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Alistair Burt: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the adequacy of the (a) flood precautions taken by responsible authorities in Bedfordshire prior to and during the flooding between 2 and 5 January, and (b) the inquiry process following those floods; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Morley: Following the new year floods the Environment Agency have conducted numerous internal reviews concerning their flood warning and operational roles. The agency have also attended reviews held and have meetings programmed with other operating authorities to take supervisory duty matters further. The outcomes of and actions from these meetings will, where appropriate, be taken forward and used to improve the service offered during a flood event.
In terms of post event activity, the Environment Agency have had aerial photography and level survey returned, this will feed into mapping and flood defence improvements studies, as well as help review flood warning trigger levels.
The agency have also requested (and are in the process of receiving back) information from affected parish councils and professional partners (police, IDBs etc.). It is essential that local input about the locations affected is received, so that the magnitude of the flooding can be accurately reported and any local issues can be highlighted and, where appropriate, taken forward with the appropriate authorities/individuals, to reduce flood risk in the future.
Alistair Burt: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment her Department has made of the impact on river levels and flooding of the speed of run-off from the built environment. 
Mr. Morley: It has long been recognised that traditional urban development has an impact on downstream flood flows, typically reducing the time between the rainfall event and the peak flow in the river. This is, for example, incorporated in standard procedures for flood risk assessment set out in the Flood Estimation Handbook produced by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology with the support of extensive research funded by the Department. It is for this reason that PPG25 promotes the use of sustainable drainage systems for new development that aim to mitigate such impacts. The Environment Agency, as a statutory consultee to the planning authorities, is committed to ensuring that new development adopts such measures, where appropriate, to minimise impact on river levels and flood risk.
In Bedfordshire, the Environment Agency in conjunction with partner organisations is actively involved in the Milton Keynes surface water drainage strategy (River Great Ouse and tributaries, upstream of Bedfordshire). It has also been in partnership with other
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organisations (Beds and Ivel IDE) to produce the Marston Vale surface waters plan. These are examples of initiatives that aim to develop long-term strategies to address surface water run-off problems from development in the relevant areas.
Alistair Burt: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the impact of flooding in Bedfordshire from 2 to 5 January, with particular reference to the rivers (a) Great Ouse, (b) Ivel and (c) Flit; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Morley: Information is still being received and collated. Current data indicates that the number of properties that suffered internal flooding on the:
Rivers Ivel and Flit, Ickleford to Tempsford, including Shefford, is 50.
Mr. Wilshire: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many properties are at risk of flooding in Spelthorne; and what proportion are provided with a flood warning service. 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 3 February 2003]: The Environment Agency's maps show that 11,694 properties fall within the 1 per cent. probability or 1 in 100 years flood return period in the Spelthorne flood plain. These maps show the indicative floodplain area, not flood risk or definitive flood boundaries, and are based on land topography taking noaccount of the defences which are in place. The Environment Agency, with Defra funding, is creating more refined maps which will take account of likely depth of flooding and also current and planned flood defences. Pilot maps for four areas should be available soon with complete coverage planned for later in the year. To support this improved understanding of flood risk on a national basis, the EA are also developing a National Flood and Coastal Defence Database, again with funding from Defra. The aim of the project is to provide a single, easily accessible definitive store for all data on flood and coastal defences.
The Flood Warning service provides 100 per cent. coverage in Spelthorne, through Floodline, the internet and the media. At present 99 properties in Spelthorne Borough have been offered the Environment Agency's automatic voice messaging service to receive flood warnings direct to their telephones.
Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of genetically modified hybrid maize exhibiting glysophate and insect resistance (NK603 x MON 810). 
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Mr. Meacher: The assessment is in progress. The UK is the lead competent authority for this application from Monsanto under Directive 2001/18 on the release of GMOs to the environment. Monsanto has applied for consent to import into the European Community this GM maize grain for use as or in food and feed products. The application is for import only and does not cover proposed cultivation uses. The UK authorities are required to assess whether the GMO in question should be placed on the European Community market and, if so, under what conditions. If the UK authorities form the view that the application does comply with Directive 2001/18, other member states and the European Commission will then have the opportunity to comment on the assessment or raise reasoned objections as regards possible risks to the environment or human health. The assessment will be made available to the public. No decision on the placing of the product on the market can be made until other member states and the Commission have given their views.
Mr. Gardiner: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many prosecutions were made for seizures of illegal meats and bushmeat in 2002 at (a) airports and (b) seaports. 
Mr. Morley: Figures on prosecutions for the illegal importation of meat are not collected centrally. Responsibility for prosecutions under the Products of Animal Origin (Third Country Imports) (England) Regulations lies with local authorities, and under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, with HM Customs.
We are aware of one successful prosecution brought by Crawley borough council in July, and six cautions issued by the London Port Health Authority in October. All were brought under the Products of Animal Origin regulations. There were no prosecutions made in 2002 under CITES regulations.
Mr. Gardiner: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what quantity of illegal meat was seized coming into the UK at each airport and seaport in each of the last 22 months; and what percentage of each seizure was defined as bushmeat. 
Mr. Morley: The table shows details of the quantities of illegal meats seized in each of the last 22 months, and the amount of bushmeat seized as a proportion of all seizures of Products of Animal Origin. The information requested against each airport and seaport would be available only at a disproportionate cost.
|Date||Number of meat seizures||Quantity of meat seized (kg)||Quantity of bushmeat seized (kg)||Bushmeat as percentage of all seizures|
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Bushmeat is defined as the meat of any wild animal hunted for food. It is not necessarily from endangered species. There is little evidence that meat from endangered species for human consumption is entering the country on a large scale. Indeed, bushmeat forms a very small proportion of illegal imports seizedaround 2.5 per cent. Chicken or pork make up the vast majority of reported meat seizures.
Mr. Gardiner: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions her Department has had with the governments of countries from which bushmeat is illegally imported. 
Mr. Morley: Bushmeat is defined as the meat of any wild animal hunted for food. It forms only a very small proportion of illegal imports seizedaround 2.5 per cent. Chicken or pork make up the vast majority of seizures.
To date, we have made general approaches through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to the governments of other countries, to promote awareness of our import rules on meat and animal products. We are continuing to work with our posts and embassies abroad to raise awareness of our import rules at points of departure.
Although only a very small proportion of bushmeat is derived from endangered species, the issue was discussed at the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) conference in Chile last November, and the UK welcomed the conference decision to renew the mandate of the CITES Bushmeat Working Group which comprises a number of central and east African states and was set up to look at practical ways of dealing with this problem at national and regional levels.
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