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7 Feb 2005 : Column 1213W—continued

Mr. Paul Joy

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the evidential basis was of the public statement made by Andus Radford, district fisheries inspector, that the fine imposed on Mr. Paul Joy amounted to a quarter of his income for the month of September 2003. [213859]

Mr. Bradshaw: No such statement was made. In a radio interview Mr. Radford commented as follows:

The month in which the offence occurred was in fact October 2003. Mr. Joy was fined £4,996, of which £1,496 related to the value of the cod which was illegally landed.

National Parks

David Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will publish the guidance issued to the national parks on the encouragement of people from the inner cities to use the parks. [211297]

Alun Michael: As part of the funding process for national parks I indicate my priorities to park authorities and I shall be writing to national park
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authorities about this shortly. We are encouraging them to actively promote understanding and greater use of national parks by all sections of society, especially people with disabilities, people from ethnic minorities, the inner cities and young people. We want our national parks to be appreciated fully by all sections of society as truly national assets. Defra and the Department for Education and Skills are working with national park authorities to develop initiatives to meet this aim. I also emphasised the Government's position on this policy of inclusion at a meeting with national park authorities on sustainable tourism in June 2003 so they have been aware of it for some time. I have also made clear that these ends can be achieved without excluding existing users groups and that we will encourage increased engagement of volunteers in meeting national park purposes.

National park authorities will also benefit from the findings of Defra's Diversity Review which is looking at what can be done to provide more opportunities for people who, for various reasons, have little experience of what the countryside has to offer. An action plan will be published next year. In addition, many park authorities were involved in the Mosaic Project set up by the Council for National Parks and the Black Environment Network in 2001 to enable people from black and ethnic minorities to experience the parks at first hand. The Council for National Parks recently secured lottery funding to develop this project further over the next three years.

The Government are providing adequate resources for the national park authorities. Funding for the authorities in 2005–06 is 51 per cent. above the 2001–02 level. Each authority receives £200,000 each year to run a sustainable development fund, to make grants to projects which aim to change the attitude and behaviour of individuals and communities in ways that enhance understanding of sustainable development and the role of the national park while promoting cooperation and social inclusion.

David Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether it is her policy to require national parks to discontinue activities in order to perform the new duties detailed in the guidance recently issued by her Department to national parks. [211298]

Alun Michael: Our policy is to expand interest in national parks so that they are understood by all communities, as intended, as a genuinely natural asset. Initiatives like the Mosaic project have successfully engaged members of Asian and Black communities in the attractions of visiting several national parks, but there is a long way to go. From my own experience as a youth worker in Wales and from visits to English national parks in the past nine years, I can testify to the value and impact of such visits on inner city youngsters in particular.

In expanding interest in the national parks to new groups, we have no wish whatsoever to see a reduction in the groups who already make use of these invaluable national assets and I am keen to see the engagement of volunteers expanded rather than reduced.
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In order to support the work of the national parks in England we have significantly increased the level of grant—by 51 per cent. since 2001–02—to a sum of £42.13 million in 2005–06. Also each national park has a sustainable development fund of £200,000 per year to encourage innovation with a particular emphasis on linking the concept of sustainable development to the national parks and engaging people—particularly young people—from urban and rural areas in joint projects in the national park.

Even with these additional resources the pressures on each national park is considerable. Each authority has to deal with conflicting pressures, and also identify whether any of their services are already being provided, or could be done better, by others. The introduction, later this year, of a streamlined Comprehensive Performance Assessment and Best Value regime for the national park authorities will help to identify priorities and improve cost-effectiveness.


Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps she requires to be taken in areas where declared levels of nitrogen in the air exceed accepted levels; and if she will make a statement. [210659]

Alun Michael: Actions to reduce exceedences of nitrogen dioxide, as those for many other air pollutants, are required at international, national and local level. The UK is party to a number of international obligations to reduce air pollution that requires reduction in emissions from all sectors. The Government has set out national policies to improve air quality in the Air Quality Strategy for England published in January 2000 and its Addendum published in February 2003. At local level the Government requires local authority to review and assess air quality locally and take actions (such as for example by using their traffic management powers) in cooperation with others if necessary, if they are unlikely to meet air quality objectives such as those for nitrogen dioxide; The Governments Air Quality Strategy and Guidance for Local Authority on Local Air Quality Management, including on local action planning, can be found at


Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment her Department has made of the impact of recent EU liberalisation of sugar production in its member states on (a) relations between the smaller and larger economic powers in the World Trade Organisation and (b) the economies of (i) African and (ii) Caribbean sugar producing economies; and if she will make a statement. [213235]

Alun Michael: No recent decisions have been taken on reform of the EU sugar regime. The European Commission published a Communication in July 2004 setting out its preferred approach in the light of discussion of its earlier September 2003 Communication analysing a range of possible options, including their potential impacts on international trade. In addition to providing information on these papers for UK Parliamentary Scrutiny purposes and giving evidence to
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the Efra Select Committee inquiry on sugar reform, the Government have commissioned and published independent economic research on the implications for the EU's existing preferential suppliers. Further impact assessments will be made available once the Commission comes forward with formal legislative proposals, which are not now expected until May or June.

Veterinary Surgeons Act

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she plans to review the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 with a view to introducing new legislation. [214007]

Mr. Bradshaw: This Department published its proposals to modernise the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966, in a consultation document, in September 2003. We had a positive response from a wide-range of stakeholders. A summary of the responses and an analysis has been published on our website.

We hope to introduce a new Veterinary Surgeons Bill as soon as Parliamentary time allows.

Welsh Language Scheme

Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether her Department's Welsh language scheme was approved by the Welsh Language Board; and on what date the scheme was implemented. [211331]

Alun Michael: The Defra Welsh language scheme was approved by the Welsh Language Board on 31 October 2002. As required by the terms of the scheme, Defra's scheme was implemented three months after the date above.

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