|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many staff in her Department were employed to deal with Freedom of Information Act 2000 issues in (a) 2001, (b) 2002, (c) 2003 and (d) 2004; and how many staff are budgeted to deal with Freedom of Information Act 2000 issues in (i) 2005 and (ii) 2006. 
Alun Michael: Until 2004 Defra had no staff working full-time on Freedom of Information. The full-time equivalents of staff in the Access to Information Unit, including those working on the implementation of the Environmental Information Regulations for Defra, in each of the years you mention is approximately as follows:
Beyond those staff directly involved in the ongoing implementation and application of FOI within Defra, it is difficult to identify precisely the number of officials who will be dealing with Freedom of Information requests from January 2005 onwards, since it is potentially part of every civil servant's role to respond to Freedom of Information requests.
24 Jan 2005 : Column 12W
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list the public sector health bodies with which her Department (a) has worked and (b) is working in order to achieve the Government's statutory fuel poverty targets; what plans her Department has to extend such partnership working; and if she will make a statement. 
Alun Michael: Defra works with the Department of Health to ensure that the issue of fuel poverty is considered in the work of public sector health bodies. Defra has also supported, via National Energy Action, the appointment of a number of primary care trust champions to promote the need to tackle fuel poverty in their local area.
The scheme managers for Defra's Warm Front programme work closely with public health bodies to promote the benefits of the scheme and highlight the role improved energy efficiency plays in tackling fuel poverty.
Mr. Morley: The 1999 landfill directive sets challenging targets to reduce the amount of biodegradable municipal waste sent to landfill. These significant reductions need to be properly planned and managed and experience suggests that a steady reduction over a period of years is likely to be the most effective way to achieve the reductions needed.
To help local authorities meet their landfill directive targets the Government will introduce a Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme in England on 1 April 2005. The primary aim of the scheme is to give authorities as much flexibility as possible in reducing the amount of biodegradable municipal waste sent to landfill, while reassuring Government that the necessary progress towards achieving the directive's targets is being made.
The scheme is not intended to inflict major new costs on local authorities not provided for in spending reviews, either by imposing unnecessary penalties or forcing them to take part in trading against their will. It is designed as a tool to help local authorities meet the required reductions in the most cost-effective way and it will allow them to share the burden of meeting the reduction targets.
Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many colonies of bees are within the workload of each bee inspector; and how many beekeepers each inspector is responsible for in the six months of the year when inspections are undertaken. 
On average, each inspector visits about 70 beekeepers and inspects about 650 colonies in the course of a season. Inspections are targeted in areas where disease risk and colony density are high. A bout 10 per cent. of the total number of colonies is inspected each year.
24 Jan 2005 : Column 13W
Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures (a) she and (b) the Environment Agency is taking to detect sites of land contaminated by oil leaks and spillages; and what programmes exist to treat such sites. 
Mr. Morley: Under Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, introduced in April 2000, responsibility for identifying contaminated land rests with local authorities in accordance with the detailed provisions of the regime. Where contaminated land is designated a "special site", as defined, the Environment Agency becomes the enforcing authority. Remediation is normally undertaken by the "appropriate persons", or at their expense, if necessary through the service of a remediation notice by the enforcing authority.
Mr. Byrne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the process for closing alleys or gallies which are designated as rights of way; and how many such closures have been secured since the legislation was last updated. 
Alun Michael: Schedule 6 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 inserted new section 118B into the Highways Act 1980. This enables highway authorities to close rights of way on the grounds of crime prevention in areas designated by the Secretary of State. The first stage of the process is for the relevant highway authority to apply to Defra to have an area designated. If successful, they can then make special extinguishment orders in much the same way as they are currently able to close rights of way for other reasons.
Since the powers came into force in February 2003, 22 applications have been received and considered. As a result 18 extinguishment orders have been made under section 118B. Fifteen of these orders have now been confirmed. Two are awaiting decisions having been referred to the Secretary of State because objections were received and a third is expected shortly following an objection.
John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she expects to publish her response to the consultation on the Use of Mechanically Propelled Vehicles on Rights of Way. 
Alun Michael: The response to the consultation, entitled "Use of mechanically propelled vehicles on Rights of WayThe Government's framework for action" was published on 20 January. Copies have been placed in the House Library.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will take steps to facilitate the improvement in the navigability of (a) the River Itchen, north of Southampton and (b) other rivers in Hampshire; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Morley: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has no direct power to facilitate the improvement of navigability of the River Itchen or any other non-navigable river. Those wishing to improve the navigability of non-navigable rivers are free to apply to the Secretary of State for an order for this purpose under the Transport and Works Act 1992. They will be expected to justify their proposals and any objections will be carefully considered.
Mr. Tyler: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much revenue her Department has received from the use of non-geographic 0870 telephone numbers for the period 1 October 2003 to 30 September 2004. 
Mr. Tyler: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many non-geographic 0870 telephone numbers are in use by her Department; and what services can be accessed by calling each of them. 
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|