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13 Feb 2003 : Column 878W—continued


Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list the (a) local authorities and (b) local drainage boards whose information about flood risks has been entered into the National Flood and Coastal Defence Database. [89638]

Margaret Beckett: No information about flood risk from local authorities or local drainage boards has yet been entered into the National Flood and Coastal Defence Database. At present priority is being given to entering Environment Agency data, information on flood risk from local authorities and drainage boards is being collected and will be input in the next phase.

Mr. Sayeed : To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much grant aid has been paid to the Environment Agency and its flood defence committees for flood defence in England in each of the past five financial years; how much will be allocated to them this financial year; and how much has been allocated under the Government's Spending Review 2002 for the next three financial years. [90816]

Mr. Morley: The Environment Agency (EA) receives the bulk of its funding for management of flood risk through levies on local authorities which are largely reimbursed by central Government through the ODPM's funding stream to local authorities. Defra provides grant aid to the flood and coastal defence operating authorities (EA, local authorities and internal drainage boards) to support their capital works and related studies in the management of risk from flooding and coastal erosion. In the case of the EA, additional contributions are made to support national initiatives such as the flood warning public awareness campaign, the national flood and coastal defence database and catchment flood management plans. Figures in cash terms for Defra grant allocated in the current and five past years are:

YearGrant (£ million)
1997–98 (actual)(2)43.0
1998–99 (actual)33.8
1999–2000 (actual)33.0
2000–2001 (actual)41.9
2001–02 (actual)61.5
2002–03 (forecast)70.0
2003–04 (forecast)(3)69.0

(2) The initial allocations for 1997–98 was increased significantly in year by redistribution of funds from elsewhere in the Department.

(3) Spending provision of £114 million for all authorities for 2003–04 proved insufficient to meet investment needs and Defra has increased this to £136 million. However, a number of unusually large local authority projects have meant the EA allocation has had to remain at much the same level as for 2002–03.

Allocations are decided annually and the EA's for 2004–05 and 2005–06 have not yet been set. However indicative figures, which will be subject to change, at £80 million and £110 million respectively.

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Forest Enterprise (England) (Grant Provision)

Diana Organ: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) whether the increase in grant to Forest Enterprise (England) has been above, below or at inflation level for the past five years; [96232]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 6 February 2003]: Prior to devolution in 1999, all Forestry Commission and Forest Enterprise financial records and accounts were maintained on a GB-wide basis. It has not, therefore, been possible to identify the relevant figures for the years 1997–98 and 1998–99. The net cash costs of Forest Enterprise (England) for the last three years, together with the forecast for the current financial year and budget for 2003–04, are given in the following table.



(4) Forecast

(5) Budget

The net cash expenditure of Forest Enterprise is funded from the Forestry Commission's annual vote and is not linked to inflation. The funding takes account of various factors such as changes in activities, steeply declining timber prices and variations in capital income and expenditure, particularly through successful bids to the Capital Modernisation Fund.

GM Crops

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the notification of (a) genetically modified oilseed rape (GT73) by the Dutch Government and (b) genetically modified maize (NK603) by the Spanish Government; and what representations she has made to those Governments and the European Commission. [94934]

Mr. Meacher [holding answer 4 February 2003]: The dossiers for these two applications were received from the European Commission on 24 January 2003 with favourable opinions from the Dutch and Spanish competent authorities respectively. Under the provisions of Directive 2001/18 on the release of GMOs to the environment, the UK has 60 days from the date of receipt in which to consider the dossiers and forward comments or reasoned objections. Both are applications for consent to import the specific GM grain

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commodities for processing and use as food and as animal feed or as an ingredient in food and in animal feed products. The dossiers will be assessed by the UK Government and the Devolved Administrations, taking advice from the relevant expert advisory committees on environmental, human and animal health aspects. In these cases advice will be needed from the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment, the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes and the Advisory Committee on Animal Feedingstuffs. We will also take due account of comments made by members of the UK public in response to public consultations that are being organised by the Commission.

Janet Hughes (Costs Claim)

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make it her policy not to enforce her Department's claim for costs against Janet Hughes of Churchstoke, Montgomery. [95340]

Margaret Beckett [holding answer 3 February 2003]: Janet Hughes was ordered by the Court to pay Defra's legal costs following an unsuccessful judicial review claim. The Department has a responsibility to protect public expenditure. The possibility of having to pay costs for unsuccessful litigation is something of which Ms Hughes should have been made fully aware by her legal advisers at the time. My Department gave her a number of opportunities to put forward payment proposals, which she has refused to do until now. I am considering the proposal she has now made.

Parrett Catchment Project

Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what jobs have been declared by the chairman of the Parrett catchment project. [95191]

Mr. Morley: As the Parrett Catchment Project is an independent body, no such declaration has to be made to the Department by the chair.

Public Service Agreement

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to her answer of 3 February 2003, Official Report, column 25W, on the public service agreement, how the savings will be measured; and if she will make a statement. [97289]

Alun Michael: Defra budgets have been fixed on the basis that target efficiency gains will be achieved. Business areas will therefore be required to identify ways of achieving the same outcomes within these budget constraints. In order to ensure these efficiency gains are captured and measured, business areas will be required to produce an efficiency plan as part of the business planning process. These plans will be monitored centrally.

Radioactive Waste

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what quality

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control programme is in place for the stocks of high activity radioactive waste in store at (a) Sellafield, (b) Dounreay, (c) Harwell and (d) nuclear power plant sites. [95263]

Mr. Wilson: I have been asked to reply.

The Quality Control arrangements in place for High Level Waste at the Sellafield Site are designed and implemented to ensure safe and reliable operations and product storage.

The Quality Management System of Thorp and the High Level Waste Plant's Vitrification Lines is independently certified to the international quality standard ISO 9002:1994. Staff involved in the management and control of high activity waste are suitably qualified and experienced. Routine staff assessment and training is performed to ensure that the appropriate level of expertise is maintained. Waste operations at Sellafield are regulated by the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII) under the Nuclear Installations Act 1965.

The storage of high-level waste liquors at Dounreay is subject to a strict monitoring and surveillance regime by UKAEA, and is also regulated by the NII under the conditions of the Nuclear Installations Act 1965.

In addition, all Dounreay operations, including the management of wastes, meet the requirements of the international quality standard ISO 9001/2000 and the

environmental management standard ISO 14001.

There are no high activity wastes at Harwell.

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