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Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 6 March 2003

ENVIRONMENT, FOOD AND RURAL AFFAIRS

Combined Heat and Power

11. Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what action she proposes to take to encourage (a) operation and (b) development of combined heat and power plants. [101122]

Mr. Meacher: A number of new support measures for CHP were announced in the Energy White Paper, recognising the important role that CHP has to play in helping the UK tackle climate change and the difficult market conditions the industry faces. Together with the measures set out in the draft "Government's Strategy for CHP to 2010", I believe that these will set the sector on course to achieve our target of 10GWe in 2010.

Inland Flood Defence

12. Mr. Leigh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on recent progress made by (a) her Department and (b) the Environment Agency in implementing the recommendations made by the Committee of Public Accounts in its report on inland flood defence. [101123]

Mr. Morley: In their report, the Committee recognised that improvements had been made but rightly focused on areas where, in their opinion, we could do more. Many of their recommendations fall directly to the Environment Agency as the country's main provider of flood defences and because of its supervisory and flood warning responsibilities. We continue to work with them to address the Committee's recommendations.

Animal Disease

13. Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on her Department's policy on claiming money from the European Commission to tackle animal disease. [101124]

Mr. Morley: The Department's policy is to make an application on a UK basis in support of selected programmes for each year. The Commission Deadline for the submission of claims is 1 June, both for the submission of programmes for the following calendar year and for detailed claims for the past calendar year.

Beaches (Disabled Access)

16. Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions

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she has had with the Environment Agency about improving disabled access to beaches where flood defence work has taken place. [101128]

Mr. Morley: I have had no such discussions. However, I can say that the Environment Agency's Southern Region has commissioned safety consultants to undertake an R&D pilot study for the provision of disability access to EA coastal and fluvial defences.

The report, only recently completed, proposes a common methodology for surveys on future provision of disability access. This work will contribute to a better understanding and awareness of the needs of disabled people and will further work required for developing policy.

The Agency has also appointed recreation officers in all its regions and one of their roles is to champion access in the consideration of flood defence schemes.

Horse Passports

17. Mr. Cameron: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she expects to publish legislation on compulsory horse passports; and if she will make a statement. [101129]

Alun Michael: In the next few weeks I expect to issue for comment a draft of the legislation implementing the Government's decision that all equids must have passports, as required by EU legislation.

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether every country in the EU is implementing the Directive regarding horse passports; what recent discussions she has had with the European Commission on further derogation to exempt the UK from compulsory horse passports; what further consultation there will be with the UK horse industry on the implementation of the horse passport scheme; and if she will make a statement. [101253]

Alun Michael: Commission Decision 2000/68/EC, must be implemented by all member states and there have been no discussions with the European Commission about exempting the UK from its requirements.

A draft of the legislation for England implementing the requirements that all horses must have passports will be issued in the next few weeks for consultation. The draft will take account of the views expressed during the discussions with the horse industry that have already taken place.

Fishing Fleet

18. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the effect of the forthcoming expansion of the European Union on the economic viability of the United Kingdom's fishing fleet. [101130]

Mr. Morley: We do not expect the forthcoming accession of new member states to affect the economic viability of the UK fishing fleet.

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Flood Protection (Rural Areas)

20. Mr. Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the money made available to fund flood protection in rural areas in 2002–03. [101133]

Mr. Morley: Defra provides grant aid on capital flood and coastal defence projects that meet specified criteria and an appropriate priority score. Decisions regarding which projects to promote and their timing rests with operating authorities. It is therefore not possible to say how much of the funding has been directed to rural areas until after the financial year has ended. The figures will depend on the definition of "rural areas", as many schemes classified as "urban" are to protect communities within what would normally be considered as rural areas. ODPM allocate funding to support local authorities' expenditure on flood defence on the basis of their past expenditure.

Flooding

21. Mr. Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she last met the Environment Agency to discuss flooding. [101134]

Mr. Morley: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, meets with the Environment Agency regularly to discuss a range of issues. The last time she met Sir John Harman and Baroness Young to discuss flooding was on 15 January 2003. I also hold meetings with the Environment Agency and flooding is discussed regularly. Our last meeting was held on 9 December 2002 and I am due to meet with them again later today.

Broiler Chickens

Dr. Palmer: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will commission further research on the impact of intensive rearing of broiler chickens on (a) human and (b) animal health. [101118]

Mr. Morley: The Government are committed to funding research to both protect the public and welfare of farmed animals. Defra currently spends £3.5 million per annum on research into food-borne zoonoses and £1.2 million per annum on poultry welfare and disease research. The Government are committed to the continuing development of a comprehensive Animal Health and Welfare Strategy which will help to inform future research priorities.

Forestry (Africa)

Mr. Gardiner: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if her Department will raise the management of (a) forest products and (b) bushmeat at the forthcoming Africa Forest Law Enforcement and Governance Ministerial Conference in April. [101324]

Clare Short : I have been asked to reply.

My Department will raise the subjects of the international trade in forest products and bushmeat at the Africa Forest Law Enforcement and Governance Ministerial Conference in April.

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Mr. Gardiner: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which ministers and civil servants will attend the Africa Forest Law Enforcement and Governance Ministerial Conference in April. [101326]

Clare Short : I have been asked to reply.

The UK will be represented by the Under-Secretary of State, Department for International Development, her Private Secretary, DFID's Senior Forestry Adviser and a representative of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Environmental Security Team.

Overfishing (North Sea)

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what changes she is proposing to the Common Fisheries Policy to tackle overfishing of white fish in the North Sea. [101125]

Mr. Morley: The Government stands ready to consider any proposals, beyond those already agreed, which will help to bring stocks back within safe biological limits.

Rural White Paper

Mr. Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the progress her Department has made in implementing the Rural White Paper. [101126]

Alun Michael: Defra is responsible for monitoring the implementation of the Rural White Paper. Government continues to make good progress in delivering the commitments set out in the Rural White Paper. As of 31 December 2002, over 150 of these have been completed, or are in progress. Around 90 have targets for completion in the future.


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