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Flood Defence

Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the

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grant levels for flood defence throughout England are in (a) 2001–02, (b) 2002–03 and (c) 2003–04. [91171]

Mr. Morley: Defra provides grant aid as a percentage of eligible costs to the flood and coastal defence operating authorities—the Environment Agency (EA), local authorities and internal drainage boards—to assist with capital works and studies to manage flood risk. Grant is also made to the EA to assist towards the cost of national initiatives (such as the national flood and coastal defence database, flood warning public awareness and catchment flood management plans) and in 2001–02 exceptional funding was provided to the EA following the floods of autumn 2000 for emergency response and repair works and feasibility and design costs for accelerated river defences.

2001–02 and 2002–03

Amounts of grant in cash terms were as follows.

2001–02 2002–03
Grant rate (percentage)Grant (# million)Grant rate (percentage)Grant (# million)(8)
Environment Agency capital grant(9)42.3(9)65.0
Environment Agency national initiatives and special funding after 2000 floods n/a19.2n/a5.0
Local authorities452.2456.0
Internal drainage boards451.5452.0

(8) Current provision, subject to change.

(9) Capital grant to the EA is limited by Grant Earning Ceilings (GECs) which are set annually for each EA flood defence committee and represent the maximum amount of expenditure on which Defra will pay grant in the year to which they apply. Each committee is also set a grant rate annually at levels which are designed to provide extra support in those parts of the country where needs are higher, as compared to local resources. The following table shows EA GECs and grant rates for the two years.


2001–02 2002–03
GEC (# million)Rate (percentage)GEC (# million)Rate (percentage)
North west7.8359.145
Northumbria2.0353.745
Severn Trent10.33514.045
Yorkshire13.86522.165
Anglia, Essex2.2452.945
Anglia, Great Ouse5.3453.755
Anglia, Lincolnshire8.6757.775
Anglia, Norfolk and Suffolk5.77610.175
Anglia, Welland and Nene3.6653.665
Thames13.1354.435
Southern, Hampshire and Isle of Wight1.1451.245
Southern, Kent2.2558.565
Southern, Sussex4.6659.665
Wessex, Avon and Dorset0.4351.035
Wessex, Bristol Avon0.3350.435
Wessex, Somerset3.2655.175
South West3.4455.265

2003–04

Allocations between operating authorities (including EA GECs and grant rates) for 2003–04 are still being considered.

Flooding

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what her estimate is of how many homes flooded (a) in January and (b) in the previous three major floods. [90214]

Mr. Morley: I am advised that 645 houses were flooded during the floods over the New Year holiday. As for previous events, it depends on what the hon. Member defines as a major flood. Floods occur most winters although property flooding is generally avoided. Obviously we are all aware of the autumn 2000 event in which more than 10,000 homes were affected. In addition the 1998 flood remains in most people's memory and in that event more than 4,200 homes were flooded. Prior to that, probably the most notable was the flood event which occurred in September 1968 when large areas of the south west and southern England

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including south and south east London were flooded. We do not have detailed information on the number of properties that were flooded.

Foot and Mouth

Sir Archy Kirkwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she will pay invoices submitted to her Department by Peter Boddy Ltd. in connection with the slaughter of animals at Skipton, Thirsk and Whitby during the foot and mouth outbreak. [88501]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 7 January 2003]: Valid invoices submitted to the Department by Peter Boddy Ltd. in connection with the slaughter of animals during the foot and mouth outbreak have been paid. A legally binding full and final settlement agreement was made between the Department and Peter Boddy Ltd on 20 August, 2002.

Sir Archy Kirkwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will (a) authorise interest to be paid on the outstanding sums in the invoices rendered by Peter Boddy Ltd. and (b) make an ex-gratia payment to Peter Boddy Ltd. and his sub-contractor Mr.Houldey for the costs incurred in trying to obtain payment for her work during the foot and mouth outbreak. [88503]

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Mr. Morley [holding answer 7 January 2003]: A legally binding full and final settlement agreement was made between the Department and Peter Boddy Ltd. on 20 August 2002. No moneys are owed by the Department to Peter Boddy Ltd. and Mr. Houldey. The Department wrote to Peter Boddy Ltd. on 3 December 2002 confirming no further payments would be made and that any question of Mr. Houldey's accounts were and remain a matter between Mr. Houldey and Peter Boddy Ltd.

GM Organisms

Joan Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the separation distances are between GM and non-GM or organic oilseed rape in North America. [86975]

Mr. Meacher: The Canadian and US authorities do not require separation distances to be applied for commercial GM oilseed rape crops, but do require them for field trials. They distinguish between Brassica napus (which they call Argentine rape canola or swede rape) and Brassica rapa (which they call Polish rape canola or turnip rape). They do not differentiate separation distances based on whether the neighbouring crop is non-GM (conventional) or organic. In the UK the vast majority of the oilseed rape grown is Brassica napus, although some Brassica rapa is also grown. Cross-pollination frequency between B. napus and B. rapa is less than between plants of the same species. The separation distances in North America are as follows:

Separation distances for GM rapeseed trials in North America

Brassica napusBrassica rapa
Canada200 metres from Brassica species or a 10 metre guard row of B. napus400 metres from other B. rapa and 200 metres from other Brassica species, or a 100 metre guard row of B. rapa flowering concurrently with the GM rape
USA660 feet (201 metres) or a 30 foot (9.2 metre) border of non-GM rape flowering concurrently with the GM rape1,320 feet (403 metres) or a 30 foot (9.2 metre) border of non-GM rape flowering concurrently with the GM rape

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to her answer of 7 November 2002, Official Report, column 549W, on GM organisms, when she expects to conclude her consideration of the European Commission's proposals on thresholds for the adventitious presence of approved GM seeds in non-GM seeds. [88007]

Margaret Beckett [holding answer 19 December 2002]: Since my reply of 7 November, it has become necessary to consider the implications of the settlement reached at the November Agriculture Council for a 0.9 per cent. threshold for GM food and feed labelling and we still await sight of the European Commission's final proposals on seeds on which member states will be asked to vote.

The Government's considerations are informed by the need for policy to be based on sound science and to be practicable and enforceable. We aim to preserve consumer choice by seeking adequate protection for the integrity of non-GM seeds.

Industrial Action

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many working days have been lost in her Department and its predecessors due to industrial action in (a) 1997–98, (b) 1998–99, (c) 1999–2000, (d) 2000–01, (e) 2001–02 and (f) 2002–03. [90245]

Alun Michael: During 2001–02 16,201 days were lost owing to industrial action by members of staff in the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and its Agencies.

During 2002–03 to date 205 days were lost owing to industrial action by staff at the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) who are members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) and Prospect unions.

During 1997–98, 1998–99, 1999–2000, and 2000–01, neither the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and food and its Agencies nor the sections of ex-DETR now part of Defra and their Agencies, lost any working days through industrial action by staff.

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