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Dr. Whitehead: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to her Answer of 14 January 2004, Official Report, column 732W, on domestic waste, in which month the Government will consider the results of that work. 
Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of (a) domestic, (b) commercial and (c) industrial refuse was recycled in each of the last three years. 
Preliminary indications from the Best Value Performance Indicator returns for 200203 suggest a composting and recycling rate for England of 14.9 per cent., however this figure has still to be audited.
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The most recent figures for commercial waste and industrial waste in England are found in the Strategic Waste Management Assessment 2000, published by the Environment Agency, covering 199899. The survey collected data from a sample of 20,000 businesses across England and Wales.
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what subsidies are available for (a) the incineration of waste, (b) the recycling of waste and (c) other waste disposal options; at what rate per tonne those subsidies are paid; and what assessment she has made of the impact of each of the subsidies available on waste disposal options in England. 
Mr. Morley: There are no direct subsidies available for waste disposal in the UK. However, in England the Government provide financial assistance to promote sustainable waste management in a number of ways.
Examples include the Waste Implementation Programme and its components. This sustainable waste delivery programme aims to deliver a package of strategic measures recommended by the Strategy Unit report on waste, helping to move waste management up the waste hierarchy. The Waste Minimisation and Recycling Fund provides assistance to local authorities to improve their infrastructure and collection systems for waste, in particular promoting recycling. Additional funding is provided through Waste PFI, for local authorities looking to work in partnership with the private sector to fund long-term waste solutions. £355 million has been provided over the SR2002 period.
There is also a Government funded Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) which is designed to create stable and efficient markets for recycled materials and products, and remove the barriers to waste minimisation, re-use and recycling.
Mr. Morley: Recycling has three direct benefits for the environment. By drawing recycled materials back into the production process fewer raw materials have to be extracted to produce the same amount of new products. This helps conserve natural resources and reduces the damage to the environment from resource extraction, for example mining or quarrying.
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Recycling, which requires greater awareness of and direct involvement in waste issues by the public, will have the indirect benefit of encouraging greater public involvement and responsibility for their environment.
Mr. Morley: Incineration with controls on emissions is an important part of the Government's strategy on waste management. It is the only suitable way to protect the environment from certain biological pathogens and is the most effective way to render some hazardous chemical wastes safe.
While re-using, recycling or composting waste can represent a better use of resources, incineration offers an opportunity to extract energy from the waste and is therefore preferable to disposal. This, in turn can reduce extraction and transportation of fuels that would otherwise be used to create energy. By diverting biodegradable waste from landfill, incineration also helps to reduce the production of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.
Mr. Morley: All waste disposal options have environmental impacts. Landfill has potentially adverse effects on air and water quality in addition to the local environmental impacts of noise and smell. The most important environmental impact reported in scientific research is the effect on global warming of emissions of greenhouse gases from the landfill of biodegradable waste. Methane (a greenhouse gas 20 times more powerful than carbon dioxide) is generated at all landfill sites accepting biodegradable waste. The contribution of methane emitted from landfills to global warming contributes some 25 per cent. of methane emissions in the UK .
Well operated and regulated landfills nevertheless have a role to play in waste disposal both now and in the future. The EU Landfill Directive (as implemented in England and Wales by the Landfill (England and Wales) Regulations 2002)) sets new standards for the management and engineering of landfill sites to reduce as far as possible the negative environmental impacts and any potential health risk. The Government are committed to reducing the UK's reliance on landfill, which, as well as its negative environmental impacts, makes little practical use of waste and is a missed opportunity to recover value from waste. For these reasons, Waste Strategy 2000 sets out a range of policies to promote the reduction, re-use, recycling and recovery of waste in order to divert it from landfill.
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Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many tonnes of waste have been disposed of in England by (a) landfill, (b) incineration and (c) recycling in each of the last five years. 
Mr. Morley: According to the most recent Municipal Waste Management Survey, about 28.8 million tonnes of municipal waste were collected in 200102. Of this, about 22.3 million tonnes were disposed of to landfill, 2.5 million tonnes were incinerated, and 3.9 million tonnes were recycled. The remaining municipal waste was dealt with using other management methods.
The latest figures on industrial and commercial waste come from the last Environment Agency survey on commercial and industrial waste conducted in 199899, and a survey on construction and demolition waste in England in the same year. It is estimated that in 199899 51.2 million tonnes of industrial and commercial waste (including construction and demolition waste) were landfilled, 49.2 million tonnes were recycled and 1.3 million tonnes were incinerated. The Environment Agency is conducting another survey on commercial and industrial waste this year.
Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what assessment she has made of the impact of a £5 billion reduction in water company investment in environmental improvements on the United Kingdom's ability to meet its legal obligations to nature conservation sites; and if she will make a statement; 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 2 February 2004]: The Government are committed to the maintenance or restoration of internationally and nationally important nature conservation sites, including Natura 2000, Ramsar and Sites of Special Scientific Interest. An assessment of water company programmes' effects on these areas, already under way, will be kept under review.
The Government published guidance on the contribution expected from water company investment to meeting the United Kingdom's legal obligations in the Secretary of State's Initial Guidance on the Periodic Review in January 2003. The Secretary of State's Principal Guidance on the Periodic Review, which will be published shortly.
The Secretary of State received formal written advice on the environment programme for the Periodic Review 2004 from the Environment Agency in November 2003. Both the Secretary of State and I have also had meetings and correspondence with the Environment Agency and English Nature to discuss the proposed environment programme.
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