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Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of whether badgers are capable of accessing mineral and feed troughs positioned at heights in excess of those advised by the Department; and what height that evidence indicates badgers are capable of accessing. [141503]

Mr. Bradshaw: Recent work carried out by the Central Science Laboratory has established that badgers are capable of climbing into feed troughs set at 115cm above ground level, at which height they are inaccessible to cattle.

Dead Animals

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the effect of the provisions in the Hunting Bill of Session 2002–03 on disposal by farmers of dead animals. [143554]

Alun Michael: The Animal By-Products Regulations 2003 permit hunt kennels to continue collecting fallen stock; however, they will be required to upgrade to knackers' yard standards if they wish to collect fallen stock for the purposes of feeding to hounds. The effect of a ban on hunting would depend on decisions made by those who currently offer a service and on choices made by farmers leading to take-up of the National Fallen Stock Scheme which the Government hope will be up and running early in 2004. Most hunts already make a charge and there is no reason why such a service should not continue as a business opportunity irrespective of the future of hunting.

Regional Producers (Wiltshire) Ltd.

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much public money has been paid to Regional Producers (Wiltshire) Ltd; and who the payees were. [143597]

Alun Michael: Regional Producers (Wiltshire) Ltd. have received grants worth £57,784 from public sector bodies. This comprised £20,000 from Business Link for Berkshire and Wiltshire from the South West Foot and

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Mouth Recovery Fund which they administered on behalf of the South West Regional Development Agency, and the balance from Great Western Enterprise, which is also funded by the South West Regional Development Agency.

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many farmers were participants in Regional Producers (Wiltshire) Ltd.; and if she will make a statement. [143599]

Alun Michael: The conditions for providing public funding for Regional Producers (Wiltshire) Ltd. required them to secure a minimum of 25 shareholder members and this was achieved.

Regional Waste Plans

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when the Regional Waste Plan for the South West is expected to be published; and what proposals it will make with regard to the designation of sub-regional zones. [142274]

Keith Hill: I have been asked to reply.

The Regional Waste Strategy for the South West region is being developed by the South West Regional Assembly. Currently it is planned to commence consultation on the strategy in early February 2004 with a view to publishing the completed strategy by July 2004.

The strategy is still under development and will be using data based on former county areas of the South West as these are currently the best available. These data will be used to develop sub regional indicative capacity allocations based on the former county areas.

Tropical Plywood

Mr. Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much tropical plywood was imported by each EU member state in the last year for which figures are available. [143222]

John Healey: Imports to the UK are given in "Overseas Trade Statistics", a copy of which is available in the Library of the House. Figures on trade between other countries are not available.

Wind Turbines

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the impact on wildlife of wind turbines. [142042]

Mr. Timms: I have been asked to reply.

Studies of the impact of wind farms on wildlife, in particular birds, suggests that there is only a small risk of bird strikes from the operation of properly sited wind turbines. In addition, under the normal planning regime and for consent under section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989 regime or the Transport and Works Act 1992, wind farm developers are required to consider all environmental aspects of wind energy projects and produce an Environmental Impact Assessment. These assessments are available to the public.

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Public Services (Ethnicity)

Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the effect of a person's ethnicity on their access to public services. [143574]

Fiona Mactaggart: The Government publishes an annual edition of Race Equality in Public Services which brings together key performance management data from across the range of Government Departments. The indicators used consist of three main parts:

The fourth annual publication will be published early in 2004.

Animal Experiments

Mr. Beggs: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many experiments on animals were carried out in UK laboratories in 2002–03; what action he is taking to encourage alternative methods of experimentation; and if he will make a statement. [143178]

Caroline Flint: For the year 2002, the most recent year for which complete annual statistics are available and published, 2,752,278 scientific procedures were carried out on animals in the UK. Mice, rats and other rodents, along with fish and birds, were used in some 96 per cent. of the total.

The use of animals in regulated procedures is prohibited by the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 in cases where a scientifically valid non-animal alternative is available. The Act also requires that, where replacement of animals is not possible, the number used in any licensed project must be reduced to the minimum, and the procedures must be refined to ensure that no unnecessary suffering is caused. This approach—of replacing, reducing and refining—is known as application of the 3Rs.

Most work on the 3Rs is neither done by Government nor with Government money, as industry spends many millions of pounds each year on the search for and development of alternatives. Nonetheless, every year the Home Office makes available to the Animal Procedures Committee a budget for research aimed at developing or promoting the use of the 3Rs. Details of completed research projects are published in the annual report of the Animal Procedures Committee, which is available from The Stationery Office. The amount made available to the Committee for 2003–04 for this specific purpose is £280,000.

This is not the only money spent by the Government on the development of the 3Rs, as other Departments and public funding bodies are also active in this area.

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Indeed, it is estimated that the total spent across Government is in the region of £2 million to £10 million each year.

To take this further on an international level, we continue to support the European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods (ECVAM) through contributions to the European Union, and last year we co-sponsored the 4th World Congress on Alternatives and Animal Use in the Life Sciences.

The Government support and encourage the development and promotion of the 3Rs in a number of other ways. For example, we are currently exploring the recommendation by the House of Lords Select Committee on Animals in Scientific Procedures, which reported in July 2002, that there should be a United Kingdom centre for research into the 3Rs. This is being considered by the Inter-Departmental Group on the 3Rs, led by the Home Office.

The Inter-Departmental Group is also reviewing the effectiveness of the Inter-Departmental Data Sharing Concordat announced in August 2000, which commits United Kingdom regulatory authorities to help resolve legal and other obstacles to data sharing between clients, in order to reduce animal testing.

In the longer term, we believe that further significant reduction in animal use will, and must, continue to rely largely on the scientific community's own efforts to develop, validate and adopt more advanced methods based on the 3Rs. This is not an area where quick gains can be expected, but any lack of progress in research into alternatives is more often due to the limitations of science, rather than to inadequate funding.


Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he intends to respond to the letter of 23 July, from the hon. Member for Moray, with Home Office acknowledgement reference number PO11706/3; and if he will make a statement. [142026]

Beverley Hughes: I am sorry for the delay in replying to the hon. Member's letter of 23 July 2003.

Regrettably, this matter was originally submitted to the wrong unit who did not follow the matter up.

We are in the process of appointing an independent appraiser to review Mr. Christie's case. I have instructed IND officials to have the report completed by Christmas and I will then be in a position to write to the hon. Member.

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