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19 Sept 2002 : Column 242W—continued

Foot and Mouth

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what information and instructions EU member state Governments received from the European Union in respect of the outbreak of foot and mouth in KwaZulu-Natal last year; [280]

Margaret Beckett [holding answer 25 June 2001]: I regret that this reply has been overlooked. The Standing Veterinary Committee (SVC) first received a report from the European Commission of an unconfirmed foot and mouth outbreak in KwaZulu-Natal on 19–20 September 2000. On 3–4 October 2000 the Commission informed the SVC of two confirmed outbreaks and tabled background information of the action taken by the South African authorities. On 18 October 2000 the SVC was informed

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of one further outbreak and that a Commission inspection visit to South Africa was expected to take place on 23 October 2000.

On 7–8 November 2000 the European Commission informed the SVC of the outcome of the inspection and indicated that safeguard measures may be necessary. On 17 November 2000 the Commission adopted Decision 2000/739/EC formally stopping imports of fresh meat into the Community from 16 districts in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. On 5 December 2000 the Commission informed the SVC of an outbreak in Swaziland linked to the South African outbreaks. They confirmed that no export certificates could be signed by either country. At the SVC on 20 December 2000 the Commission reported there had been no change in the situation.

As there had been no significant improvement in the situation in South Africa, the Government took a decision to take additional safeguard measures by formally stop imports of meat of FMD susceptible species.

On 5 January 2001 the Government took measures under the Products of Animal Origin (Import and Export) Regulations 1996, prohibiting fresh meat imports from all of South Africa. A note explaining the situation was sent to trade interests on 8 January 2001, as was a letter to all UK Border Inspection Posts at ports and airports. Scotland and Northern Ireland took similar action shortly afterwards.

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) when the European Union converted its temporary suspension on South African meat imports into a formal import ban following the outbreak of foot and mouth in KwaZulu-Natal; and how the terms of the ban differed from those of the suspension; [213]

Margaret Beckett [holding answer 25 June 2001]: I regret that this reply has been overlooked. Technically there is no difference between a suspension and a ban.

In October 2000 the European Commission advised the Standing Veterinary Committee (SVC) that with effect from 21 September 2000, the South African authorities had stopped the issue of export certificates for fresh meat from 16 districts of the province of KwaZulu-Natal following an outbreak of foot and mouth disease. On 17 November 2000, the Commission adopted a Decision to formally stop the importation of fresh meat of foot and mouth disease susceptible species from the same 16 districts by amending the relevant Community legislation. The districts were as follows: Camperdown, Pietermaritzburg, Lions River, New Hanover, Umvoti, Kranskop, Mapumulo, Ndwedwe, Lower Tugela, Inanda, Pinetown, Durban, (including the metropolitan area of Durban), Chatsworth, Umzali, Umbumbulu and Richmond.

In August 2001, following sufficient guarantees from the South African authorities with regard to the control measures taken, some restrictions were lifted. Community restrictions remain in place in respect of the following areas:

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Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what information the letters sent by MAFF to border inspection posts and traders after 5 January included concerning (a) foot and mouth in KwaZulu-Natal last year and (b) outbreaks in other South African provinces. [427]

Margaret Beckett [holding answer 25 June 2001]: I regret that this reply has been overlooked. On 8 January 2001, traders and Border Inspection Posts (BIPs) were advised that the importation into England and Wales of fresh meat of FMD susceptible species from South Africa was prohibited unless it was produced before 15 September 2000. They were also advised that certain other products of animal origin derived from FMD susceptible species including meat products, blood and blood products, milk products and colostrum and bones, horns, hooves and products thereof may not be able to meet appropriate EU or GB certification requirements.

On 14 June 2001 a Declaration was issued in accordance with Regulation 35 of the Products of Animal Origin (Import and Export) Regulations 1996 permitting, in accordance with Community legislation, the importation into England and Wales of fresh meat of FMD susceptible species from those areas in South Africa where FMD is not present. Copies of the relevant letter to the trade and the Declaration are available on our website:

On 22 June a further Declaration and letters to traders and BIPS were issued in respect of the importation from South Africa of game meat. The letters also clarified the position with regard to imports of sheep meat as a result of an error in Community legislation.


Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what her policy is on the introduction of a system of individual transferable quotas across the EU. [64544]

Mr. Morley: Under the current EU rules the Total Allowable Catch for each fish stock is apportioned between Member States according to the principle of "relative stability". It is then for individual Member States to decide how the quota should be allocated to their fishing industries. We believe that this arrangement offers significant advantages in terms of flexibility and meeting the different needs of the fishing industries in different Member States. While we would, of course, consider carefully any proposal for a system of individual transferable quotas across the EU, it is not clear that such a system would yield greater benefits than the current arrangements.


Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment (a) has been and (b) is planned (i) by and (ii) for her Department on the problem of litter for (A) local authority

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roads, (B) trunk roads and motorways, (C) railway lines and (D) canals and other waterways; and if she will make a statement. [64740]

Mr. Meacher: The Environment Protection Act 1990: Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse defines standards of cleanliness for various locations and specifies periods of time within which any particular area should be returned to the appropriate standard, should it fall to a lower standard.

The Highways Agency is responsible for litter clearance on motorways and a few all-purpose trunk roads transferred under section 86(11) of the Act. All other roads are the responsibility of the local Districts and Borough Councils in respect of litter and refuse.

The managing agents and contractors employed by Highways Agency carry out daily safety patrols and weekly safety inspections on the motorways during which they also report on instances of litter accumulation. The contractor then removes litter to achieve the overall cleanliness standards set out in the Code.

The Highways Agency aims to secure continuous improvement in its routine maintenance through a move towards performance related procurement for all new contracts. One of the performance criteria of these new contracts is an environmental amenity index that examines the overall appearance of the road taking account of litter and debris, grass cutting, weed growth, cleanliness and visibility of signs.

Under the Pathfinder Programme, which I launched last year to address, amongst other local environment quality issues, ways of tackling litter in canals and other waterways, a methodology is being developed for DEFRA which allow the problem to be assessed.

It is planned that this methodology will be developed into a code of best practice for use on canals and other waterways.

I understand that Railtrack have in hand a national programme to ensure that the lineside is clear from surplus engineering material and debris by October 2002; and that systems are in place by the following month to prevent the future build-up of such material.

Radioactive Waste

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what representations she has received regarding the consultation on radioactive waste management; and if she will make a statement; [64793]

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Mr. Meacher: I refer the hon. Member to the letter of 29 July from my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State. She wrote to all Members with the results of the consultation on radioactive waste management, and announced the next steps of the policy making process.

The consultation on Managing radioactive waste safely, published by the UK Government and the devolved administrations, ran from 12 September 2001 to 12 March 2002 and 330 responses were received. A summary of the responses has been placed in the Library of the House, and those of the devolved administrations. The summary lists other events during the consultation period, including recommendations from two Parliamentary Select Committees and a number of research reports. Copies of individual responses are available in my Department's Library, and in those of the relevant Departments in the devolved administrations.

In her letter, my right hon. Friend said that the Government and the devolved administrations had considered these responses and recommendations and decided the next steps in the policy process. In particular, we propose to press ahead with a review of waste management options. The review will seek the views of interested stakeholders, the public and government departments. We will appoint an independent body to oversee the review process which will make recommendations on the option, or combination of options, for managing radioactive waste which would achieve long-term protection for people and the environment. We will review all options and revise the timetable to a four stage process rather than five as proposed in the original consultation.

The review process must engage with stakeholders and the public. The review will therefore start by setting the framework for debate by establishing broad agreement on the wastes to be considered, the range of management options for each of them, and the criteria against which these options should be assessed. We want to promote a dynamic and extensive process of public engagement. This approach, coupled with regular reports to our Parliaments and Assemblies, will reach far more people and encourage active involvement in decision making, rather than occasional opportunities to react to consultation papers.

The waste from our existing nuclear facilities will arise over the next century or so. So we intend, in assessing management options, to include not only materials currently classified as waste but also to consider the consequences of providing for other materials which may have to be managed as waste during the period, such as some separated plutonium, and uranium, as well as certain quantities of spent nuclear fuel.

We propose that the new body will be in place by the end of the year. Over the summer and autumn, we shall publish more detailed proposals. These will include details of the new body and its terms of reference. They will also address pressing issues such as arrangements for managing waste safely in the short-term and an announcement on waste substitution. We shall report progress on the other issues covered in the consultation, including decommissioning nuclear sites, the powers of the Environment Agencies, managing spent sealed sources of radioactivity, and waste classification.

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In the meantime we are not planning any changes to legislation or guidance on this issue.

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