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Rural Affairs

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many applications there have been for the (a) Community Service Fund, (b) fund to refurbish rural sub-post offices, (c) Rural Housing Enablers, (d) Rural Transport Partnership Fund, (e) Parish Transport Fund, (f) Rural Bus Challenge, (g) Leader plus Fund, (h) Extension of Redundant Buildings Grant Scheme, (i) Local Heritage Initiative, (j) fund to help rural communities prepare plans and (k) Community Rail Partnerships in rural areas since the launch of each; how many have been accepted; and what the average amount spent on each bid has been to date. [88145]

Alun Michael: The information requested will take a little time to collate. I will write to the hon. Member with the data, together with an explanation of the figures, as soon as the information is available. I will also place a copy of my letter in the House of Commons Library.

Sheep Exports

Mr. Prosser: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many live sheep were exported from Dover to continental Europe on (a) 21 November, (b) 24 November and (c) 30 November; when and where health certification was carried out in respect of the sheep; how many of the sheep were rejected as unfit for the intended journey (i) during inspection for health certification purposes and (ii) at Dover docks; and to where those sheep were taken; and what the address was of the final destination given on the route plan for each of the consignments. [87030]

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Mr. Morley: The information requested is as follows:

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DateTotal animalsWhere consignments were certified Animals rejected at certificationAnimals rejected at Dover docksDestination
21 November2,327Wales150France
24 November1,642England and Wales250France
24 November417Wales00Germany
30 November2,471England and Wales1690France

The sheep for the consignments listed above were certified within 48 hours prior to export. These consignments went to approved slaughterhouses apart from the sailing on 30 November which were fattening animals transported to holdings. The animals which were rejected at certification remained in Great Britain.

Suffolk Punch

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps she is taking to protect Suffolk Punch from extinction. [87755]

Mr. Morley: The conservation management of breeds at risk, especially those that are numerically rare such as the Suffolk Punch, is carried out by non-Governmental organisations such as the Rare Breeds Survival Trust and breed societies. There is no need for Government intervention at the present time because of the ongoing conservation plan.

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many Suffolk Punch breeding (a) herds and (b) mares there are in the United Kingdom. [87773]

Mr. Morley: The Defra maintained UK National Database of Farm Animal Genetic Resources shows that the most recent survey of the Suffolk Horse breed (known locally as the Suffolk Punch) was in 1997 when the number of mares stood at 69. It is therefore on the critical list of rare equine breeds maintained by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust who are responsible, with the Suffolk Horse Society, for managing an ongoing conservation plan using frozen semen.

Sustainable Agriculture

Mr. Lazarowicz: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will, in consultation with the Sustainable Development Commission, develop a range of indicators to assess progress towards more sustainable agriculture. [87269]

Mr. Morley: On 12 December the Government published the XStrategy for Sustainable Farming and Food: Facing the Future". This was accompanied by XFarming and Food's Contribution to Sustainable Development: Economic and Statistical Analysis" which contains a draft set of indicators for assessing the impact of the strategy. In developing a final set of indicators, Government will consult with a range of stakeholders, and this will include the Sustainable Development Commission. The documents are available in the Library of the House.

Sustainable Produce

Mr. Lazarowicz: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps she is taking to promote demand for sustainable produce. [87271]

Mr. Morley: On 12 December, the Government published XThe Strategy for Sustainable Farming and Food: Facing the Future". The strategy sets out how Government will work with the whole of the food chain to secure a sustainable future for our farming and food industries, as viable industries contributing to a better environment and healthy and prosperous communities. It includes a number of initiatives relevant to the promotion of demand for sustainable produce, including action on regional and local food: on an entry level agri-environment scheme for farmers; on organic farming; on whole farm regulation; on sustainable public procurement of food; on strengthening, with industry, farm assurance schemes; and on informing consumers and schools about the way that food is produced. The document is available in the Library of the House.

Trade Discharge Consents

Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what proportion of trade discharge consents was reviewed by the Environment Agency in each region of England in each of the last five years. [86315]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 18 December 2002]: The information requested is not held centrally. I have asked the Environment Agency to provide the information requested and I will write to my hon. Friend when it is available.

Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what budget allocation she has made to the Environment Agency in respect of reviewing trade discharge consents in each of the next three years. [86316]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 18 December 2002]: No specific budget allocation is made to the Environment Agency to review trade effluent discharge consents to controlled waters. This is one of a range of regulatory activities funded by the Agency's Discharges to Controlled Waters charging scheme.

Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the impact of technological developments on the adequacy of the Environment Agency's programme of reviews of trade discharge consent to watercourses. [86317]

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Mr. Morley [holding answer 18 December 2002]: I have made no formal assessment. As part of their brief, both the Department and the Environment Agency maintain surveillance of technological developments pertinent to effective regulation, as well as sponsoring research and development in areas of need. The information from the surveillance and research and development is in the public domain and is disseminated within the Department and Agency by a variety of methods, according to the focus and potential impact of the technological development.

Warm Front Scheme

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in relation to the Warm Front Scheme administered by Eaga partnership, how many applications have been received; how many are outstanding, awaiting (a) survey, (b) completion of works and (c) 'snagging'; how many are outstanding in total; what has been the (i) average wait for completion of work, (ii) longest wait for completion of work and (iii) longest period someone has been waiting for work yet to be done; what its (A) highest and (B) average cost has been; what criteria are used to decide what equipment should be chosen; for what reason operatives from the North East, Midlands and south coast are employed in London; and if she will make a statement. [83846]

Mr. Morley: Eaga Partnership is the Scheme Manager appointed to administer the Home Energy Efficiency Scheme—now marketed as Warm Front—in three of the four 'lot' areas of England: London and the South East; the North East and North West; and the South West and West Midlands. All answers that follow relate only to the area managed by Eaga Partnership.

In the last financial year Eaga Partnership Ltd. received over 236,000 eligible referrals. At 29 November 14,538 surveys were outstanding. In addition, 49,768 households were awaiting completion of at least one of their recommended measures.

Snagging is not a requirement of the contract with Eaga Partnership, however the Scheme does require quality installation checks on all gas central heating systems and a proportion of insulation works. If remedial work is required, following the quality inspection, the installers are contracted to undertake that work within 28 days of being contacted by Eaga Partnership Ltd.

The waiting time for completion of works can be extended by a number of factors. These include the shortage of central heating installers, awaiting landlord permission, changes to measures specified and the installation of gas to properties. The average waiting time for completion of heating work is 72 working days and for insulation 51 working days from the time of survey. The longest wait for completion of a job was 345 working days. The longest period of work currently awaiting completion is 521 working days. These delays came about through a combination of factors including the skills shortage and the development of equipment to meet the requirements of the scheme.

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The highest cost of an individual job funded by Warm Front is the current grant maximum—#1,500 for Warm Front and #2,500 for Warm Front Plus. The average grant value in 2001–02 was #454.

Warm Front is designed to tackle fuel poverty among those most vulnerable to cold-related ill health—older householders, families with children and the disabled or those with long-term illness. The range of measures offered to a property is determined by the existing standard of the property. We are currently carrying out a review of Warm Front to assess the effectiveness of the Scheme including consideration of the eligibility criteria and measures offered.

The Scheme Managers have responsibility for appointment of installers to work under the Scheme. To ensure the scheme gets good value for money, appointments are carried out through a competitive tendering process, with companies free to tender for work in any area. Additionally, a number of installation companies work nationally and so carry out work across several different areas.

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