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Livestock Disposal

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on progress towards the setting up of the livestock disposal scheme indicating what level of interest there has been in participating; and what particular measures are being considered to include the pig and poultry industry. [144929]

Mr. Bradshaw: It is still the intention that the National Fallen Stock Scheme should begin early in the new year. It is too early to judge the likely interest in participation, but the scheme has the full backing of the farming organisations and it should save money for farmers who would otherwise have to make their own disposal arrangements. Conditions for the pig and poultry industry will need to reflect the particular requirements of the intensive sector.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on what business form the Livestock Disposal Agency will take; and what relationship exists between the Government and the National Farmers' Union. [144930]

Mr. Bradshaw: The National Fallen Stock Scheme will be run by a Company limited by guarantee, initially owned by Defra and the Devolved Administrations. Its long term structure will need further discussion with the livestock industry as the intention is to transfer ownership in due course. Both the Government and the National Farmers' Union are committed to a partnership approach to developing and running the Scheme.

Orchard Fruit Survey

Hugh Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the results were of the Orchard Fruit Survey, in hectares of fruit trees, for each of the six years to July 2003. [143919]

Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 15 December 2003]: The table shows the total tree area (including apples, pears, plums, cherries and other top fruit) of the Orchard Fruit Surveys 1998–2003.

Orchard Fruit Survey, England and Wales

Total tree area (hectares)

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Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment her Department has made of the (a) use and (b) resistance to anthelmintics in the UK; and if she will make a statement on (i) anthelmintics, (ii) flukicides and (iii) similar Pharmacy and Merchants List drugs being under veterinary dispensing control. [145222]

Mr. Bradshaw: Data on use of veterinary medicines is not normally collected, although the Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA) were involved in a survey on liver flukes and the use of flukicides in August 2002. The VLA have also conducted a number of related investigations over the past 20 years as part of MAFF and Defra funded research into resistance to anthelmintics. These have found that in the UK resistance is most commonly seen in sheep and goat nemotodes. Defra is currently funding a research project entitled "The development of computerised models for use in integrated parasite control strategies designed to optimise anthelmintic usage".

In addition, the sheep industry has been involved in producing some short-term strategies to slow the development of anthelmintic resistance in internal parasites of sheep in the UK and a leaflet on the subject is on the Defra website control.htm

In the sheep industry, anthelmintics are widely used because diseases such as parasitic gastroenteritis are economically important and avoidance of anthelmintic resistance is a high priority. The strategies aim to reduce use by means of more targeted applications, which at the same time may limit the development of resistance.

Before a marketing authorisation for a veterinary medicinal product is granted, applicants must submit data which among other requirements must demonstrate that the product is efficacious under the proposed dose regime. This is scientifically assessed and potential future resistance is considered as part of this assessment. There are currently some 300 medicinal products authorised as anthelmintics and an additional 11 which also are authorised as flukicides. Less than 60 per cent. of these are supplied under the Pharmacy and Merchants List. There is no evidence that the route of supply of individual products has any effect on resistance.


Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what (a) minutes or other records were taken and (b) decisions were made at the Pesticide Safety Directorate stakeholder meetings on (i) 13 October and (ii) 24 October. [146089]

Alun Michael: Meetings were arranged with key stakeholders to discuss the issues raised by the informal consultation exercise on public access to information on pesticide use.

Attendees were invited to give their views and suggestions concerning the type of system that might be introduced to notify residents of forthcoming spray activities (including the form any notification would take and the period before use when notification should

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be given). They were also asked how access might be provided to those wishing to see records of past spray activities.

Notes were taken of the views of attendees and the practical suggestions they made. These are being considered, alongside the written submissions made in response to the informal consultation.

Plant Imports

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether she will seek (a) sanctions against and (b) compensation from (i) the Netherlands and (ii) other nations found to have failed adequately to check the infectivity of plants exported to the UK for commercial sale. [143664]

Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 11 December 2003]: A Defra plant health official and an industry nominee recently made a visit to the Netherlands, at the invitation of the Dutch plant health authorities, to see how new EC measures against "Phytophthora ramorum" were being implemented. The visit has been the subject of misleading reports in the press. Boskoop, the main venue for sale of nursery stock in the Netherlands, was found to be fully compliant. At Aalsmeer, which is primarily a flower market, some consignments of plants were losing their plant passports when they were split up and sold on; a shortcoming which the Dutch plant heath authorities have agreed to address. Our surveillance of plants moving in trade, including those from the Netherlands, is being stepped up and plants found not to comply will continue to be destroyed.

Collaboration between Forestry Commission scientists and their Dutch and German counterparts helped in 2001 to establish the link between dying trees in California and a new but minor disease on rhododendrons in Europe.

We do not know how or where the pathogen arrived in Europe. Of the 330 UK findings, 70 per cent. have been on plants originating within this country, rather than imports. I do not believe it is appropriate at this stage to seek sanctions or compensation from the other countries with whom we are working to deal with this threat to European trees. The first recourse for someone who has received infected plants should be their supplier.

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what action her Department will take to protect (a) garden centres and (b) growers from imported plants infected with the tree fungus Phytophthora ramorum. [143667]

Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 11 December 2003]: Measures are already in place to help prevent garden centres and growers from importing plant material susceptible to the pathogen Phytophthora ramorum. These included, banning the import of host plants from affected areas of the USA and extending current controls on imported oak wood to include wood that comes from host trees in affected areas in the USA. All other susceptible plant material imported into the UK from third countries must be accompanied by a

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phytosanitary certificate. For trade within the EC, all consignments of rhododendron and viburnum must be accompanied by a plant passport.

The European Community's Standing Committee on Plant Health recently reviewed these measures and agreed that they should continue. Commission officials are now working on a draft to strengthen the current Decision. In addition, the UK will be stepping up its inspection of plant material entering the UK to ensure it complies with import arrangements. Any consignment entering the UK that is found not to possess the required documentation is destroyed.

River Trent

Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the progress of the fluvial strategy for the River Trent. [145207]

Mr. Morley: I understand from the Environment Agency that they expect to consult on a draft of the River Trent Strategy in early spring 2004, and that they have provided you directly with a detailed progress report.

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