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17. Dr. Naysmith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps her Department is taking to encourage families, nurseries and hospitals to switch to traditional cotton nappies. [81222]

Mr. Meacher: A growing number of councils are promoting the use of re-usable nappies. For instance, both West Sussex and Oxfordshire provide subsidies for parents who use re-usable nappies. A number of councils also take part in awareness-raising initiatives.

Grants have also been made from Defra's #140 million Waste Minimisation and Recycling Fund to councils promoting waste minimisation to their communities. A project aimed at increasing the use of re-usable nappies is among these, and a number will include nappies as part of their programmes.

Combined Heat and Power

18. Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures she proposes to maximise the potential development for combined heat and power plants. [81224]

Mr. Meacher: The Department recently consulted on a draft CHP Strategy that sets out the measures thought sufficient to achieve the CHP target of at least 10,000 mega watts of good quality CHP by 2010. The Government are currently developing an Energy White Paper that aims to set out future energy policy to and beyond 2010. This will include consideration of CHP.

Pig Industry

19. Mr. Bacon: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement about the pig industry scheme for Outgoers. [81225]

Mr. Morley: The Outgoers element of the Pig Industry Restructuring Scheme (PIRS), which was introduced as part of the Action Plan for Farming, and is now closed to applications, provided assistance of #15.6 million in 2001 to pig farmers seeking to leave the industry. Under the Ongoers element, #10.9 million was offered this year and next to producers who wished to restructure their businesses to become more viable in the long term.

Agrimonetary Compensation

21. Sir Robert Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions she has had with her European Union counterparts on a succession scheme to agrimonetary compensation. [81227]

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Alun Michael: My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State, has had no discussions with European Union counterparts on a successor scheme to agrimonetary compensation.

EC Fisheries Council Meeting

22. Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs who will head the UK delegation at the next EC Fisheries Council Meeting. [81228]

Mr. Morley: EU negotiations are a reserved matter as laid out in the terms of the devolution settlement, and Defra is the lead Department. UK negotiating positions are agreed with the involvement of devolved administrations.

Corporate Environmental Reporting

23. Sue Doughty: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps her Department has taken to encourage corporate environmental reporting. [81229]

Mr. Meacher: We have produced a series of guidelines to help companies measure and report their environmental performance, including general guidelines published last year, and more specific guidance on reporting the key impacts of greenhouse gas emissions, waste and water. The general guidelines were endorsed by the CBI and sent to approximately 3,000 of their members, and to all of the leading FTSE 350 listed companies.

We have written this year to companies in the FTSE 350, asking them what they had done to respond to the Prime Minister's challenge to report on their environmental performance. A list of the results was placed in the Library of the House in July.

We have also been working with the Department for Trade and Industry on plans for some important new reporting provisions, set out in the White Paper on Modernising Company Law, published this summer. These would require approximately 1,000 of the most economically significant companies to include information on environmental, social and community issues relevant to the company's business in a new Operating and Financial Review. We are supporting the Department of Trade and Industry in establishing an independent group of experts to help develop guidance on how directors should assess whether an item is material to their company and would therefore have to be included in its OFR. The membership of the group will be announced shortly.

Bovine TB

24. Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the Government's strategy for combating bovine TB. [81230]

Mr. Morley: Bovine TB in cattle is one of the most difficult animal health problems being faced, and the increase in its incidence is continuing to give considerable concern. The Government are keen to

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tackle the problem and have implemented a wide-ranging strategy at a cost of #35 to #40 million a year. Action is centred around a five-point strategy as follows:

The strategy is kept under review by officials. Some elements of the overarching bovine TB strategy will not produce results in the immediate future, e.g. the badger culling trial and development of a TB vaccine. We are therefore exploring and, where appropriate, implementing interim measures to help control bovine TB, while taking account of the affects of disease control measures on farmers.

A package of measures was announced in early October. This introduced:

Defra is currently considering how to manage the risk from movement of animals onto herds affected by bovine TB. An announcement will be made shortly.

Recycling (Inner London Boroughs)

25. Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what action the Government are taking to increase the level of recycling in waste by boroughs in inner London. [81231]

Mr. Meacher: The Government have set statutory performance standards under the Best Value regime so that authorities must, on average, double their 1998–99 recycling rate by 2003–04 and triple their 1998–99 rates by 2005–06.

We are providing funding to assist. Primarily, this is through additional revenue support grant, which all local authorities receive. This year the EPCS block, which includes funding for waste, will be #1.1 billion over baseline in 2000–01. In addition, we have put in place a waste minimisation and recycling fund challenge fund totalling #140 million over the two years 2002–03 and 2003–04. In London, we allocated #21 million of this challenge fund to a partnership between the Mayor of London, the Association of London Government, the GLA and London Waste Action. That partnership is allocating the funding to various recycling initiatives in London boroughs.

Illegal waste

26. Sir Sydney Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on progress in the Environment Agency's role in tackling the dumping of illegal waste. [81232]

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Mr. Meacher: The Environment Agency has purchased #120,000 worth of surveillance equipment that may be used in covert surveillance operations to identify fly-tippers attempting illegally to dump waste. This equipment has been distributed to all of the agency's regions for use in both the agency's Tyre Watch campaign to detect illegal dumping of waste tyres and to counter fly-tipping generally. The agency is working with local authorities to deploy such equipment at relevant sites and investigations made using this equipment will lead to prosecutions for those caught.

The agency is also working closely with the Fly-tipping Stakeholder's Forum representing farmers, landowners, local authorities and others with the common aim of combating fly-tipping, better to establish the scale of fly-tipping and to develop measures to detect and prevent it.

The agency investigated some 3,800 incidents in 2001–02 to ensure protection of the environment and has prosecuted a number of fly-tippers. In 2001–02, the agency won 132 successful prosecutions against fly-tippers.

Air Pollution

27. Sir Teddy Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affiars if she will make a statement on the changes in the levels of air pollution in large cities over the past five years. [81233]

Alun Michael: In general, levels of air pollution in large cities in the UK have reduced over the past five years, largely as a result of reductions in road transport emissions brought about by tighter specifications for new vehicles and fuels. The average number of days of moderate or higher air pollution at air monitoring sites in urban areas reduced from 48 days in 1996 to 21 days in 2001.

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