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4 Nov 2004 : Column 352W—continued

EU Committees

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many times during the Greek presidency of the EU the Committee (a) on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora (Habitat) and (b) for the protection of species of wild fauna and flora by regulating trade met; when and where these meetings took place; which UK Government expert was present at each meeting; what (i) technical and (ii) financial issues were raised by the UK Government expert at each meeting; what recommendations the Committee produced during that period; what actions were (A) proposed and (B) taken by (1) the EU and (2) the UK Government as a result of the Committee's recommendations; and if she will make a statement. [193398]

Mr. Bradshaw: (a) The Committee on the Conservation of Natural Habitats and of Wild Fauna and Flora (the Habitats Committee) met once during the period of the Greek presidency, in Brussels on 10 March 2003.

UK representation consisted of two officials from my Department, one official from the Scottish Executive and a scientific expert from the Joint Nature Conservation Committee. The main agenda items considered were:
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At this meeting the UK representative provided technical information regarding progress on the submission of the UK list of Natura 2000 sites for the Atlantic region. In discussions concerning the Report on the Financing of Natura 2000 the UK representative highlighted the importance of marine areas for the cost estimates of the network and the uncertainties due to the outstanding designations. The UK representative also asked for clarification on the timing and format of member state's reactions to the Commission's Communication which will follow on from the Report on Financing Natura 2000.

The Commission proposed the following actions

As a consequence of discussions at the meeting, the Commission has adopted the Alpine List of Sites of Community Interest, published the list of successful projects for co-financing under LIFE Nature, published its Communication on Financing Natura 2000, and presented papers on Monitoring and Surveillance at the EU Nature Directors meeting on the 10 April 2003.

(b) The EC CITES Committee (The Committee on Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora) met once during the period of the Greek presidency, in Brussels on 13 March 2003.

UK representation normally comprises officials from my Department. At this meeting the UK representative raised a number of technical issues: introducing a discussion paper on Ivory; the use made of Article 8.2 of Council Regulation 338/97 in other member states; licensing of trade in vaccines, cell lines, etc.; the marking/identification of parts and derivatives; the role of the EU at the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation meetings and the release of meeting documents to NGOs. The UK representative also asked for the implementation of the mahogany listing to be added to the agenda for the next EC meeting. On financial issues the UK representative inquired over EU financial assistance to the CITES initiative—Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) programme.

The Commission proposed the following actions: adding the species "oxymura jaimaicensis" and "Chrysemys picta" to Annex D of Council Regulation 338/97 and considering further the case for the addition of "Padda Fuscata" to Annex D. The Commission also proposed looking further at: a proposal for an Annex B listing for certain Italian endemic species; intra-EU certificates for transboundary movements pending
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implementation of new CITES appendices; and the UK proposals in relation to the licensing of trade in vaccines, cell lines, etc. No actions were proposed by the UK.

The Committee on Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora is chaired by the European Commission. It makes decisions, not recommendations, in relation to the implementation of Council Regulation 338/97. Copies of the Summary of Conclusions for the meeting which took place on 13 March 2003 have been made available in the House of Commons Library.

Fox Hunting

Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research has been undertaken to assess the effect of a ban on the hunting of foxes on the predation of ground nesting birds; and if she will make a statement. [195775]

Alun Michael: The Department is not aware of specific academic research into the predation of foxes on ground nesting birds. However, we recognise the damage that foxes can do to such birds. The Hunting Bill, introduced into the House of Lords, which would have introduced a general ban on hunting with dogs, included a specific exemption related to this issue. This is designed to ensure that gamekeepers or others can continue to use dogs to control pests that threaten ground nesting birds in their care.

Illegal Waste Dumping

Shona McIsaac: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list the successful prosecutions for illegal dumping of waste in each of the past three years; and what the penalty issued in each case was. [194616]

Mr. Morley: The information is as follows:
ProsecutionsFinesAverage fine (£)

1. Data are based on number of defendants proceeded against at magistrates courts under s33 Environmental Protection Act 1990.
2. Data from 2003 will not be available until the end of November when the 2003 criminal statistics have been published.

Ministerial Expenses

Mr. Prisk: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much the Department spent on (a) maintenance, (b) renovation, (c) council tax and (d) running costs of residential properties used by Ministers and officials in each year since 1997. [191395]

Margaret Beckett: The amount spent on residential properties for Ministers and officials since the formation of Defra has been as follows:

MaintenanceRenovationCouncil taxRunning costs

(2) Actual
(3) As per forecast

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The running costs are those paid by the Department to the Cabinet office in respect of the capital charge and the costs for utilities, the Whitehall District Heating System, security and facilities management.

Information about the costs of official residences used by Ministers for previous financial years is already in the public domain.

Organic Farming

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the impact of organic farming on biodiversity. [193293]

Mr. Bradshaw: Defra last year funded a major fully referenced study (OF0405). An Assessment of the Environmental Impacts of Organic Farming (May 2003). This can be seen on

An additional item of research is the English Nature and Royal Society for the Protection of Birds report "Does Organic Farming Benefit Biodiversity?" This has been published electronically by the journal Biological Conservation (10 August 2004).It can be seen on searching for "organic farming".

Both of these reports point to a general increase in biodiversity resulting from organic farming methods.

Defra has also funded a five year research project (OF0165)—Factors influencing biodiversity within organic and conventional systems of arable farming—which has recently been completed (30 September 2004). The full report should be available in due course.

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