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11 Jun 2003 : Column 878W—continued

Illegal Fishing

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many (a) sightings, (b) arrests and (c) prosecutions for illegal fishing by vessels from non-EU countries within British territorial limits as defined by the Fishery Limits Act 1976 have taken place since the Act came into force. [118057]

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Mr. Morley: Information is only readily available from the Fisheries Departments in the United Kingdom on the number of non-EU fishing vessels, including klondykers, prosecuted since 1982 and on sightings in British Fishery Limits since 1991. The sightings would include vessels transiting as well as fishing legally within British Fishery Limits. The total number of prosecutions between 1981 and 2002 was 73 and the sightings between 1991 and 2002 were 19,297. Some of the prosecutions and sightings involve vessels from nations that have since joined the European Union.

Genetically Modified Crops

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the cost to the Government of the GM trials taking place in England and Wales is. [113353]

Mr. Meacher: Four companies and two research institutes currently have consent to undertake GM trials in England. The costs of these trials are borne by the organisations involved. The costs to Government of consideration of the applications, granting and enforcing the consents are recovered through statutory fees and charges. GM trials in Wales and Scotland are the responsibilities of their devolved administrations.

Over the course of the farm scale evaluations of GM herbicide tolerant crops the Government has funded the ecological studies themselves, with all other costs borne by the companies involved. The cost to Government this year, for the last stage of the studies on winter oilseed rape is 258,896, out of a total cost to Government of £5.9 million over four years for all the four crops evaluated.

Hotel Accommodation

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list the amount spent by (a) her Department, (b) its agencies and (c) its non-departmental public bodies on hotel accommodation (i) in the UK and (ii) abroad for (A) Ministers, (B) staff and (C) others; and if he will list the average cost per hotel room, in each year since 1997. [117567]

Alun Michael: For the Department's civil servants, the detailed information requested is not held centrally, and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. However, the total currently budgeted by the Department for this year for travel and subsistence is £16.7 million.

All travel by civil servants is conducted in accordance with the requirements of the Civil Service Management Code.

For Ministers, the Government publish an annual report of Ministerial travel overseas. The total cost of ministerial travel provided in the annual report includes the cost of accommodation. The information sought in respect of accommodation within the UK is not held centrally. All travel is conducted in line with the requirements of the Ministerial Code.

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Ingram Works, Leeds

Mr. Battle: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the Environment Agency's agreed amount of tonnage per year is for waste processed under the site management licence at the waste disposal and landfill site operated by Harry Sanders Ltd. at Ingram Works in Leeds. [116327]

Mr. Meacher: There are three operations at this site. The waste transfer station on this site is currently permitted to receive up to 5,000 tonnes of waste in a year. However, an application for the modification of the licence is currently under consideration. The effect of this licence modification would be to increase the maximum annual input of waste to 100,000 tonnes.

The landfill on this site is Waste Management Licence 113, as issued to Mr. P. H. Sanders, and the maximum annual quantity of waste that may be accepted at the site is 10,000 tonnes. There is also a registered exempt site where there is no maximum annual input imposed under waste management regulations.

Invasive Weeds

Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to use (a) promotion and (b) education to heighten awareness of the non-native invasive weeds identified by the Non-native Species Review Group; and if she will make a statement. [117805]

Mr. Morley: The working group of the Review of Non-native Species Policy recommended that Government should develop a targeted education and awareness strategy involving all relevant sectors. My Department is developing, in liaison with the Devolved Administrations, the Government response to the report and it is intended to undertake a public consultation later this year.

Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what environmental assessment has been undertaken to measure the impact of non-native invasive weeds on the countryside; and if she will make a statement. [117806]

Mr. Morley: An overall assessment of the impact of non-native species was undertaken in the Review of Non-Native Species Policy, which included case studies on Japanese knotweed and New Zealand pigmyweed (also known as Australian swamp stonecrop).

More detailed, site-specific environmental assessments have also been undertaken by English Nature and the Environment Agency. English Nature commission work on a fairly regular basis, that includes assessments of invasive non-natives species, often as part of a wider programme of investigations. For example, as part of its Lakes Restoration Project, English Nature has undertaken an environmental appraisal of the impact of New Zealand pigmyweed at a site in Shropshire, which threatens a native plant, floating water plantain. The presence of invasive non-native aquatic plants is one of the causes for unfavourable condition of a number of freshwater Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). This appraisal included an assessment of control options and a programme of control is planned for later this year at three SSSI lakes. A monitoring programme to determine

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the efficacy of different control techniques and the recovery of native plant species will accompany the control.

The Environment Agency has assessed river habitats using a standard assessment that includes the recording of three non-native species: Japanese knotweed, giant hogweed and Himalayan Balsam.

Laying Hens

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to her answer of 22 May 2003, Official Report, column 893W, on laying hens, whether all Defra-funded research into enriched cages conforms to the EU minimum height of 45cm. [117664]

Mr. Morley: One of the objectives of this research is to evaluate the effect of cage height on bird behaviour, welfare and performance in commercially available furnished cages. The research looks at the effects of cage height on birds kept in furnished cages—with heights set at 38cm and 45cm. This research will help in informing our position on the welfare benefits of furnished or enriched cages.

Management Consultants

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list the contracts her Department has with management consultants, and the value of each contract in 2002–03. [117339]

Alun Michael: The information requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Underground Storage Tanks

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations she has received and proposals she has to provide funding for (a) enforcing and overseeing corrective action at leaking underground storage tank sites and (b) clean-ups (i) where the owner or operator is unknown, or is unwilling or unable to respond and (ii) which require emergency action. [117483]

Mr. Morley: I am not aware of representations as such, although this issue was raised by the hon. Member for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy (Mr. Llwyd) in an adjournment debate on underground storage tanks on 7 January 2003, Official Report, columns 54–61WH.

In England and Wales there is a duty under Section 73 of the Public Health Act 1973 for site occupiers to prevent danger, as far as is reasonably necessary, from tanks which have been used to store petroleum spirit. This legislation is enforced by the local Petroleum Licensing Authority (PLA). Where the site occupier cannot be contacted or is unknown, and there is a serious concern for public safety, the PLA can use powers under Section 290 (6) of the Public Health Act 1936 to execute the works at the local authority's expense. The local authority can then seek to recover these costs either through the civil courts or by registering a charge under the Land Registration Act 1988.

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Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act can be used by local authorities to deal with significant harm or water pollution arising from land contamination, and capital support is available for eligible projects. The Environment Agency also has a range of environmental protection responsibilities and powers, and provision is made in its funding for emergency situations at USTs, and where owners and occupiers are unknown, although it would not be possible to disaggregate these functions.


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