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Ms Keeble: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress is being made internationally on improving the protection for African elephants. [197791]

Mr. Morley: The African elephant is protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and all trade in raw ivory is currently suspended. Some elephant populations have recovered sufficiently to allow a one-off sale of existing ivory stocks but this will not take place until we are satisfied that the trade can be properly regulated and that the baseline data for monitoring the impact of such sales on the illegal killing of elephants (MIKE) are in place. The Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS), which is funded by Defra, is also helping to monitor the number of ivory seizures and identify the patterns of illegal trade. In addition, the CITES Secretariat has been directed to develop an action plan for dealing with the global market in ivory, focusing in particular on the unregulated domestic markets in Africa. It will also look at the markets in South East Asia, where the increased demand for ivory is thought to be fuelling the illegal killing of elephants.

Endangered Species

Ms Keeble: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress is being made in increasing protection for endangered species internationally. [197603]

Mr. Morley: Endangered species are protected internationally under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Proposals to increase the protection afforded to a number of different plant and animal species were adopted at the 13th Conference of CITES Parties, which was held in Bangkok, Thailand, at the beginning of October.

Endangered species such as the Irrawaddy dolphin, sulphur-crested cockatoo and spider tortoise were added to Appendix I of CITES, which means that all commercial trade in them is now prohibited. Others such as the great white shark, humphead wrasse and Chinese yew were added to Appendix II, which means that trade in these species will now be more strictly regulated than was the case before. Proposals to improve the enforcement of, and compliance with, CITES were also adopted, as were initiatives to address the illegal trade in great apes, Asian big cats and bushmeat.

Energy Efficiency (Newcastle)

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many people
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have benefited from the Home Energy Efficiency and Warm Front Scheme in the city of Newcastle upon Tyne since 1997. [194751]

Mr. Morley: Since the beginning of Warm Front in June 2000, approximately 2,100 households have been assisted in the constituency of Newcastle-upon-Tyne Central.

Under the Home Energy Efficiency Scheme information was not collected on at constituency level. However it is estimated that from April 1997 to May 2000 around 5,000 households in Newcastle-upon-Tyne Central were assisted by the Scheme.

Environment Council

Mr. Hood: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the outcome was of the Environment Council on 14 October; what the Government's stance was on the issues discussed, including its voting records; and if she will make a statement. [192659]

Mr. Morley: My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State, represented the United Kingdom at the meeting of the Environment Council held in Luxembourg on 14 October. No Ministers from the devolved administrations were present.

Council reached political agreement on two dossiers, involving three legal measures. Each represented a successful outcome for the UK.

On the proposed Directive on the Management of Waste from the Extractive Industries, discussion was primarily on the scope of the proposal. Hungary wanted the requirement for a financial guarantee to extend to land surrounding a waste facility. The UK argued that such a move would be impractical, overlap unhelpfully with the Environmental Liability Directive, and place unwarranted burdens on the extractive industries. Council reached agreement by a qualified majority which included the UK, on the basis of the compromise text tabled by the Presidency for the meeting, with Austria and Hungary abstaining.

The proposed Regulation on Certain Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases aims to make a contribution to our Kyoto Protocol target by introducing mitigation measures in relation to these gases, developed to replace the much more damaging (to the ozone layer) CFCs and HCFCs. Some of these fluorinated gases have a high global warming potential and therefore action is needed, across the EU. This measure is intended to deliver reductions in emissions equivalent to some 20 million tonnes of CO 2 per year by 2012.

The original proposal for a Regulation has been split into two parts, with a separate Directive relating to mobile air conditioning systems (MACs) fitted to cars and car-derived vans. Both were considered at Council, and much of the discussion related to the legal base. Austria and Denmark were particularly concerned that the environmental legal base provided in Article 175 should be used for the Regulation, allowing them to maintain tighter existing standards of their own without having to notify them to the Commission. Sweden also supported this view, wishing to preserve the flexibility to go further in future. For the UK, the Secretary of State
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put the view, also supported by the Commission and several other member states, that a dual legal base was the best means to avoid possible undermining of the single market, while achieving important environmental gains across the EU. The Directive includes a ban on the use of fluorinated gases with high global warming potential in MACs from 2011 (new vehicle types) and 2017 (all new vehicles). Both the Regulation and the Directive had additional text added providing for a future neutral review of the Community provisions (in the Regulation and Directive) concerning global warming potential of fluorinated gases.

Political agreement on both the Regulation and the Directive was reached by qualified majority which included the UK, with Denmark and Austria voting against, and Belgium, Sweden and Portugal abstaining.

Council adopted Conclusions relating to the Commission's communication on flood prevention, protection and mitigation, and following on from discussions held at an informal meeting of environment Ministers in July. The Conclusions agreed to increase information sharing and co-operation in this field.

Council also adopted Conclusions entitled 'Clean, Clever, Competitive', noting the opportunities that environmentally efficient innovation offers within the Lisbon process, and the importance of working with stakeholders to realise these opportunities.

A third set of Conclusions, adopted without discussion in Council, related to the Commission's communication on its work on the thematic strategy on the Urban Environment. While welcoming the communication, Council urged the Commission to review the justification for some of its emerging proposals in the light of the principle of subsidiarity and current legislation and procedures in member states.

The final set of Conclusions adopted was in preparation for the 10th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, in which Council welcomed President Putin's decision to refer the Kyoto protocol to the Russian Duma for ratification, and reaffirmed our commitment both to maintain EU leadership internationally on climate change, and to engage constructively with others.

Council held an exchange of views on sustainable road transport, during which there was widespread support for encouraging production of cleaner and more efficient vehicles, with significant reductions in emissions of both particulates and nitrous oxide (NOx).

There was also a lengthy exchange of views on the future financing of the Natura 2000 network of protected natural sites. Some 10 member states, with Spain and Portugal in the lead, submitted a joint statement focused on their desire to establish a system of comprehensive community co-financing for these sites. The Secretary of State spoke in support of the Commission's approach in its recent communication, which is to focus on providing for the financing of these sites through the principal existing community financial instruments where they are applicable. She also noted that the Habitats Directive which established Natura 2000 sites is clear in giving primary responsibility for financing them to member states, and stating that co-financing should be in exceptional circumstances.
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Overall decisions on financing would be taken in other Council formations, and our decisions must be taken in the light of those. The Presidency noted general support for the idea of integrating Natura 2000 funding into other community instruments, but that there was widespread concern to ensure that these provided sufficient coverage.

There was a short exchange of views on the EECCA environment Ministers conference ('Kiev+1') to be held in Tblisi on 21–22 October. The Secretary of State spoke to stress the importance we put on this in taking forward delivery of the EU and UNECE's commitments from the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development.

Under Other Business, Council noted information items on progress on the Aarhus dossiers, the forthcoming conference of the parties to the Basel Convention and the report from a German conference on impact assessment. Finally, the environment Ministers expressed their thanks to Margot Wallstrom, who was attending her last Council as Environment Commissioner.

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