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13 Feb 2003 : Column 881W—continued

Returnable Bottles

Mr. Cameron: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the effect of the use of returnable bottles on reducing the amount of domestic and commercial waste in the UK; and if she will make a statement. [94590]

Mr. Meacher: We believe there are overall environmental and commercial benefits in a deposit and return system for bottles. A deposits system would involve the public directly in waste collection and this would help to change the culture of waste collection and recycling.

We are currently investigating deposit systems used in other European countries. Some of these countries have reported very high administrative costs, which could make these schemes a more expensive way of recycling products than other collection methods. Some countries have reported benefits from such systems, particularly in terms of higher recycling rates, but sometimes these occur in the countries which have high packaging waste recycling targets and it is not clear that deposit systems on their own would deliver high recycling rates in a cost-effective way.

We would therefore need to consider both the costs and benefits of a deposit scheme. We would also have to examine how deposit systems could complement and add to other means of encouraging waste minimization and recycling, such as the packaging regulations.

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Sites of Special Scientific Interest

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress has been made by the Government since 1997 in strengthening the legislative protection afforded to sites of special scientific interest. [97135]

Mr. Morley: The legislative protection afforded to sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs) in England was significantly strengthened by Part III of the Countryside and Rights of Way (CROW) Act 2000. The Act became law on 30 January 2001. The amendments introduced include:

provisions that enable English Nature to exercise greater control over activities that may affect SSSIs by refusing, modifying or applying conditions to consents as appropriate;
a power for English Nature to secure the management of a SSSI;
improved procedures for notification and denotification of SSSIs;
various rights of appeal to owners and occupiers of land who are affected by the Act's provisions;
increased powers of entry to land for English Nature and extended powers of compulsory purchase;
increased penalties for damage to a SSSI by owners and occupiers and new offences for damage to a SSSI by other people, including public bodies;
a new power for English Nature to make byelaws to protect SSSIs;
new duties on public bodies and statutory bodies in respect of SSSIs; and,
restrictions on public bodies and statutory bodies when they carry out or authorise activities which affect a SSSI.

Sudden Oak Death

Mr. Curry: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will assess the risk of infection by the sudden oak death fungal pathogen Phytophthora ramorum in (a) quercus species and (b) fagus species. [95949]

Mr. Meacher: The Pest Risk Assessment for Phytophthora ramorum shows that various quercus species, including Quercus rubra (American red oak) and Quercus ilex (Mediterranean holly oak), have been shown to be particularly susceptible to the disease. In initial results of trials under laboratory conditions, Quercus robur (English oak) has shown less susceptibility. Fagus sylvatica (European beech) is also classed as being susceptible to the disease. This research work is continuing. I have placed a copy of the latest revision of the Summary Pest Risk Analysis, which is under continual review and includes the risk assessment, in the Library of the House.

Warm Front Grants

Tony Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much money in total has been allocated to Warm Front. [88019]

Mr. Morley: Between June 2000 and March 2002 some £270 million was spent under the Warm Front scheme. The Warm Front budget for the current year is £163 million. Defra allocations for future years are still under discussion.

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Waste Management

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what additional funding will be made available to local authorities and community organisations for sustainable waste management projects to replace project funding under the Landfill Tax Credit Scheme; when these funds will become available; and by what mechanism these funds will be distributed. [97051]

Mr. Meacher [holding answer 12 February 2003]: The Landfill Tax Credit Scheme (LTCS) transition scheme announced by my right hon. Friend the Economic Secretary to the Treasury on 3 February 2003 is now open for applications from those projects that consider they meet the criteria set out in the statement. Funding is available to meet all eligible applications. The regulator of LTCS, Entrust, will also administer this scheme and further information is available on the Entrust website at In implementing this transitional funding arrangement, the Government are putting in place a straightforward process for making decisions on funding to ensure minimum delay and uncertainty for on-going projects. Also, by establishing this transitional funding period the Government are providing a reasonable period for projects to manage the consequences of the decision announced in the Pre-Budget Report.

Decisions on the mechanisms to be used to distribute funds under the new public expenditure programmes, aimed at delivering sustainable waste management objectives, have yet to be made. An announcement on this is expected next month.

Water Framework Directive

Mrs. Helen Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to consult on the creation of formal links between river basin management planning and land use planning during the process of implementing the Water Framework Directive. [95670]

Mr. Morley: The relationship between the Water Framework Directive and the planning system was one of the issues on which respondents were invited to give their views in the recent second consultation exercise on implementation of the directive and will be discussed in Defra's water stakeholder group.

Woodland Grant Scheme

Diana Organ: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what evaluation she has made of the impact on (a) the rural economy, (b) rural employment and (c) skills retention of possible changes in the level of winter tree planting as a result of the revision of the closing dates for the Woodland Grant Scheme; [96809]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 10 February 2003]: A significant area of the land to be planted in the 2003–04 season has already been approved for grant aid, and the

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Forestry Commission is not expecting a substantial reduction in applications in 2003. In addition, planting under Challenge and other schemes is not affected by the closing dates. Overall, the Commission has assessed that the changes to the closing dates would have minimal impact on the rural economy, rural employment, skills retention and the forest nursery trade.


Air Travel Security

Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what plans he has to require airlines to ask all passengers to prove their identity; [97905]

Mr. Jamieson: The UK National Aviation Security Programme does not specifically require airlines to ask passengers to prove their identity, and while all measures are kept under review, there is no present intention that it should do so. The primary measures which underpin security in this area is that all passengers, all items of hand baggage and all items of hold baggage must be screened, and that airlines must ensure that the person who checks in hold baggage is the same person who subsequently boards the aircraft. We do not specify how airlines should achieve this, instead allowing them flexibility. On international flights where passports are carried, airlines usually use these to confirm identity. On domestic flights, and those to the Republic of Ireland where there is no need to carry a passport, airlines adopt a variety of methods to ensure that those who check hold baggage then travel with it.

Air Travel Reserve Fund

Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the financial status of the Air Travel Reserve Fund; and if he will list which types of air tickets are (a) covered and (b) not covered by the Air Travel Reserve Fund and set out the (i) nature of such cover which may be available and (ii) the number and value of tickets sold in each category in each year from 1997. [97938]

Mr. Jamieson: The Air Travel Reserve Fund was wound up in 1986 and its functions were transferred to the Air Travel Trust Fund (ATTF). The ATTF provides a back-up facility to the Air Travel Organisers' Licensing (ATOL) scheme, should a bond held by an ATOL holder be insufficient to meet customer claims in the event of that company's financial failure. Taken together, the ATOL scheme and the ATTF cover air tickets sold by an ATOL holder, either as part of a package or on a seat-only basis. Air tickets sold directly by airlines or their ticketing agents are not covered, but some purchasers may be protected when a credit card is used. In the event of failure of an ATOL holder, the Civil Aviation Authority will ensure that those abroad at the time will be able to continue their holidays and return home, and will reimburse those who have paid for their holiday but have yet to travel.

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The Air Travel Trust Fund (ATTF) has a current deficit of approximately £9 million, but is able to meet its liabilities on the basis of a Government guaranteed overdraft facility.

The number of tickets sold in each category in each year since 1997 is set out in the following table:


Total salesATOL/ATTF protected sales


1. The totals in the centre column are estimates of the number of UK-originating return journeys made by people domiciled in the UK. The totals in the right-hand column are actual journeys made under the protection of ATOL. The number of journeys is a proxy for the number of tickets sold.

2. Figures for 2002 are not yet available.

3. Data on the total value of the tickets sold in each category are not available.



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