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15 Nov 2004 : Column 983W—continued


Abandoned Vehicles

Geraldine Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs who is responsible for recovering abandoned vehicles left out on the sands of Morecambe Bay. [196499]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 8 November 2004]: Under Section 3(1) of the Refuse Disposal Amenity Act 1978, local authorities are under a duty to remove vehicles that are abandoned in their area on any land in the open air or on any other land forming part of a highway. However, under Section 3(3) of the same Act, local authorities are dissolved of this duty regarding vehicles that are situated otherwise than on a carriageway if it appears to them that the cost of removing them to the nearest convenient carriageway would be unreasonably high.

Instances of vehicles abandoned on sands and in some cases swept out into the sea will no doubt fall under Section (3)3 of the Act.

Aircraft Emissions

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions she has had with the Department for Transport regarding the reduction of emissions around Heathrow. [195089]

Mr. Morley: Officials in the Department are playing an active role and are in continuous contact with officials in the Department for Transport (DfT) as part of the DfT work under the Project for the Sustainable Development of Heathrow. This project takes forward the commitment made in the Government's White Paper "The Future of Air Transport" to examine how to make best use of Heathrow's existing two runways, and whether a third runway could be added after a new runway at Stansted, while complying with strict conditions on air quality, noise and improved public transport access (paragraph 11.63 of the The Future of Air Transport White Paper).

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment her Department has made of the effects on emissions of mixed-mode runway operation at Heathrow. [195091]

Mr. Morley: The Department has not commissioned any work on the effect on emissions of air pollutants from mixed-mode runway operation at Heathrow.
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The Future of Air Transport White Paper mentioned mixed mode as a possible way of making best use of Heathrow's existing runways, and included some preliminary assessment of the air quality impacts. However, it acknowledged that the issue would require detailed study and that full public consultation would be necessary before any decisions were reached. My officials will be working with officials in the Department for Transport to consider the issues, in the context of the work on the Project for the Sustainable Development of Heathrow.


Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate has been made of the impact of long-line fishing nets on albatross populations; and what progress she has made in eliminating these nets. [193671]

Mr. Morley: It is estimated by Birdlife International that 270,000 albatrosses and petrels die annually from long-line fishing. We are working with our international partners to address the threats these birds face from it. For example, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has an international action plan on seabirds which contains measures to reduce the incidental catch from this type of fishing.

The Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP), which came into force in February this year, requires its parties to support the FAO plan. The first meeting of parties is taking place this month and we will play an active part. We are also keen to encourage other range states to follow our example by ratifying the agreement.

The FAO also has another international plan, which the UK was instrumental in negotiating, to tackle threats from pirate fishing; and we lead an international taskforce, drawn up under the auspices of OECD, looking at how best to take this forward.

The Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), to which we are a party, supplements these international efforts, requiring all vessels operating in the Antarctic seas to attach a bird "scarers" to their fishing lines, sink their lines, and fish at night, as most birds fish during day-light hours. The vessels also have an observer on board to monitor compliance.

Arable Area Payments

Paddy Tipping: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much has been paid out under the Arable Area Payments Scheme in each county in England in 2003–04; and if she will make a statement. [193515]

Alun Michael: After allowing for modulation and other adjustments the following payments have been sent to addresses in English counties in respect of claims made in 2003 under the Arable Area Payments Scheme (AAPS).
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CountyPayment (£)
Greater London1,094,642
Greater Manchester1,347,715
Hereford and Worcester25,922,440
Isle of Wight2,386,338
Sussex, East7,505,715
Sussex, West11,771,394
Tyne and Wear2,174,018
West Midlands1,575,935
Yorkshire, North55,370,557
Yorkshire, South10,647,164
Yorkshire, West6,087,891

Payments in respect of AAPS claims made in 2004 are due to start being issued on 16 November. As indicated in Defra News Release 368/04, priority will be given to farmers in the areas worst affected by wet weather during the summer harvest.

Beak Trimming

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the readiness of the poultry and egg industries for the ending of beak trimming in 2010. [196113]

Mr. Bradshaw: Defra set up the Beak Trimming Action Plan Group to monitor progress on the issue of beak trimming. Defra is working with industry, breeders and animal welfare groups to discuss alternatives to enable industry to adapt to the ban without comprising bird welfare. This work is ongoing.
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Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the Government plans to promote (a) the wider use of and (b) research into the benefits of biodiesel. [195989]

Mr. Morley: The Government are promoting the use of biofuels through cuts of 20 pence per litre in the duty rate for biodiesel and bioethanol. The Government are currently considering the UK's indicative targets for the use of biofuels under the EU Biofuels Directive. Measures being considered to help meet these targets include a renewable transport fuel obligation, input-based taxation for biofuels and enhanced capital allowances for production plants. Regional support grants for capital investment in production plants are already available through the Regional Development Agencies.

The Government have sponsored promotional leaflets, such as "Drive cleaner, drive cheaper" and "The facts on biodiesel and bioethanol". The locations of filling stations retailing biodiesel are available on the Energy Saving Trust's website at:

A number of Government-funded research projects have established the benefits of biodiesel in terms of reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Cambridge University has recently been commissioned to review the economics of energy crops, including those used for biodiesel. The benefits of biodiesel will also be considered as part of the current review of the UK Climate Change Programme.

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