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Sir Michael Spicer: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when the hon. Member for Scunthorpe will reply to the letter of 1 September 2004 from the hon. Member for West Worcestershire. [207980]

Mr. Morley: I responded to the hon. Member on 12 January 2005.

Environmental Sustainability Index

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs where the UK ranks in the Environmental Sustainability Index; and what the rankings are of other EU countries. [208224]

Mr. Morley: The UK ranks 91st in the current 2002 Environmental Sustainability Index. The ranks for other EU countries are shown in the table. We understand that an updated index is to be published by the end of February.

The UK and other countries believe this index is flawed and potentially misleading. It is an aggregated indicator that aims to weigh together many components into a single overall measure of "environmental sustainability", an approach that as yet is not scientifically robust. The choice of the components, and the way in which they are weighted together is largely subjective. A different choice of components or weights would give different results—amply illustrated by the fact that the previous edition of this index, based on a different selection of components, placed the UK 16th.
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Furthermore, there are still many areas where data are not sufficiently comparable between countries, or are simply not available and have been imputed. It should also be noted that the variables in this index tend to measure circumstances at a single point in time rather than trends or changes, therefore to the extent the index measures anything at all, it is based on the environmental situation which a country faces rather than its progress or performance in improving environmental sustainability.
2002 Environmental sustainability index rankings by EU country

RankCountryESI score
64Czech Republic50.2
91United Kingdom46.1

Global Leaders of Tomorrow Task Force of the World Economic Forum in association with Yale Centre for Environmental Law and Policy and Columbia University

EU Directives

Mr. McGrady: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list the infrastructure proceedings pending against the UK Government arising from the failure to comply with EU environmental directives, indicating those which relate exclusively to (a) England, (b) Wales, (c) Scotland and (d) Northern Ireland. [208417]

Mr. Morley: I assume the hon. Member means infraction proceedings pending against the UK Government. At present there are three cases pending at the European Court of Justice on environmental directives, none of which is related exclusively to England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.

The three cases are:
Directive numberNature of the case
1992/43/ECHabitats sites list
1992/43/ECNatural Habitats of wild fauna and flora
1992/43/ECUK trade in Annex IV species and application of the birds and habitats directive

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Food Dumping

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what (a) tonnage and (b) value of food was dumped by the food industry in landfill sites or incinerated because it had passed the sell-by date in the last year for which figures are available. [208200]

Mr. Morley: The data are not available in the form requested. The Government are currently consulting on a waste data strategy, designed to improve the quality of waste data in the interests of all potential users.

The Environment Agency's National Waste Production Survey (NWPS) of 20,000 businesses, conducted in 1998–99, produced the following estimates in respect of food waste:
SectorQuantity of waste in tonnesAs percentage of food waste produced by the commercial and industrial sectorsAs percentage of total waste produced by the commercial and industrial sectors
Hotels and restaurants10,0000.380.01
Food, drinks and

However these figures only relate to that fraction of the waste that is definitely food. A considerable amount of food waste was also contained within the general and biodegradable category. The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) estimate that the amount of food waste produced by the hotel and restaurant sector, for example, could be as high as 3 million tonnes per year.

From 1 January 2006 the Animal By-Products Regulation (EC) No 1774/2002 will prohibit the use of landfill for the disposal of former foodstuffs containing material of animal origin which originate in food manufacturing and retail premises. Also, I understand that a number of multiple retailers have voluntary initiatives in place to make use of unsold food products.

The Government support diverting foodstuffs away from landfill and provides funding for various measures that offer value-for-money in terms of diverting waste from landfill.

Food Transportation

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps her Department is taking to reduce food miles. [206814]

Alun Michael: Defra has commissioned research on the impact of food transportation. The report of the study of "The Validity of Food Miles as an Indicator of Sustainable Development" will be published soon. I will write to my hon. Friend to inform him when the report is published.

Defra has also contributed funding, along with other stakeholders, to a Transport 2000 study to model various transport distribution scenarios for a 'basket' of three food products. The study examined whether a shift to sourcing these products more locally would lead to
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greater or fewer CO 2 emissions in the supply chain overall. Transport 2000 has recently published the results of this work in "Wise Moves—exploring the relationship between food, transport and CO 2 ".

National Bee Unit

Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the proposals outlined in the Haskins Report on the budget of the National Bee Unit; and if she will make a statement. [208002]

Alun Michael: The Haskins Report made no proposals concerning the budget of the National Bee Unit, though this provision was one identified in Defra's Activity Baseline Review as an area where 20 per cent. savings (equivalent to £250,000 p.a.) could be realised from 2008.

Mr. Willis: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to change staffing levels at the Central Science Laboratory's National Bee Unit. [209184]

Alun Michael: Staffing levels at the National Bee Unit will be affected by a reduction of 20 per cent. in funding for the Defra bee health programme from 2008. Detailed decisions are a matter for the Central Science Laboratory but we anticipate the reduction will impact most on seasonal bee inspectors.

Parliamentary Questions

Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for what reason an incorrect answer was given on 9 November to the hon. Member for South-East Cambridgeshire in reply to question 194308 in the last Session of Parliament. [200216]

Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 29 November 2005]: Because it was based on the information available at the time. Further investigation revealed that two Defra officials were sent copies of the video by Northumberland county council at the beginning of February 2003. I corrected my answer to question 194008 as soon as I was informed of this in my pursuant answer to the hon. Member on 18 November 2004.

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