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24 Mar 2005 : Column 923W—continued


Abandoned Cars

Mr. Gill: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much has been spent on dealing with abandoned cars in (a) Leicester and (b) England since 1997. [223642]

Alun Michael: The Defra Abandoned Vehicle Survey of 2002–03 reported that 111,000 was spent on the abandoned vehicle service in Leicester City. Over the same period it is estimated that the cost for England as whole was £26.9 million. We do not hold figures for other years.


Jon Trickett: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether she publishes data for the number of accidents at work involving employees of her Department; and if she will make a statement. [222587]

Alun Michael: Defra's Departmental Health and Safety Unit publish an annual report each April, which gives detail on all aspects of the core-Department's safety performance, including accident statistics. The agency safety advisers also provide this data for their own agency reports. Historically, the Defra departmental report has also published data for the number of accidents at work involving employees of the Department.

Jon Trickett: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what arrangements for monitoring accidents at work involving members of staff of her Department are in place; and if she will make a statement. [222618]

Alun Michael: Within the core-Department accident reports are collated centrally by the Departmental Health and Safety Unit. These are investigated by the internal health and safety specialists and the risk assessments relating to that activity form part of the investigation. A formal programme of auditing is undertaken in order to spot any accident/ill-health trends and focus risk management arrangements to reduce accidents/incidents.

Under current policy line managers must investigate each incident in relation to the effectiveness of their health and safety procedures and monitor all such reports in relation to their local risk assessment programme.
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Defra agencies have equivalent accident reporting procedures and monitoring arrangements in compliance with the Defra Safety Policy.

Area Aid

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the level of area aid scheme inaccuracy was as a percentage of total claims in each EU country in the last year for which figures are available. [222976]

Alun Michael: The following table shows IACS inspection results on declarations of area for 2002 (relating to claims paid in 2003).
Member stateApplications with errors (percentages)
Total 20021.7

Figures taken from the European Court of Auditors Annual Report concerning the financial year 2003.


Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will take steps to ensure that under the proposed EU directive 2004/28/EC on Veterinary Medicines (a) medicines available to beekeepers for the treatment of pests and diseases will be exempt from the regulations set out and will not require a prescription and (b) the proposed inspectors will be qualified experts who provide and use antibiotics in the treatment of disease and not veterinary surgeons who have no training in bee health. [221410]

Mr. Bradshaw: The amending directive, 2004/28/EC, was published by the European Commission on 30 April 2004 following a major review of EU medicines legislation. Member states are required to implement its provisions by 30 October 2005. It includes a provision requiring all medicines for food-producing animals, including bees, to be available only on veterinary prescription.

This provision was introduced with the intention of strengthening the control of these medicines and related consumer safeguards. While there are valid reasons for restricting some veterinary medicines to prescription supply, we do not consider this appropriate for all medicines for use in food-producing animals. Neither the Commission, nor the majority of member states supported the UK view and the requirement was consequently included in the amending directive.
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However, the UK successfully negotiated the inclusion of a provision that allows medicines that meet certain criteria, to be agreed subsequently, to be exempt from the prescription requirement. This provision also allows the current distribution arrangements to remain until a list of exemption criteria is agreed, or until January 2007 if no list has been agreed by then. The exemption list is to be proposed by the Commission and voted on by the member states. We are well aware of concerns expressed by UK beekeepers and will continue to argue strongly for medicines for routine use in bees that do not meet any of the other criteria for prescription only status to be included on the list.

In addition to pressing for routine bee medicines to be exempted from the prescription requirement, we have proposed new distribution categories for the UK that include tiered categories of prescription only medicines. If adopted, these will comply with the directive's provisions while allowing most medicines for food-producing animals that are currently available without prescription to be supplied by pharmacists or suitably qualified persons without the need to involve a veterinary surgeon.

Antimicrobial resistance is a serious problem in human medicine resulting in increasing concerns about the use of antimicrobial products, including antibiotics, in human medicine, veterinary medicine, agriculture and horticulture. It is therefore likely that any veterinary medicines containing antibiotics will be under veterinary control. There is one antibiotic authorised for use in bees, for the treatment of Nosema. Officials at the Veterinary Medicines Directorate will be discussing how this antibiotic is to be supplied with beekeeper representatives.

Betton Abbots Landfill Site

Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the long-term viability of the Betton Abbots landfill site. [223150]

Mr. Morley: Betton Abbots landfill site is operated by Shropshire Waste Management (SWM). In 2002, SWM applied to the Environment Agency for a permit under the provisions of the Pollution Prevention and Control (PPC) Regulations to significantly extend the existing site. As part of the application process the company needed to demonstrate that the underlying groundwater resources would not be affected.

A survey carried out by SWM for the extension of the landfill demonstrated that the geology beneath the site is primarily sandstone, which contains a major aquifer. Environment Agency guidance, based on the requirements of the EU Landfill Directive, precludes the authorisation of any new landfill sites located on major aquifers unless substantial low permeable barriers such as certain types of clay protect them. This does not exist at Betton Abbots and as a consequence SWM have withdrawn their permit application.

In addition to the pollution control issues, there are outstanding planning issues before the site could be considered for further importation of waste materials, these relate mainly to the provision of a new road into the site.
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Carbon Emissions (National Allocation Plan)

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what criteria she used in making the decision that 736 million tonnes of carbon emissions was appropriate for the National Allocation Plan; for what reasons steps were taken to increase the amount to 756 million tonnes; and what assessment she has made of the impact of not achieving the increase. [223500]

Mr. Morley: The provisional total of 736 million tonnes included in the UK's National Allocation Plan was calculated by estimating the projected emissions from the sectors covered by the EU ETS and subtracting the additional savings of 5.5 MtCO 2 which the Government decided the EU ETS would deliver. This calculation was based on provisional emission projections and this was made clear when submitting the UK's National Allocation Plan (NAP) to the European Commission in April 2004.

Following the finalisation of emissions projections and Climate Change Agreement targets UK emissions for the period 2005–07 are now estimated to be around 56 MtCO 2 higher than in April last year. These latest projections are more consistent with recent historic emissions levels.

Rather than increase the total by that amount, the UK proposed to increase the total number of allowances by around 20 million to 756 million, which ensures that the UK strikes a balance between the concerns of business about potential competitiveness impacts and the UK's leadership on climate change. However, the Commission has made it clear that it does not consider that the provisional total of 736 million allowances can be exceeded and is not prepared to consider any increase.

On 11 March the Government announced their intention to issue allowances in line with the NAP approved by the Commission (736 million) as soon as possible to allow operators to fully participate in the EU ETS, while initiating legal proceedings against the Commission, seeking to require the Commission to consider the substance of the amendment.

In accordance with earlier announcements, the additional reduction will be taken from the electricity supply industry. As this industry is more insulated from international competition than others, this approach will have less of an impact on UK competitiveness than reducing the allocation to other industries. The Government do not expect this approach will have a material impact on electricity prices which will reflect the price of allowances in the EU-wide market, rather than the number of allowances allocated free to generators. In the event of a successful challenge, the additional allowances would be distributed between the installations in the Electricity Supply Industry (ESI) sector.

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