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Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much rubbish was dumped by fly-tipping in (a) Lancashire and (b) Chorley in each of the last three years. [216189]

Mr. Morley: No national data are currently available however, Flycapture, the national database for fly-tipping incidents was launched in April 2004. Flycapture data are currently being validated and will be made available once this process is complete.

Foot and Mouth

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the recent National Audit Office report on foot and mouth procedures; and what action she will take to impose more robust financial controls on compensation payments. [217086]

Mr. Bradshaw: I welcome this Report and its recommendations and am pleased to see it reflects the progress the Department has made since 2001, particularly on contingency planning, improved dialogue with stakeholders, and improving the Department's capacity and preparedness for combating another major disease outbreak. Overall the NAO consider that the Department has implemented most of the actions promised to the Committee and has made good progress on the others since 2001. I understand there are some areas requiring further work, but the Department is aware of them and working to resolve them as soon as is practicable.

We have already taken steps to control future costs of compensation for stock taken to control an outbreak of foot and mouth. These include the appointment of a new panel of valuers and four monitor valuers to ensure consistency, all of whom will be paid on a daily, rather than commission basis. Farmers will no longer appoint their own valuers.

In the long-term it is our aim to rationalise compensation arrangements for all notifiable animal diseases. As a first stage, we aim to rationalise the compensation arrangements for four cattle diseases, namely bovine TB, brucellosis, enzootic bovine leukosis
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and BSE, later this year. FMD compensation will be examined in the second round as this will require changes to primary legislation

Gangmaster (Licensing) Act

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions she has had with gangmasters on the implications of the Gangmaster (Licensing) Act 2004 for their supply chains. [217085]

Alun Michael: Both I and the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Food and Farming have met representatives of the Association of Labour Providers and individual labour providers on several occasions to discuss the implications of the Gangmaster (Licensing) Act 2004. We have also attended meetings of the Gangmaster Licensing Authority Consultative Committee, which includes representatives of the Association of Labour Providers and the Recruitment and Employment Confederation. A wide range of matters connected with the implementation of the Gangmaster (Licensing) Act and the establishment of the Licensing Authority was discussed at these meetings.

The Government welcomes the constructive role that labour providers and other stakeholder organisations have played in relation to the introduction of the new licensing arrangements. We look forward to maintaining this close relationship as the detail of the licensing scheme is developed and will ensure labour providers will continue to be consulted fully before the arrangements are finalised. We remain on course to establish the Gangmaster (Licensing) Authority in April and hope to be able to start processing licence applications before the end of the year.

Land Degradation

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps are being taken to reverse long-term land degradation. [215892]

Mr. Morley: A wide range of measures address land condition. Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 was brought into force in April 2000 to address in particular the legacy of historic contamination, where this poses unacceptable risk to human health or the environment. Local authorities are now identifying contaminated land in their area, and ensuring that appropriate remedial action is taken.

Such remediation also takes place as part and parcel of the development of land, and is secured through the planning system, which aims to encourage the redevelopment and beneficial re-use of previously developed land. Last autumn, new planning guidance (PPS23—Planning and Pollution Control") was issued by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, which aims to assist in the remediation of contaminated land through the process of development. A new Land Restoration Trust has been set up.

We have published a Soil Action Plan to help tackle the various risks and threats to soil. The plan is informed by key European initiatives such as the Water Framework Directive and work towards a European Thematic Strategy for Soil Protection. The EU Thematic Strategy identifies contamination, erosion
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and organic matter as three priority issues for soils and is also developing overarching plans for soil monitoring and R and D.

Under the Single Payment Scheme land managers are required to demonstrate that they are keeping the land in Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition (GAEC). GAEC standards, set specifically for England, apply to soil management and protection and to the maintenance of habitats and landscape features.

In the built environment soil degradation and erosion caused by construction activities can be a serious issue, particularly in terms of pollution of water resources. Defra is working with the construction industry to identify and address gaps in knowledge.

Within the suite of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), notified for their conservation importance in England, degraded habitats will be addressed by our PSA target to have 95 per cent. of the SSSI area in favourable condition by 2010.

Defra will shortly be launching the new Environmental Stewardship Scheme which will replace the existing Countryside Stewardship and Environmentally Sensitive Areas Schemes. The new scheme will focus on natural resource protection, in addition to the primary objectives of the existing schemes, namely wildlife conservation; maintenance and enhancement of landscape quality and character; protection of the historic environment; and the promotion of access of the countryside. This will include measures to help protect watercourses and sensitive habitats by reducing diffuse pollution and soil erosion.


Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the responsibility of Chorley council to provide recycling facilities. [216190]

Mr. Morley: Government have set each local authority in England Statutory Performance Standards for recycling and composting of household waste for 2003–04 and 2005–06. In addition, the Household Waste Recycling Act 2003 requires waste collection authorities—subject to certain exemptions—to provide a kerbside collection service of at least two recyclable materials by 2010. It is local authorities' responsibility to decide the type of recycling facilities that should be provided, taking into account local circumstances, to help them meet the Standards and the requirements of the Act.

Rural Bus Services

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much was given in grants to rural bus services by the Countryside Agency in each year since 1997; and what plans she has to continue such grants. [201604]

Margaret Beckett: The Countryside Agency has undertaken a variety of time-linked pilot programmes on behalf of Government and has contributed to rural bus services on our behalf through the Rural Transport
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Partnership and Parish Transport schemes. The Agency's database does not record information to distinguish funding for rural bus services from other grants to support other local transport needs within those schemes. Information about grants made in 1997–98, made by the Countryside Agency's predecessor, the Countryside Commission, is no longer available.

In 2004–05, the Department for Transport is making £51 million available for rural bus services through Rural Bus Subsidy Grant to bus companies and local authorities to maintain services which would otherwise be uneconomic. This is an increase from £48.5 million in 2003–04. The Department for Transport's annual Rural Bus Challenge competitions have also made a total of 301 awards amounting to £110 million over the last six years.

Since 1999 grants given each year to local transport initiatives in rural areas through the Rural Transport Partnership and Parish Transport Grant schemes are as follows:
£ million

Rural transport partnership scheme(1)Parish transport scheme(1)Total

(1)Funding until 2001 from the Countryside Commission's Rural Transport Partnership scheme and Rural Transport Development Fund.
(2)Figure not yet available.
(3)To date.

On 1 April 2004, the Countryside Agency closed the Rural Transport Partnership and Parish Transport schemes to new grant applications although existing commitments will continue to be met.

From 1 April 2005, Defra will devolve delivery of economic and social regeneration policies to the Regional Development Agencies. This includes areas of activity such as those formerly covered by the Countryside Agency's transport schemes. We have also charged the Regional Development Agencies with contributing to the delivery of our Public Service Agreement target to improve the accessibility of services for people in rural England. In recognition of their larger role in the delivery of Defra's policies, Defra has given the Regional Development Agencies an additional £21.3 million per annum for the years 2005–06 to 2007–08.

We are discussing with the Regional Development Agencies what they will deliver and how it will be measured, to be included in their Tasking Framework. Defra expects them, in partnership with local government and others, to ensure that the needs of people in rural communities are addressed, through regional level strategies and delivery. But it will be for each Development Agency to determine the priorities for its region and, through their corporate plans, how they will achieve their agreed outcomes.
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