Previous Section Index Home Page

24 Mar 2005 : Column 931W—continued

G8 Environment and Development Ministers Meeting

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what matters were (a) discussed and (b) agreed at the special joint meeting of G8 Environment and Development Ministers in Derby on 16–17 March; if she will (i) post on the departmental website and (ii) place in the Library copies of (A) papers submitted and (B) the final declaration of the meeting; and if she will make a statement. [223581]

Mr. Morley: At the G8 Environment and Development Ministerial on 17–18 March Ministers met to discuss climate change in Africa and action to tackle illegal logging and had informal discussions on the Commission for Africa Report, reform of humanitarian aid and the importance of biodiversity for sustainable livelihoods. Ministers also met with civil society representatives.

Ministers agreed that African countries are particularly vulnerable to climate variability and climate change and discussed what more needed to be done, including assistance to reduce vulnerability by building resilience to climate variability and by developing capacity to adapt to climate change. Ministers then identified the key elements needed for an effective international response as building scientific capacity and integrating measures to address the impact of climate change in international development assistance and regional and national development plans. The vulnerability of developing countries to climate change in Africa and throughout the developing world will be discussed by Heads of State and Government at the Gleneagles summit in July.

G8 Ministers agreed that further action was needed to help support timber producing countries to improve governance of their forest resources and tackle wildlife trafficking and to deal with the demand for illegally logged timber, including action to halt the import and marketing of such timber, and using public procurement policies. Ministers also agreed that illegal logging policy experts would meet to review progress towards these commitments in 2006.

Copies of the papers for and outcomes from the ministerial will be placed in the Library of the House and on the Defra website.

Inspection and Enforcement Costs

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the cost of inspection and enforcement activities carried out by (a) her Department and (b) regulatory bodies and agencies sponsored by her Department was in (i) 1996–97 and (ii) 2003–04. [217778]

Alun Michael: The information requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
24 Mar 2005 : Column 932W

Plastic Waste

Mr. Edward Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps the Government is taking to encourage (a) retailers and (b) manufacturers to reduce the amount of plastic waste produced in the UK. [223539]

Mr. Morley: The Government are taking a number of measures to reduce the amount of waste produced, including plastic waste.

The Government-funded Envirowise programme offers UK businesses free advice and support on practical ways to minimise their waste and reduce their environmental impact.

Additional revenue generated from increases to the landfill tax will be redistributed to business through the Business Resource Efficiency and Waste (BREW) programme to encourage and support resource efficiency, waste minimisation and diversion of waste away from landfill.

As part of their Retailer Initiative, the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) are working with retailers to reduce waste from supermarkets. Part of this work is looking at design issues around packaging and the scope for reduction.

There are two sets of regulations that encourage producers and retailers to minimise packaging. The Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 1997 (as amended) are intended to increase the recovery and recycling of packaging waste and incorporate a cost incentive to reduce the overall amount of packaging. The Packaging (Essential Requirements) Regulations 2003 place a number of requirements on all packaging placed on the market in the UK, including a requirement that packaging should be manufactured so that the packaging volume and weight are limited to the minimum adequate amount to maintain the necessary level of safety, hygiene and acceptance for the packed product and for the consumer.

Protected Birds

Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to extend the protected bird species listed in Schedule 4 to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981; and if she will make a statement. [221457]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 23 March 2005]: In 2002 Defra carried out a full public consultation on the bird registration scheme with the key results that the scheme be retained with some minor changes to the administration process and that a study be commissioned by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) firstly to agree scientific criteria for including species on Schedule 4 and then to apply those criteria to candidate species.

The study has now been completed and the recommendations in their report are likely to form the basis for a full public consultation where interested parties will be invited to comment on the proposals and to submit further evidence for consideration.
24 Mar 2005 : Column 933W

Single Farm Payment

Mr. Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what impact she expects the delay in the single farm payment to have on smaller farmers. [222298]

Alun Michael: The Rural Payments Agency has announced that it expects to begin payments under the single payment scheme in February 2006, well before the deadline of 30 June 2006 set in EU legislation. To the extent that farmers have made plans based on receiving a payment earlier, they may face cash-flow problems. Whether that happens in practice depends very much on the individual circumstances of the farm business rather than its size.

Mr. McLoughlin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what criteria were used to define severely disadvantaged areas; and for what reason the Moorland Line was not used in determining areas eligible for the lower rate of the single farm payment. [222463]

Alun Michael: The severely disadvantaged areas (SDAs) form part of the less favoured areas (LFAs) of the UK as listed in EU Council Directive 84/169/EEC. The LFAs are further divided for domestic purposes between SDAs and disadvantaged areas (DAs), the distinction being one of degree, most significantly of land quality. Upland SDAs are disadvantaged relative to non-SDA land in respect of a number of handicaps. These include higher altitude, harsher climate with a shorter growing season, low soil fertility, difficult topography, and remoteness.

Both the SDAs and the Moorland Line have been taken into account in establishing English areas for the purpose of the single payment scheme (SPS.) In view of the considerable redistributional effects that would flow from a single flat rate payment under the SPS, it was initially concluded that England would be divided into two areas, SDAs and other land. However, following representations from a number of key stakeholders (including the NFU and the CLA) this has been amended so that the area boundaries that will apply in England divide the country into three, broadly corresponding to land types and still using existing boundaries. One area comprises the upland severely disadvantaged area (SDA), another the Moorland Line within the SDA and the third area will be all land outside the SDA.

Surplus Assets Sales

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the value of sales of surplus assets from her Department was in each year since 2000–01. [220973]

Alun Michael: The following table shows the value of sales of surplus assets in fiscal years since the Department was formed in 2001, up to 31 January 2005 in the current year. There are no figures provided for Defra's predecessor Departments as this information could be provided only by incurring disproportionate cost.
24 Mar 2005 : Column 934W


(13) to 31 January 2005

This information is included in departmental Resource Accounts, copies of which are normally available in the Library.

Next Section Index Home Page