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18 Dec 2003 : Column 1027Wcontinued
Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate her Department has made of the number of people who are exposed to nitrogen dioxide in the Heathrow area; and how many people she estimates will be exposed in (a) 2005 and (b) 2010. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Defra has not carried out an assessment of the number of people exposed to nitrogen dioxide in the Heathrow area. Assessments have been carried out on the current and future concentrations of pollutants.
Assessments of air quality impacts in the vicinity of Heathrow have been undertaken by the local authorities and by BAA plc. Having declared Air Quality Management Areas in the Heathrow area, the local authorities are developing action plans to reduce emissions. Some work has been undertaken on future predictions, for example by the London Borough of Hillingdon in relation to 2005. These assessments focus upon pollutant concentrations relative to limit values rather than exposed population.
In the context of air quality work supporting decisions to be announced in the forthcoming Aviation White Paper, the Department for Transport has run air quality emissions scenarios out as far as 2020. I understand this work will be made public following the publication the Aviation White Paper.
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Central Science Laboratory in York to be publicly available; and if she will make a statement on research progress relating to organophosphates. 
Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 4 December 2003]: The database being prepared by the Central Science Laboratory (CSL) covers the whole range research into OPs, both Government sponsored and privately funded. This database can be accessed via the CSL website (www.csl.gov.uk/ops).
Up-to-date information on the Government sponsored research into possible health effects of exposure to OP, including the findings so far, is available on the Veterinary Medicines Directorate's website (www.vmd.gov.uk). Some of this research was delayed in starting by practical problems arising from the FMD outbreak. The full results of this research are now not expected until 2006/07. These will all be peer-reviewed as a quality check before publication.
The Veterinary Products Committee, the independent, expert advisory committee on the safety of veterinary medicines, has considered all of the results available to date and has concluded that none of these justify any additional regulatory action on the current authorisations for organophosphate sheep dips.
Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment she has made of the options for the lifting of the Over Thirty Month scheme with regard to (a) biodiversity, (b) prime meat market prices, (c) the viability of the beef market, (d) the viability of British meat and meat products and (e) British meat exports and (f) Government finances. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Ministers are still considering the FSA advice on replacing the OTM Rule with testing. No direct assessment has been made on the impact of possible changes to the OTM Scheme on biodiversity although it is recognised that the marketing of slower maturing native breeds suited to environmental management would be facilitated by any changes to the Scheme.
Defra has commissioned a study co-ordinated by the MLC (involving all sectors of the meat chain) to investigate the impact on the beef market of any changes to the OTM rule and OTMS exit. It is expected that the impact of a re-introduction of OTM beef would be reduced by import substitution and that the effect on prime beef prices would be minimal once the market adjusted. However the Government are investigating with the EU Commission the possibility of introducing an underpinning temporary market support measure to insure against any disruption to the market. British meat and meat products would be expected to benefit from the increased availability of competitively priced good quality lean beef, domestically produced.
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Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what initiatives her Department is promoting to minimise unnecessary packaging and use of wrapping paper during the Christmas period. 
Mr. Morley: Minimisation of packaging needs tackling throughout the year not just at Christmas. The Advisory Committee on packaging has recently set up a new Task Force to look at the potential for further reductions in the amount of packaging used by businesses. The Committee will report its findings to Ministers early next year.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on whether printer cartridges are included in the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive. 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 15 December 2003]: The WEEE Directive applies to whole products placed onto the market and not to individual components, sub-assemblies or consumables, for example, computer memory chips and graphics cards. The Government believes that printer cartridges fall into this cadre of items and are not separately covered. The eco-design provisions of the WEEE Directive would therefore not apply to them. However, these kinds of item would be included when retained within whole products, like a printer, when these become waste and are separately collected for recovery and recycling.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate she has made of the number of (a) Christmas cards and (b) Christmas trees that were recycled in 2003; what support she provides to local authorities with regard to the recycling of Christmas cards; and if she will make a statement. 
Defra does support and take part in a Christmas Card Recycling Scheme run by the Woodland Trust that recycled 40 million Christmas cards (800 tonnes) in 2003. The charity Environ estimate that 750,000 Christmas trees were recycled during 2003 (approximately 12.5 per cent. of the total sold).
Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the likely impact of the EC proposal to recommend that set aside rates be reduced. 
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Mr. Bradshaw: The European Commission has proposed that the rate of compulsory arable set-aside be reduced from 10 per cent. to 5 per cent. for the 200405 EU marketing year. The proposal has been made in order to try to restore a more normal balance of supply in response to serious reductions in this year's cereals harvest as a result of prolonged hot weather and drought in Central and Southern Europe in the summer.
The Commission estimates that the measure will increase the supply of cereals by around 7 million tonnes. It is not clear what the impact will be in the UK. There is normally around 400,000 hectares of land in compulsory set-aside each year, with a further and more variable area being set aside voluntarily. In theory, up to 200,000 hectares of additional land could be cropped in 2004 increasing UK cereal production by 1.4 million tonnes based on average yields. In practice, however, the additional output is likely to be significantly lower than this as the proposal has been made after many farmers have finalised their cropping plans for next season.
Reducing the rate of compulsory set-aside may also have some impact on the environmental benefits which can be derived from uncultivated land, though it is difficult to assess this without knowing what land may be put back into cropping.
Mr. Bradshaw: We have already announced our intention to implement the new Single Payment Scheme in 2005, which is the earliest possible date provided for in the June CAP reform agreement. We are currently considering responses to a consultation exercise on how entitlements to payments under the scheme should be allocated.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what historical data (a) her Department and (b) other publicly-funded bodies collate on snowfall; and what the predicted future annual number of days when there is snowfall are for (i) London and (ii) Edinburgh in (A) 2010, (B) 2020, (C) 2030 and (D) 2050. 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 15 December 2003]: The Department does not collate historical data on snowfall. However, the Met Office, which is an agency of the Ministry of Defence, records daily snowfall frequency and amount at 80 stations in the UK. Most of these records go back to 1971.
In April 2002, the Department published new "Climate Change Scenarios for the UK". These scenarios include information on total winter snowfall amounts, but not number of snowfall days. The scenarios show that snowfall in the London and Edinburgh areas could be reduced by between 55 per cent. and 90 per cent. by the 2080s (compared to the 19611990 baseline), depending on the degree of future climate change. Scaling these figures back to the years in question gives
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the following estimates of the reduction in snowfall amount at both locations, depending on whether there is a low or high degree of climate change:
These figures represent general trends, not predictions of the amount of snowfall in specific years, which will be greatly influenced by natural year-to-year variability, particularly in the first few decades of the century. Further information is available in the full report in the Libraries of both Houses.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment she has made of the predicted changes in the frequency of the number of days when there is snowfall in the United Kingdom under future scenarios of climate change; and what regional variations were identified in that assessment. 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 15 December 2003]: In April 2002, the Department published new "Climate Change Scenarios for the UK". The scenarios do not contain an analysis of the changes in the number of snowfall days, but show that climate change will cause the amount of snowfall to decline significantly throughout the UK in the future. By the 2080s, large areas of the UK are likely to experience quite long sequences of snowless winters. Coastal areas and the English lowlands are likely to show the largest percentage reductions (up to 90 per cent. or more by the 2080s compared to 19611990 baseline), while the Scottish Highlands and parts of Northern Ireland may experience smaller percentage reductions (50 per cent. or less).
In addition, in July 2003 the Met Office published climate change scenarios for small islands within the British-Irish Council region. These include the Channel Islands, Isle of Man, Western Isles, Orkney Islands, and Shetland Isles.
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