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18 Nov 2004 : Column 2029W—continued

Home Composting

Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to measure the contribution of home composting towards recycling targets. [199054]

Mr. Morley: The Government is working with expert bodies, including the Waste and Resources Action Programme, to develop a robust methodology to calculate the amount of waste diverted from the household waste stream through home composting schemes. If a workable and auditable methodology is found, the Government will then review whether and how home composting can be incorporated into future local and national recycling and composting figures.

The impact of home composting on waste reduction is already reflected at local level by Best Value Performance Indicator 84, which measures kilograms of household waste collected per head of population. Home composting activity will also be reflected in local and national progress towards meeting targets under the Landfill Directive to reduce the amount of biodegradable municipal waste sent to landfill.

Hunting

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has undertaken of the impact of a ban on hunting on those who live in tied housing; and what steps will be taken to protect existing tied tenants. [198531]

Alun Michael: Tied housing is a private arrangement between landlord and tenant, but any tenants evicted by their landlords as a result of a ban on hunting will have the same recourse to their local services as any other evicted citizen. No assessment has been made by Defra of the effect of a ban on hunting on those living in tied housing as this issue is not covered in Lord Burns' comprehensive report and did not feature significantly in the evidence given to the Portcullis House hearings.

Industrial Fisheries

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will take steps to support a reduction in the use of fish meal and oil in aquaculture and agriculture; and what steps are being taken to promote the development of vegetable substitutes for these products. [197210]


 
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Mr. Bradshaw: The Government are concerned to protect vulnerable stocks of fish in the production of fishmeal and fish oil and we support measures that may be needed to help stock recovery and sustainability.

Within the EU, the use of fishmeal in the agriculture sector is currently restricted to monogastric animals (eg pigs and poultry). Fishmeal and fish oil are used widely throughout the aquaculture industry and any reduction in usage would have implications for product quality. The issues are complex and are being considered in the context of the EU strategy for the sustainable development of European Aquaculture (Com. (2002) 511 final).

Defra is helping to fund collaborative cod trials which are designed to test different levels of fishmeal replacement with vegetable proteins. Defra has also invested in highly strategic research to transfer the genes in marine algae responsible for the health beneficial components of fish oil to oilseed rape. This research at the Centre for Novel Agricultural Products at the University of York has just been completed. It could lead eventually to the development of oilseed rape varieties providing a vegetable oil based supply which incorporates the key components of fish oil.

Insect Population

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will estimate the UK (a) fly, (b) mosquito and (c) cockroach population; and what the predicted numbers are in the event of a (i) 1 per cent. (ii) two per cent. and (iii) three per cent. increase on current average temperatures due to climate changes. [192304]

Mr. Bradshaw: It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

Kyoto Protocol

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the decision of the Russian Government to sign the Kyoto Protocol. [191123]

Mr. Morley: We are delighted that President Putin has signed the Kyoto Protocol, and eagerly anticipate its deposition at the United Nations shortly. The Protocol will come into force ninety days after its deposition, and we look forward to working with Russia both in achieving our Kyoto goals and at the forthcoming Tenth Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on progress with ratification of the Kyoto Protocol; which countries have yet to ratify; and what recent discussions she has had with them. [191128]

Mr. Morley: In order for the Kyoto Protocol to enter into force it must be ratified by 55 countries including developed countries accounting for 55 per cent. of this group's carbon dioxide emissions from 1990. With these criteria satisfied, the Protocol would come into force 90 days after the last required ratified instrument was deposited at the United Nations.
 
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127 countries have, at present, ratified the Protocol, and in the absence of ratification by the US, Russia—which in 1990 produced 17 per cent. of the world's CO 2 emissions—will provide the final signature to bring Kyoto into force. The Federation Council and Duma (Russia's upper and lower Houses of Parliament) approved the Protocol in late October this year, and President Putin put his signature to the document on the 5 November. We now await the document's deposition at the UN, and its eventual coming into force.

My officials and I have regular discussions with our counterparts in other countries, including the US and Australia, about the urgent need for serious action to tackle climate change. The 10th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in December in Buenos Aires will provide a further opportunity to exchange views.

Land Management

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will ensure that conditions are attached to future stewardship schemes to secure land management practices that reduce the risk of flooding. [198182]

Alun Michael: We hope to launch our new Environmental Stewardship scheme, which is currently awaiting EU approval, early next year. Details of the scheme options and conditions will be released nearer the time.

It is our intention that the scheme will include some measures designed to reduce soil erosion and run-off in high risk areas. It will also include options that may contribute to flood management in both river and coastal situations.

Defra has completed initial research to establish current knowledge of the extent to which changes in land management practices impact on flood events. This has shown that there is great uncertainty about the impacts at other than local scales. Future research in the next few years will consider these impacts upon wider catchment areas. Further conditions or options may be included in future scheme revisions once the scientific evidence is clearer.

Landfill

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent representations she has received regarding the measurement of waste disposal by landfill by volume rather than weight. [198795]

Mr. Morley: This issue is raised occasionally in debates and parliamentary Questions in this House and in correspondence from members of the public. In the main, however, it is recognised that developing an effective system of measuring waste by volume is not straightforward (for example, waste tends to be compacted at various stages during the disposal process). Moreover, as all EU legislation measures waste by weight, a robust and acceptable method of conversion from volume to weight would also be needed.
 
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League Against Cruel Sports

Kate Hoey: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when (a) she and (b) Ministers in her Department last met representatives of the League Against Cruel Sports; and if she will make a statement. [199190]

Alun Michael: It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

Milk Prices

Mr. McLoughlin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions she has entered into with supermarkets and co-operatives regarding the farm-gate price of liquid milk; and what the responses of those companies have been. [198373]

Alun Michael: Price negotiations between producers and processors, or processors and supermarkets are private commercial matters in which the Government cannot and should not get involved, provided competition rules are respected. However, Ministers frequently meet representatives from all parts of the dairy supply chain and are therefore aware of the issues.


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