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Balfour Beatty

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will place in the Library a copy of the contract between the Government and Balfour Beatty for the refurbishment of 22 Whitehall. [55259]

Mr. Alexander: I have been asked to reply.

As my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister stated to my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North (Ms Walley) on 14 May 2002, Official Report, column 567W, an initial report on timber procurement for 22 Whitehall has been received and there will be a report to the House when the report is finalised.

Urban Green Spaces Taskforce

Mr. Hepburn: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister when he will respond to the final report of the urban green spaces taskforce; and if he will make a statement. [67846]

Mr. McNulty: We welcome the proposals of the final report, which provide a good basis for preparing our policy on provision and management of urban parks and green spaces as proposed in the urban White Paper [Cm 4911].

Our responses to a majority of the 52 recommendations of the final report rely on other initiatives which have yet to conclude. These include the current spending review, the cross cutting review on improving the public space, and the revision of planning policy guidance on open space, recreation and sports. We also wish to take advice from the Steering Committee set up by the OPDM to consider specific recommendations from the report.

We plan to integrate our policy on urban parks and green spaces with our strategy and action plan for improving public spaces. The resulting document will address all the recommendations of the final report and deliver our urban White Paper commitments for long-term improvements to urban green spaces. The strategy will be published in the autumn.

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Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures are (a) in place and (b) under discussion in her Department in order to ensure compliance with the WEE Directive. [60757]

Mr. Meacher: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my hon. Friend the Minister for Energy and Construction on 13 June 2002, Official Report, column 1266W.

Packaging Waste

Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate her Department has made of the increase in domestic recycling required in order to achieve new packaging and packing waste recycling and recovery targets under discussion in the EU; and what discussions she has had with local authorities in relation to increasing domestic and curbside collection of packaging waste to meet recovery and recycling targets by 2006. [62363]

Mr. Meacher: The Department worked with the task force of the Advisory Committee on Packaging (ACP) in the production of a report, published in November 2001, which looked at packaging material flows from raw material manufacturer to seller, and at packaging waste flows from point of discard to ultimate disposal or recovery. This report, which is publicly available, also looked at the likely level of packaging waste arising in the household stream and which would increasingly have to be recovered if likely higher targets are to be met.

New packaging waste recovery targets have not yet been finalised but for the purposes of the estimates in the task force report an overall recycling target of 60 per cent. is assumed to have to be met in 2006. The tonnage needed to meet such a target would be in the region of 5.7 million tonnes and the task force report concludes that as much as 65 per cent. of the additional tonnage required may need to be recovered from the household waste stream.

A first meeting to discuss future packaging waste recovery from the household waste stream was held last year between officials in my Department, the ACP task force and local authorities. Further meetings are planned.

Holsworthy Biogas Project

Mr. Burnett: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much public money has been spent on the Holsworthy Biogas project; what steps her Department took to ensure that all licensing requirements were in place before public money was spent; what steps her Department took to vet the business plan for this project and when the steps were taken; what assessment she has made of the (a) viability of the business plan and (b) profitability of the project; and if she will make a statement. [61770]

Mr. Meacher [holding answer 17 June 2002]: £1,870,315 of UK public expenditure and £1,924,985 of European funding has been committed to this project, the total project costs for which are £7,700,000. To date, some £1,515,014 of UK public expenditure has been made. The Department routinely assessed all applications for funding under the Objective 5b programme. Such

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assessment included consideration of the business plan, the environmental impact and the profitability of the project. At the time of assessment and approval of the Holsworthy Biogas project, it was not recognised that restrictions on disposal of waste food would prevent the plant being licensed. However, following the recent risk assessment commissioned by the Government we are reviewing the Animal By-Products legislation with a view to permitting the treatment of catering waste in composting and biogas processes.

Mobile Recycling Plants

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many mobile recycling plants there are in operation in the UK; and what their weekly capacity is. [62976]

Mr. Meacher [holding answer 18 June 2002]: Two mobile recycling plant licensed by the Environment Agency have been operating in the UK. The capacity of each is approximately 4,000 refrigerators per week. In addition one fixed plant was commissioned this week and will begin operating shortly and a further two are due to be operating within a month. All are for the removal of ozone depleting substances from refrigerator equipment, and the combined capacity of all plant will be 1.2 million units per year.

Kyoto Protocol

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if the Government support the extension of the Kyoto Protocol to cover developing nations. [63519]

Mr. Meacher: The Government are committed to the principle that developed countries, as the biggest emitters, should take the lead in reducing emissions. We are therefore working to secure ratification and early entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol, under which developed countries take on legally binding emission reduction targets for the period 2008–12. Developing countries are covered by the Kyoto Protocol. Under its terms, they do not have legally binding greenhouse gas emission targets but must take steps to limit their emissions and to report on their efforts. A number of developing countries have already ratified the Protocol and we hope that as many developing countries as possible will follow that lead. The Government hope that the entry into force of the Protocol will provide the basis on which we can enter into an international dialogue with developed and developing countries (or "all countries") on future action to tackle climate change. In due course, all countries that emit significant quantities of greenhouse gases will need to take action if we are to meet the UN Climate Change Convention's objective of stabilising greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a safe level.

Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions the Government have had with (a) US representatives, (b) the IMF, (c) the World bank, (d) the WTO and (e) developing nations regarding emissions reductions and the transfer of clean technologies to developing countries. [66643]

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Mr. Meacher [holding answer 3 July 2002]: The Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs have discussed a wide range of climate change issues with US representatives this year, including emissions reductions and technology transfer to developing countries. Most recently the importance of tackling climate change was discussed at the G8 Heads of Government meeting on 26–27 June in Kananaskis, attended by the Prime Minister and President Bush. Other Government Ministers and officials take every opportunity to engage constructively with the US on climate change.

While the Government have had no recent discussions with the IMF on these issues, we are actively encouraging a substantial and successful third replenishment of the Global Environment Facility, the focus of which includes climate change activities in developing countries.

The Department for International Development has been working closely with the World bank and a number of other agencies to assess the impact of climate change on poverty.

Climate change is rarely discussed in the forum of the WTO and the Government have had no discussions with it on the particular issues of emissions reductions and technology transfer.

Government Ministers and officials regularly discuss these and a range of other climate change related issues with representatives from developing countries. We will continue to work constructively on climate change with our international partners in the run up to the Eighth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in October, in Delhi.

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