Previous Section Index Home Page

Plant and Animal Control Systems

Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to harmonise the control systems for plants and animals with special reference to improving co-operation between the port health authorities and the Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate. [69549]

Mr. Morley: The Cabinet Office are undertaking a study into how the various parts of Government control the import of animals, plants, and animal and plant products. The study will take place over the summer. Arrangements for co-operation between port health authorities and DEFRA's Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate will be reviewed in the light of the outcome of that study.

Animal Diseases

Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what strains of (a) swine fever and (b) foot and mouth disease have been found over the past five years. [69550]

Mr. Morley: In the United Kingdom, the outbreaks of classical swine fever that occurred in East Anglia during 2000 were caused by a strain of virus belonging to genotype 2.1 and the foot and mouth disease outbreak during 2001 was caused by the pan asia strain of type O virus.

Other than these outbreaks in the United Kingdom, the most comprehensive source of information of disease strains identified is on the OIE website. eng/info/hebdo/A—DSUM.htm gives information of outbreaks of disease worldwide since 2001 and http://—20000922a.htm gives information on strains of diseases found in outbreaks in Europe in 2000. Both of these sites give information on swine fever and foot and mouth disease.

Advisory Committee Mandate

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the mandate of the Committee on organic production of agricultural products and indications referring thereto on agricultural products and foodstuffs is; how many times it has met over the last 12 months; what the UK representation on it is; what the annual cost of its work is to public funds; if she will list the items currently under its consideration; if she will take steps to increase its accountability and transparency to Parliament; and if she will make a statement. [55245]

Mr. Morley: The mandate of the Regulatory Committee on Organic Farming is set out in Article 14 of Council Regulation (EEC) No. 2092/91. Standard rules of procedure were adopted by the Commission on 31 January 2001 in accordance with Council Regulation 1999/468/EC.

The Regulatory Committee on Organic Farming met three times during 2001. (The UK attended a further 18 meetings of working groups supporting the Committee.) The meetings were attended by officials from the Department.

17 Jul 2002 : Column 302W

The annual costs are estimated to be £14,000 in travel and subsistence expenses. The meetings, including preparation time and activities following the meetings, take approximately 150 staff days per annum.

Items under consideration by the Committee in the last year include:

Together with member states, the Commission is currently conducting a review to bring existing legislation on the conduct of comitology committees into line with Council Decision 1999/468/EC, to "simplify the requirements for the exercise of implementing powers conferred on the Commission".

As an obligation to this decision, the Commission undertook to publish an annual report on the working of committees. The first report was deposited in the Libraries of both Houses on 26 February 2002 (Com (2001) 783 Final.

As part of the review process, the UK Government have encouraged the Commission to produce and maintain an electronic database of every comitology committee, its agendas and recent actions, to be accessible through its website.


Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations have been made to her Department regarding rural lapwing population decline; and what measures her Department is taking to address this decline. [69630]

Mr. Meacher: The Department has sponsored extensive research over a number of years with the British Trust for Ornithology, the RSPB, and other organisations to try to identify the causes of the decline in lapwing and other farmland birds. The Department works closely with these organisations on formulating remedial measures. The Department is already diverting money from agricultural subsidies in the UK to double the size of our agri-environment scheme over the seven years of the England Rural Development Programme. The schemes include valuable incentives to encourage farmland birds such as the lapwing.

Water Level Management

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures her Department has taken to ensure that water level management plans are commensurate to their intended purpose; and what resources her Department has made available to implement these measures. [69629]

17 Jul 2002 : Column 303W

Mr. Morley: DEFRA provides guidance to the operating authorities (Environment Agency, internal drainage boards and local authorities) which prepare water level management plans (WLMPs). However, the Department does not approve the final plans and it is down to the operating authority to ensure that the plan is fit for its intended purpose. In terms of nature conservation, WLMPs must be agreed with English Nature.

While the Department has not funded the preparation of plans, we are grant-aiding flood management works arising from their implementation. We also fund and maintain a database of sites which records operating authorities progress in producing and implementing plans.

In 1999 DEFRA set up a WLMP Advisory Group which considers significant issues arising from the WLMP preparation and implementation processes and endeavours to identify solutions. The advisory group is currently preparing guidance to operating authorities on the impact of the habitats regulations on WLMPs.

Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to make the production of water level management plans eligible for grant aid. [68189]

Mr. Morley: The majority of water level management plans are now either complete, or awaiting approval by English Nature. The next stage is to ensure that the plans are implemented and reviewed. There are no plans by this Department to provide grant aid to assist with WLMP preparation.

Wildlife Preservation

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what (a) information and (b) incentives her Department provides to farmers regarding the establishment of field margins for wildlife preservation. [69631]

Mr. Morley: Cereal field margins are a priority habitat under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan, with a target of 12,725 hectares under sympathetic management in

17 Jul 2002 : Column 304W

England by 2010. The Department has been actively encouraging the management of field margins by making grants available in schemes such as Countryside Stewardship and Environmentally Sensitive Areas. As a result, the cereal field margin target has been exceeded almost 10 years ahead of schedule.

Grant aid is available for six and two-metre grass margins, beetle banks and uncropped strips. The new Countryside Stewardship arable options, introduced earlier this year, have added wildlife mixtures and conservation headlands to this list.

The Department funds ADAS and FWAG to provide free advice to farmers on a range of conservation issues, including the wildlife friendly management of field margins. DEFRA also co-funds a range of conservation leaflets with RSPB, which include advice and guidance on practical management of field margins.

Rights of Way

Andrew Bennett: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will set out the timetable for implementing part I of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 in order to achieve her Public Service Agreement target of opening up public access to mountain, moor, heath and down and registered common land by the end of 2005. [69392]

Alun Michael: Various regulations must be put in place in order that land may be opened up for access under Part I of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. I recently laid before Parliament regulations on the issue of provisional and conclusive maps of open country and registered common land, including appeals against provisional maps. This will enable the Countryside Agency to issue the first provisional map in England which will apply to the south-east. The table records the overall progress we have made towards consulting on these provisions and bringing them into force together with our current timetable for completing the process. The precise timing of each of the remaining intermediate stages may vary but we are firmly committed to meeting our Public Service Agreement target and I am currently considering whether the final stage can be implemented region by region ahead of the target date.

RegulationsSectionConsultation commencedConsultation endedDate regulations in force
Regulations regarding mapping of access land and consultation on draft maps11March 200120 June 20011 November 2001
Regulations regarding issue of provisional maps, appeals, and issue of conclusive maps11November 20018 February 200229 July 2002
Regulations regarding the establishment of local access forums and the appointment of members(4)94July 200123 October 2001August 2002
Regulations regarding dedication of land for access16January 200215 April 2002November 2002
Regulations relating to exclusion or restriction of access under Chapter II, including appeals (but not emergencies)32December 200122 March 2002December 2002
Regulations on removal or relaxation of restrictions on access land and to exclude access in emergencies (including appeals) (5)31January 2003August 2003
Regulations on appeals relating to notices38February 2003September 2003
References to public places in existing enactments42February 2003October 2003
Regulations regarding review of conclusive maps11February 2004August 2004

(4) Part V

(5) Paragraph 7, Schedule 2

Under the Countryside Agency's current published timetable for the mapping of open country and registered common land, the final provisional map in England would be issued by the end of March 2004.

Next Section Index Home Page