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9 Dec 2003 : Column 377Wcontinued
Mr. Nicholas Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress has been made in discussions between her Department and the Port of Tyne Authority concerning the dredging of the River Tyne and the disposal at sea of contaminated sediment; and what the present position is regarding the dredging and disposal. 
Mr. Morley: The Port of Tyne Authority (PoT) applied for a licence in February 2003 to dispose of 315,123 cubic metres of sediment dredged from wharves within the port to the Souter Point disposal ground. Some sediments are contaminated with Tributyl-tin and heavy metals.
Defra and its advisers from the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquatic Science (CEFAS) have met the PoT on a number of occasions to discuss potential disposal options. I met representatives of the port authority on 3 December.
On the basis of the currently available information, the levels of contamination are such that we would not be prepared to licence simple disposal of the sediments at sea. I also appreciate that land based disposal or remediation would be prohibitively expensive.
(ii) with assistance from CEFAS, the PoT should prepare a methodology for confined disposal (capping of the contaminated material with clear material) at Souter Point including a strategy for monitoring the effectiveness of this approach.
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Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the new structures for (a) flood defences and (b) flood protection are; and what assessment she has made of efficiency savings in terms of (i) costs and (ii) manpower resulting from the introduction of new structures. 
Mr. Morley: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced the conclusions of the flood and coastal defence funding review on 12 March 2003. These include the transfer of responsibility for rivers creating the greatest flood risk to the Environment Agency; funding the Environment Agency through a single stream of Defra grand in aid; and introducing a single tier of flood defence committee by abolishing the local tier where it exists but creating additional regional committees where this is considered appropriate.
These measures are not designed primarily to secure cost or manpower savings. Rather they are designed to help achieve a more assured, streamline, effective and accountable service of flood defence and flood protection, that achieves a better reduction in flood risk nationally for the investment made.
Defra is however working with the Environment Agency on process improvement which will take account of the changes referred to above, further rationalise scheme appraisal and approval processes and reduce the proportion of overheads in scheme costs.
Mr. Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the total cost to landowners of clearing their land of waste that has been fly-tipped was in each of the last five years; how many convictions for fly-tipping have been secured by the Environment Agency; and what the total amount of fines paid arising from these convictions was. 
The Environment Agency has kept separate data on fly-tipping prosecutions since the beginning of calendar year 2002. Before the time, fly-tipping was not distinguished on their database from other Environmental Protection Act (1990) s.3 and 34 offences.
Number of prosecutions252
2003 (to end of October)
Number of prosecutions210
Grand Totals (1 January 20 0231 October 2003)
Number of prosecutions462
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Mr. Meacher: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) on what basis the herbicide regime for use on GM maize was chosen for the farm-scale trials; what role Aventis (now Bayer) had in its choice; what international research was conducted to establish whether this was a commercially realistic regime to control weeds; and what research she has conducted on whether farmers in other countries use more aggressive herbicide mixes; 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 8 December 2003]: The herbicide regime used by farmers growing GM maize in the farm-scale trials was proposed by the product manufacturer, AgrEvo (now Bayer Crop Science). The way farmers could then use the product was further specified under the terms of the draft product label in line with the experimental approval. The draft product label gave farmers the freedom to apply more than one application of the herbicide if they required, providing it was within the specified crop growth stage limits.
The experimental approval assumed use of the herbicide under UK conditions. No research was conducted on the method of use of this or any other herbicides in other countries as this was not considered necessary.
The Scientific Steering Committee overseeing the farm-scale evaluations (FSEs) were content from the outset that the proposals for the use of the pesticide provided by the manufacturers and specified in the draft product label were capable of delivering cost-effective weed control under UK conditions. A full audit of herbicide use was conducted as part of the FSEs and published as part of the results (Champion et al. 2003). This paper also gives details of the number of GM maize fields that received more than one application of herbicide. In the published results it was concluded that cost-effective weed control had been achieved. This conclusion was endorsed by the steering committee and was further validated by the publishing journal through their peer-review process.
Mr. Meacher: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the Royal Society was asked to check the methodology of the farm-scale evaluation research, with particular regard to the selection of the herbicide regimes. 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 8 December 2003]: The Royal Society was not asked to check the methodology of the farm-scale evaluations. The independent scientific steering committee was established for this purpose, and the committee endorsed both the methodology generally and the herbicide regimes in particular. The work was again independently validated by the publishing journal, The Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society (Biological Sciences) that operates independently of the Royal Society through its peer review process.
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Mr. Meacher: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) if she will set up a review of the performance of the Central Office for Information in the GM public debate to investigate whether there has been mismanagement or incompetence; 
Mr. Morley: The debate was acknowledged as an innovative process and a learning experience for all involved. We are currently working with the independent Steering Board and COI to consider what lessons can be learned from the GM Public Debate process. We will publish our conclusions in due course.
Sue Doughty: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what work was undertaken on preparation for the Hazardous Waste Directive in the Department for the Environment, Transport and the Regions; 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 8 December 2003]: The European Commission approved the Hazardous Waste Directive in December 1991. In common with the negotiation of other European Directives, the Government took an active part in proceedings, but there is no detailed record of the amount of work spent on preparation for this particular Directive by the then Department of the Environment.
The implementation date for the Directive as 27 June 1995 which was set out in an amendment to the Directive approved by the European Commission on 27 June 1994. The Department would have been aware of the Directive's requirements as it was negotiated.
Sue Doughty: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many staff who worked on the EU Hazardous Waste Directive in the Department for the Environment, Transport and the Regions transferred to her Department to continue this work. 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 8 December 2003]: The European Commission approved the Hazardous Waste Directive in December 1991. Its requirements are currently transposed in England by the Special Waste Regulations 1996, but these are to be replaced by new regulations for hazardous waste in 2004. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) was established in June 2001 and all staff that had worked on hazardous waste policy issues in the Department for Environment, Transport and the Regions transferred to Defra to continue this work. The Hazardous Waste Branch of Waste Management Division takes the lad on these issues as well as policy work on the transfrontier shipment of waste and consists of eight staff.
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