm to farm, but I acknowledge that some farmers, particularly those who need to construct additional slurry storage facilities, will incur substantial costs. To assist those farmers who are most affected, we will extend the existing farm waste

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grant scheme to the new NVZ areas to help finance improvements to slurry storage facilities required to implement the action programme.

Formal designations setting down the precise boundaries of the new zones will follow as soon as possible, and it will become a legal requirement to follow the action programme from 19 December 2002. By the end of July, DEFRA will make available detailed interactive maps of the new NVZ areas. As soon as these are available, we will write to farmers to explain how to access these maps. We will also send all farmers in affected areas explanatory guidance material, together with sources of further advice on how to comply with the measures and details on the availability of grant under the farm waste grant scheme.

We are also taking action to reduce phosphate and nitrate pollution of waters from other sources, and are announcing, separately, additional designations under the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive that will require water companies to reduce phosphate or nitrate discharges from certain sewage treatment works.

We are also committed to improving air quality. 85 per cent. of the ammonia which enters the atmosphere in the UK comes from fertilisers and manures used in agriculture. We will be publishing a booklet later this summer, which will explain the problems caused by ammonia emissions, to initiate debate on how to tackle this related problem.

This all adds up to a substantial agenda for change. I recognise that we must secure these changes in ways which maximise the beneficial impact on the environment while minimising the regulatory burden on farmers. As we said in "Working Together", we need to explore joined-up ways of working; to develop whole farm approaches; and to identify smarter ways of regulating. For example, several of the measures I have mentioned could affect the ways farmers handle manures and fertilisers, pointing to the benefits of more integrated approaches.

Mrs. Fitzsimons: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the outcome was of the 2001 review of sensitive areas as required by the Urban Waste Water Treatment (England and Wales) Regulations 1994; and if she will make a statement. [65669]

Margaret Beckett: Based on recommendations from the Environment Agency I have reviewed the identification of Sensitive Areas in England in accordance with the criteria in Part 1 of Schedule 1 of the Urban Waste Water Treatment (England and Wales) Regulations 1994 (which transposes the European Council Directive (91/271/EEC) concerning urban waste water treatment).

This review has resulted in the identification of 33 more water bodies in England as Sensitive Areas. 32 are because the waters have since the last review in 1997 been found to be eutrophic, or that they may in the near future become eutrophic if protective action is not taken. Eutrophic waters are those which are, or may be, adversely (in terms of their ecology and quality) affected by discharges from sewage treatment works serving communities of more than 10,000 inhabitants.

The remaining water body, the River Itchen in the midlands, which supplies drinking water, has been identified on the basis of elevated levels of nitrate under the terms of the regulations.

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Identification of these areas will result in more stringent treatment being provided at 53 qualifying treatment works by water companies. This treatment involves reducing levels of phosphorus and/or nitrogen in discharges to tackle eutrophication and nitrate levels of these waters.

These new requirements on water companies to remove these nutrients from sewage treatment work discharges will complement and add to the action required by farmers under the Nitrates Directive, and by my Department on diffuse pollution, which I also announced today.

Lists of the new sensitive areas have today been deposited in the Libraries of both Houses. Maps showing the location of all current sensitive areas (eutrophic) and (nitrate) will be deposited in the Libraries of both Houses and at offices of the Environment Agency in due course.

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