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19 May 2004 : Column 980W—continued

Over-30 Month Scheme

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she will make an announcement on the ending of the over-30 month scheme. [172457]

Mr. Bradshaw: The ending of the over-30 month (OTM) scheme is linked to a change to the OTM rule. The Food Standards Agency has recommended to Ministers that the OTM rule could be replaced with a system of testing OTM animals for the food chain. UK Health Ministers are currently considering the agency's advice. Rural Affairs Ministers have decided that, for practical reasons, animals born before August 1996 will not be allowed back into the food chain.

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions she has had with (a) her colleagues in the Department of Health and (b) the Food Standards Agency on the future of the over-30 month scheme. [172458]

Mr. Bradshaw: The Food Standards Agency (FSA) recommended to Health Ministers in July 2003 that the over-30 month (OTM) rule could be replaced with a system of testing. Defra Ministers and officials have been in regular contact with colleagues in both the Department of Health and the Food Standards Agency on issues arising from that recommendation.

Pedestrian Crossings (Railways)

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what guidance she gives to local authorities on re-routing public rights of way in order to make pedestrian crossings at rail lines safer. [173084]

Alun Michael: Guidance on rail crossing orders affecting rights of way is provided in paragraph 32 and Annex C of Department of the Environment Circular 2/1993.

Sewage Sludge

Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for what reasons sludge sewage has been exempted from requiring a waste management licence for treatment in agriculture; and what research has been undertaken to assess the potential health risks posed by sewage sludge seeping into water supplies. [173428]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 18 May 2004]: Article 2 of the Waste Framework Directive exempts sewage sludge from waste management licensing requirements if it is used in accordance with the separate Directive on use of sludge in agriculture. This Directive, which is implemented by the Sludge (Use in Agriculture) Regulations 1989, as amended, requires sludge to be used in such a way that the quality of the surface and ground water is not impaired. In addition, there are statutory requirements to ensure that only treated water may enter the public drinking water supply, to comply with European and national standards.
 
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Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research has been undertaken to assess the potential risks to health posed by the spreading of sewage sludge on agricultural fields situated close to residential homes. [173429]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 18 May 2004]: A study carried out in the USA has examined the evidence for Staphylococcus aureus (SA) in sewage sludge applied to land and whether a route existed by which populations living in proximity to sludge spreading could be infected. The result of this work was that no SA were detected in any background aerosol or sludge aerosol sample.

Proposals to amend the Sludge (Use in Agriculture) Regulations 1989, as amended, will further strengthen the controls applying to the recycling of sewage sludge in England and Wales by making statutory the water industry's voluntary ban on the use of untreated sewage sludge on agricultural land.

Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps have been taken to amend the Sludge (Use in Agriculture) Regulations 1989 to incorporate a safe barrier between agricultural fields treated with sewage sludge and residential homes; and if she will make a statement. [173432]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 18 May 2004]: The Sludge (Use in Agriculture) Regulations 1989, as amended, ensure that recycling sludge to agricultural land is carried out in a way that protects human and animal health and the environment. Proposed revisions to the regulations will introduce additional requirements to protect further against the entry of pathogens into the food chain. These requirements are already being followed on a voluntary basis by the water industry.

The non-statutory Code of Practice for Agriculture Use of Sewage Sludge, which is also under revision, includes recommendations on environmental protection relating to odour control and proximity to properties.

Single Farm Payments

Mr. Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the impact of the single farm payment scheme on farmers in (a) Loughborough and (b) Leicestershire. [174050]

Alun Michael: Farmers in Loughborough and Leicestershire, like all others, will benefit from decoupling of subsidies from production.

Defra will publish shortly an analysis of the economic impact on the English farming industry of the decoupling of CAP direct payment and the way in which the scheme will be operated in England.

Sudden Oak Death

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many instances of sudden oak death have been detected in the South East of England; and at what locations. [174193]


 
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Mr. Bradshaw: The following table outlines the total number of instances of phytophthora ramorum in the South East of England since the first finding in April 2002.
Region/countyTotalRetail and nurseriesEstablished gardens, woods and other wild planting areas
Berkshire44
Buckinghamshire66
East Sussex1010
Hampshire18153
Isle of Wight22
Kent99
London1010
Oxfordshire22
Surrey32311
West Sussex33267

Sugar

Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she will make a statement on the consultation carried out by her Department on reform of the sugar regime. [173487]

Alun Michael: We are still considering the wide range of views received and hope to produce a summary soon.

In the meantime the responses themselves are available for public inspection in the Defra library.

Swill Feeding

Mr. Boris Johnson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of the replies received by the Department by (a) 26 April 2001 and (b) 1 May 2001 in response to the consultation document that preceded the ban on swill feeding (a) were against the ban, (b) were in favour of the ban and (c) expressed no preference. [166754]

Mr. Bradshaw: The answer I gave the hon. Member on 30 March, Official Report, column 1305W, on swill feeding incorrectly stated that we had received 357 responses. The correct number is 330. The previous response included some duplicated responses. As a result the percentage of responses supporting a ban was also incorrect in the answer of 30 March for which I apologise.

The date of receipt of the responses (other than those by e-mail) is not recorded. It is not possible therefore to give the figures with the degree of accuracy that you seek. I have, however, had the responses reviewed and recounted. Respondents replied to a consultation document that asked a series of questions. The questions were:


 
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Some respondents tailored their responses to five options set out in the Regulatory Impact Assessment. Those were:

In view of the detailed questions asked by the consultation document it is not surprising that the replies were often equally diverse and detailed. But the responses have been re-read as objectively as possible to place them in the categories you seek.

There were 303 responses dated by the sender on or before 26 April.

Those against the ban on the swill feeding of catering waste that contains animal by-products totalled 77 (26 per cent.).

Those that were in favour of a ban on swill feeding of catering waste that contains meat or meat products totalled 105 (35 per cent.). There was an additional 35 (12 per cent) that favoured a complete ban on swill feeding of all catering waste including non-meat waste. The combined figures of these respondents total 140 (46 per cent.) in favour.

There were 31 (10 per cent) respondents where no particular preference was stated.

An additional 55 (18 per cent.) respondents were against a ban being extended to non-meat waste foods, e.g. from millers, vegetable producers, brewers, etc.

Between 27 April and 1 May there were three additional responses (one against, one in favour of a ban on swill feeding meat waste, and one no preference). One further response was received after 1 May which was against a ban.

There were also an additional 23 undated responses. 11 were against a ban, three favoured a ban on all catering waste (i.e. including non-meat waste), eight favoured a ban on swill feeding meat waste and one was against an extended ban to non-meat waste.

In total therefore, of all responses received, 208 (63 per cent.) respondees supported a ban on swill feeding of catering waste containing meat. There were 90 (27 per cent) against a ban and 32 (10 per cent) where no preference was expressed.

I believe the House can be reassured therefore that not only was there a numerical majority in favour of a ban but also that it was widely supported when account is taken of the support expressed from associations that represented large memberships (including the NFU, Tenant Farmers Association, the British Pig Association, the Royal Association of British Dairy
 
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Farmers, the National Beef Association, the National Consumer Council, the Meat and Livestock Commission and qualified support from the National Pig Association).

All the responses were placed in the library after the consultation period, which was in accordance with normal procedures, and the responses continue to be available for others to scrutinise.


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