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Bushmeat Trade

Mr. Gardiner: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if her Department has approached Governments in countries in Central and West Africa to establish mechanisms to control the illegal international trade in bushmeat. [70305]

Mr. Meacher: As a result of my Department's representations at the eleventh Conference of CITES Parties in April 2000, the CITES Bushmeat Working Group was established. We have contributed £55,000 to the Group, which aims to help Central and West African range states develop and implement their own solutions, including the revision and harmonisation of their wildlife policies and legislation. We have also funded research analysing existing knowledge and expertise on the bushmeat trade, highlighting gaps in data and understanding, and making recommendations on further action. The results of this research have been made available to the CITES Working Group and we expect them to be discussed at the Group's next meeting, due to take place in Brazzaville later this month. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) hopes to represent the UK at this meeting.

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Through the FCO, we have also been using the UK diplomatic missions in Harare, Accra, Abuja, Cairo, Pretoria, Kampala, Abidjan, Maseru, Dakar, Luanda, Nairobi, Kigali, Mbabane and Tunis to raise awareness of the restrictions on importing meat into the UK.

Mr. Gardiner: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to raise the issue of the unsustainable bushmeat trade at the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species. [70301]

Mr. Meacher: The Secretariat to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) has prepared a progress report on the work of the CITES Bushmeat Working Group, and a draft Decision extending the life of the Working Group, for consideration by the forthcoming Conference of CITES Parties in November. We shall support the draft Decision and continue to encourage and support the work of the Working Group.

Mr. Gardiner: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations she has made to the Department for International Development to establish a joint approach to tackling the unsustainable bushmeat trade. [70303]

Mr. Meacher: The Department and the Department for International Development (DfID) already takes a joint approach to tackling unsustainable trade in bushmeat, and are in regular contact on this issue. For example, officials participate in the UK Tropical Forest Forum's Bushmeat Working Group; DEFRA and FCO are represented on the Steering Group for DfID's Wildlife and Poverty research study; DfID represented UK (including DEFRA) interests at the IUCN's Bushmeat Seminar in Yaounde in September 2001, and officials from DfID and the Overseas Development Institute produced DEFRA's bushmeat paper for the last CITES Conference in April 2000.

Sustainable Development

Mr. Gardiner: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if her Department plans to support Type 2 Initiatives arising from the World Summit on Sustainable Development. [70310]

Mr. Meacher: The UK is enthusiastic about the inclusion of partnerships (the so called "Type 2" Initiatives) within the outcomes of the World Summit since Governments alone cannot implement sustainable development. My Department is supporting the development of a range of partnerships in the run up to the summit, as are others, and we hope that a number of these will be registered as Type 2 initiatives. These include the EU initiative on water, several energy partnerships including the Global Village Energy Partnership, the EU Energy for Sustainable Development Initiative and the Global Network on Energy for Sustainable Development, the UK-led Partners for Water Supply and Sanitation and Sustainable Tourism initiatives, the London Principles on Sustainable Finance and the US-led Caribbean Partnership on improved marine management. Final decisions on the level of UK support for these and other partnerships will be made nearer the time.

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Plastic Waste

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what waste products are produced when plastic products are disposed of by (a) incineration and (b) burial in landfill sites. [70258]

Mr. Meacher: Plastics products comprise a wide range of polymerised organic compounds mixed with additives to enhance particular properties. By-products produced on disposal will depend on the type of plastic. When incinerated, plastics will mostly form carbon dioxide and water. Chlorinated plastics, such as PVC, will produce hydrochloric acid. In general they will not degrade to any great extent in landfill and will make little contribution to the production of leachate and landfill gas.

Organic Foods

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what controls are in place on the spraying of organic foods with chemicals by (a) wholesalers and (b) retailers. [70245]

Mr. Morley: Council Regulation 2092–91 (EEC) prescribes the standards which must be observed if food is to be labelled as organic, including the inputs which may be used in the production and preparation of organic food. The Regulation permits only a restricted range of inputs to be used.

Countryside Stewardship Schemes

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what countryside stewardship schemes are available for small dairy farmers. [70246]

Mr. Morley: There are a number of existing options under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme that may be relevant to dairy production. For example, buffer strips within improved grassland are designed to protect habitats and conservation features from potentially damaging agricultural operations. Capital works programmes under the Scheme can also be relevant to livestock units, including those that are primarily involved with dairy production. In addition, we have recently begun a six-year research programme to investigate a range of possible environmental measures that would be compatible with intensive dairy farming.

Following the announcement of the outcome of the Spending Review on 15 July, the way is now open to implement the recommendations of the Curry Commission on an 'entry-level' agri-environment scheme. This will be designed to be as accessible as possible to all farmers, including those in the dairy sector and will be piloted for two years and rolled out in 2005–06.

New Forest National Park

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will delay the commencement of the public inquiry into the proposed New Forest national park until the current public inquiry into the proposed development of Dibden Bay by ABP has been concluded. [71026]

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Alun Michael: Following a pre-inquiry meeting on 1 July, the Inspector has produced a draft programme for the New Forest inquiry. This shows that most of the parties involved in both inquiries are not due to appear at the New Forest inquiry before January. The Inspector has indicated that he is prepared to be sensitive to difficulties experienced by such parties in the programming of their appearances at this inquiry.

I therefore do not intend to delay the start of the public inquiry into the New Forest national park as that would not be in the public interest. I recognise that the October start date may be inconvenient for some who are also involved in the current Dibden Bay inquiry, but that inquiry is due to close in December. Much of its work will therefore be over by October when the New Forest inquiry opens.

Vehicular Access

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the criteria by which roads and pathways will be categorised under the Countryside, England Vehicular Access Across Common and Other Land (England) Regulations 2002. [71232]

Alun Michael: No such criteria exist because the only rights that can be created under the regulations are private ones. The regulations apply where the owner of premises can show vehicular use of any piece of land for such a time and in such a manner that, had it not been an offence to drive across the land, a prescriptive right would have been acquired. The only categorisation of the type of land is that it must be land over which it is a criminal offence to drive.

Village Halls

Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many village halls were built in England between 1997 and 2002. [71235]

Alun Michael: This information is not held centrally in the manner requested and the information could be secured only at disproportionate cost.

In 1997 the Countryside Agency published research which showed that 72 per cent. of villages had a village hall. The definition has been refined following responses to that research which indicated that some villages have a community hall which is technically not a "village hall" but fulfils largely the same purpose. In November 2001 the Countryside Agency published a report entitled "Rural Services in 2000" which revealed that 85 per cent. of parishes had a village hall or a community hall in 2000. The proportion of parishes with a hall is 32 per cent. for those below 100 population, 77 per cent. for those with between 100 and 300 people, 92 per cent. for those between 300 and 500, 94 per cent. for those between 500 and 1,000, 95 per cent. for those between 1,000 and 2,000, 98 per cent. for those between 2,000 and 5,000, and 96 per cent. for those over 5,000.

Village halls can play a vital role in rural communities as multi-purpose community centres and hubs for village life. We are supporting the development of active local communities and parish and town councils in a variety of ways; the village hall as a hub for social activity and

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service provision fits in well with our policy objectives, and support of village halls and the activities that take place there is available from a range of public sector and other sources.

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