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Fur Farms

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many fur farms are licensed in England. [188727]

Mr. Bradshaw: None. The Fur Farming (Prohibition) Act 2000 has banned fur farming in England since 31 December 2002.

Parish/Town Councillors

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what help is available for the training of parish and town councillors and clerks; and what level of funding her Department provides to assist in such training. [188314]

Alun Michael: The Government wish to encourage all town and parish councils to reach the standards of the best. To achieve this, councillors and clerks need a wide range of skills to act as the voice of their communities, deliver services and create strong local partnerships. Therefore, town and parish councils should be actively supporting their councillors and clerks to participate in training and continuing professional development.

The Rural White Paper (November 2000) established the "QUALITY" town and parish council scheme and provided £2 million in assistance to help councils meet the new quality standards and establish a national strategy to provide training and support for parish and town councils.

The National Training Strategy for parish and town councils was published in November 2001 in partnership with the Government, the Countryside Agency, the National Association of Local Councils and the Society of Local Council Clerks. Jointly, these organisations have used the £2 million mentioned above to:

In addition, through the Countryside Agency, Defra is providing over £300,000 this year to continue developing County Training Partnerships and County Associations of Local Councils to act as support infrastructure for parish and town councils. Some £40,000 of this money is used to provide a bursary scheme to help small councils meet their training costs.

Potato and Vegetable Farming

Mr. Grogan: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans her Department is making for allocating single farm entitlements with authorisation to grow potatoes and vegetables; and what criteria will be applied in the process. [186982]

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Alun Michael: Forms will be issued in March 2005 for farmers to apply, by 16 May, for the allocation of Single Payment Scheme entitlements and for payment against those entitlements. As part of the application process, eligible farmers will be able to ask for a number of their entitlements to have an authorisation attached. Those allocated entitlements with an authorisation will be able to grow fruit, vegetables and potatoes on the equivalent number of hectares which they will need to have to support their annual claim for payment against those entitlements.

Eligibility for the allocation of entitlements with authorisations will be restricted by regional ceilings, which represent the average number of hectares of fruit, vegetables and potatoes that were grown in each region in the period 2000–02. Allocations to individual farmers will be based first on the number of hectares they grew of those crops in 2003. If there is any headroom remaining between the regional ceiling and the number of individual claims based on 2003 production, then 2004 production may also be taken into account. If there still remains headroom under the ceiling then 2005 production may additionally be taken into account. With this in mind, farmers who wish to claim entitlements with authorisations will be asked to provide details of their 2003, 2004 and 2005 production of fruit, vegetable and potatoes on their application forms. Entitlements, including those with authorisations, will be allocated by the end of 2005.

Mr. Grogan: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the impact of Common Agricultural Policy reform regulations on the availability of land for let to specialist potato and vegetable growers in 2005. [186983]

Alun Michael: Some concerns have been raised that the introduction of the Single Payment in 2005 could affect the willingness of landowners to let land in that year. The Department has discussed these issues with representatives of the farming industry and their professional advisers and our view remains that the interests of both landowners and growers can be protected by appropriate contractual arrangements between the two parties.


Sue Doughty: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many refrigeration unit storage and treatment facilities have been found to be in breach of regulations relating to the implementation of European Council Regulation No. 2037/2000 since it came into force; and what action was taken in each case. [187017]

Mr. Morley: The Environment Agency has concluded three successful prosecutions against operators of fridge storage facilities. These have resulted in penalties of £35,000, £15,000 and a four-month custodial sentence respectively, reflecting the seriousness with which the Government and the Courts regard these offences. In addition a number of warning letters and enforcement notices have been served, requiring fridge treatment plant operators to comply with licence conditions.
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Sue Doughty: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many (a) storage and (b) treatment facilities for refrigeration units there are in England and Wales; and how many of these have been inspected by the Environment Agency since European Council Regulation No. 2037/2000 came into force. [187018]

Mr. Morley: 78 sites are licensed to store fridges, although all may not be operational. 19 sites are licensed for the treatment of fridges.

The sites have been inspected in accordance with the Environment Agency's Operator and Pollution Risk Appraisal (OPRA) system and the Waste Management Facility Site Inspection Methodology. Under OPRA, these sites would initially have been inspected at monthly intervals. The assessments of operators' performance consider both the type and severity of non-compliance and the environmental significance of that breach or non-compliance.

Sue Doughty: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the total cost to (a) central Government and (b) local authorities of meeting the requirements of European Council Regulation No.2037/2000 as they relate to refrigeration units has been since 1 January 2002. [187019]

Mr. Morley: The Government were responsible for securing provision for additional costs that local government faced as a result of the ozone depleting substance Regulation 2037/00.

A special grant of £40 million was provided for additional costs that local authorities in England incurred as a result of implementing the Regulation for the period 2002–03.

£6 million was provided in the 2002–03 local government finance settlement to cover the period 1 January to 31 March 2002.

The Spending Review of 2002 included provision within the Environmental, Protective and Cultural Services block for the continuing costs for 2003–04 onwards, which was incorporated into the special/hazardous wastes allocation.

Estimates for future expenditure have also been incorporated into the Spending Review for hazardous wastes. The actual amounts are significantly less than in 2002–03, because of the decrease in cost of the disposal of refrigeration units and the consequences of implementing producer responsibility under the waste electronic and electrical equipment directive (WEEE).

Sue Doughty: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of the ozone depleting substances covered by European Council Regulation No. 2037/2000 have been recovered from (a) domestic refrigeration and (b) commercial refrigeration units since the implementation of the regulation, broken down by (i) refrigerant fluid and (ii) foaming agent. [187020]

Mr. Morley: The information is not available in the form requested as the data on the recovery of ozone
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depleting substances (ODS) do not identify the equipment from which they were recovered. In addition, it is not possible to calculate the percentage of ODS recovered from the refrigerant fluids. This is because, it is not known how much refrigerant fluid is in the unit on arrival at the licensed waste management site, as many units are damaged in use or transit, and fluid will have escaped before the units are received for disposal.

The following information is given.

Sue Doughty: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what procedures are in place to ensure that (a) handling, (b) removal and (c) storage of refrigeration units results in minimal leakage of ozone depleting substances; and what measures exist to ensure an accurate monitoring of leakage. [187021]

Mr. Morley: Sites for the storage of fridges are regulated under the Waste Management Licensing Regulations 1994. A site licence is required and the standard permit requires storage of fridges to comply with a number of conditions, many of which are specifically aimed at reducing damage to refrigeration units while they are in storage. Compliance with these conditions is assessed during routine inspections.

Since most storage takes place outside, monitoring of leakage using instrumentation does not take place. However, the Environment Agency visually inspects the conditions under which fridges are stored and compliance with storage conditions minimises the risk of leakage from the coolant circuit.

Monitoring equipment is employed at the treatment facilities and emissions are analysed at the destruction facilities for recovered ozone depleting substances.

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