Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many households have been assisted by the Home Energy Efficiency and Warm Front schemes in the City of Newcastle upon Tyne since 1 April 1997; and what the average size of grant was in each financial year. 
Under the Home Energy Efficiency Scheme information was not collected 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.
|Approximate average grant (£)
|200405 (to date)
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether it is the Government's policy to support an eight-hour limit on live animal transport at EU level; if it will advance this point of view when the issue next comes before the Agriculture Council; if the Government will use their
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presidency of the European Union next year to promote an eight-hour limit if no earlier agreement has been reached; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Bradshaw: We have consistently said that we prefer a trade in meat to the long distance transport of animals, and we would prefer that journey times were reduced. However at present there is no qualified majority among EU member states in favour of this and we see no prospect of the balance of opinion in the Council on journey times changing significantly in the near future.
At the November 2004 Agriculture Council, EU Ministers reached political agreement on new rules for animal transport. They will improve enforcement of the rules, introduce new training and authorisation procedures for transporters and an obligation on the Commission to review the dossier four years after implementation.
The role of the presidency is the effective management of business. It does not give the holder the right of initiative, that remains with the European Commission. We will work closely with the Commission to deliver the inherited agenda and any new proposals brought forward while we hold the presidency.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions she has had with her counterpart in the US Administration; and what the outcome of those discussions was. 
Mr. Morley: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State's most recent interaction with the US was her visit to New York and Washington from 35 May where she met with senior representatives of the Administration to discuss climate change issues.
Although no longer disputing scientific evidence that human activity is causing global warming, the US Administration has yet to take effective action on climate change at either federal or international level. While the US remains opposed to the Kyoto Protocol, ratification by Russia and the entry into force of the protocol is likely to increase the pressure on the Administration to tackle climate change and to take the issue seriously.
It was encouraging to see that action was under way at state level. For example, representatives of nine north-east states outlined their emerging cap-and-trade scheme, and praised the UK for taking a leading role.
The Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is meeting this week in Buenos Aires which will provide a further opportunity for Ministers to speak to representatives from the US.
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list her official engagements over the last six months; who was present at each meeting; what the (a) date and
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(b) location was of each meeting; what issues were discussed; and what plans she has to establish a public register of such information. 
Margaret Beckett: Ministers meet many individuals and organisations and attend many functions relating to Government business, and as part of the process of policy development. To provide the detailed information requested would incur disproportionate cost. The daily on the record briefing by the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman regularly provides details of Minister's public engagements.
Tom Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many Ministers from her Department have visited the London borough of Wandsworth in each of the last five years; and what the purpose was of each visit. 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 20 December 2004]: The Government have established the independent Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM) to assess the options for the longer term management of higher activity radioactive waste throughout the United Kingdom. The committee is currently preparing a shortlist of potential solutions in consultation with stakeholders. It's report is due to be delivered in July 2006. Further details of CoRWM's work programme can be found at www.corwm.org.uk.
Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps are taken by the Environment Agency or the Petroleum Officer where a risk assessment shows that a storage system at a petrol station poses a significant risk to the environment or human health and no harm reduction has been undertaken by the site operator; and under what circumstances they can take action to close a site. 
The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 require that employers reduce the risks from dangerous substances as far as is reasonably practicable. If the site is still being used as a filling station, and a Petroleum Officer believes the risk of a leak from the underground tanks is unacceptable, powers are available in Section 21 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to issue an improvement or prohibition notice. If the site is no longer being used as a filling station, the provisions of Section 73 of the Public Health Act 1961, or in Scotland, Section 94 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 allow the Petroleum Licensing Authority (PLA) to instruct the site owner to make the tanks permanently
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safe. If the site has been abandoned and the owner cannot be traced or contacted then the PLA can use further provisions in the legislation to make the site safe.
Under Regulation 19 of the Groundwater Regulations the Environment Agency may prohibit, or place conditions upon, storage at the petrol station where it considers there to be an unacceptable risk to groundwater. Under the Water Resources Act 1991 and the Anti-Pollution (Works) Regulations 1999 the Environment Agency may require any environmental damage to be remediated, or action taken to prevent future pollution. In practice it is likely that the Agency would first discuss the matter with the petrol station owner to seek voluntary agreement on a solution.
Mr. Morley: On 9 December 2004, Official Report, column 106WS, I announced that the Government had published for consultation the draft Waste Management (England and Wales) Regulations 2005. One of the main purposes of the draft Regulations is to repeal the current exclusion in section 75(7)(c) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and to apply to agricultural waste the national controls that are already in place to comply with the waste framework directive and the landfill directive. The consultation paper is available in the Library of the House and on my Department's website at http://www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/consult/agwaste-regs/index.htm.
Chapter 8 of the consultation paper discusses the introduction of a voluntary or statutory producer responsibility scheme for the collection and recovery of non-packaging plastic waste from farms. Views are invited by 18 March 2005. Plastic packaging waste from farms and elsewhere is already the subject of the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 1997 (as amended).