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6 Apr 2005 : Column 1522W—continued

CAP Payments

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many complaints she has received concerning the decision to publish information on former details of Common Agricultural Policy payments under the Freedom of Information legislation. [224054]

Alun Michael: At close of business on 29 March the Rural Payments Agency's Access to Information Unit had received approximately 2,500 representations concerning the decision to publish information on Common Agricultural Policy payments. The great majority of these were opposed to publication. The Government takes the view that it is in the public interest and consistent with the principles on Freedom of Information, for the information to be in the public domain.
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Carbon Emissions

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps she is taking to ensure compliance with the Government's commitment to reduce carbon emissions by 20 per cent. [224743]

Mr. Morley: The Spending Review 2004 reconfirmed Defra's public service agreement (PSA) target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 12.5 per cent. below 1990 levels in line with our Kyoto commitment and to move towards a 20 per cent. reduction in carbon dioxide emissions below 1990 levels by 2010. The PSA target is shared jointly with the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department for Transport.

The UK Climate Change Programme published in 2000 sets out the Government's approach to tackling climate change. It contains policies and measures intended to achieve the emissions reductions necessary to deliver the UK's commitment under the Kyoto Protocol and move towards the national goal of a 20 per cent. reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. Progress towards the Kyoto Protocol commitment and our national goal are discussed by Ministers regularly, in particular through the Sustainable Energy Policy Network (SEPN), whose Ministerial Group, which is jointly chaired by the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, oversees the delivery of the Energy White Paper commitments and the current review of the UK Climate Change Programme. The .review of the UK Climate Change Programme provides an opportunity for the Government to look carefully at whether to introduce new policies and measures, and/or strengthen existing ones, to put us back on track towards the national goal.

Countryside and Rights of Way Act (Yorkshire)

Hugh Bayley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what parts of (a) York and (b) North Yorkshire have been opened to the public by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. [224642]

Alun Michael: The Countryside Agency, in England, is required by Part I of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (the Act) to prepare, in turn, draft, provisional and conclusive maps of open country (mountain, moor, heath and down) and registered common land to which the public will have a new right of open access on foot. In order to map such land, the Countryside Agency divided England into eight mapping areas. These mapping areas are based on national park and local authority boundaries rather than traditional county boundaries. The Countryside Agency is mapping sequentially around the eight areas and the new right of access is being introduced in each area once the mapping exercise has been completed. We are on track to introduce the new right across England by the end of this year.

The county of North Yorkshire has land included in four different mapping areas: Lower North West; Upper North West; North East; and East (which includes the City of York). To date, the new right of access has commenced in one of these areas, the Lower North
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West, and, as a result, the new right of access currently applies to 4,884 hectares of land in North Yorkshire. Maps showing where the right of access applies in England are displayed on the Countryside Agency's website:

Information on the amount of access land opened to the public in the rest of North Yorkshire (including the City of York) will become available once all the conclusive maps are available, later this year.

Dairy Farming (Lancashire)

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much milk was produced in (a) Lancashire and (b) Chorley in each of the last three years; and how much was (i) sold as milk and (ii) processed for cheese in each case. [223794]

Alun Michael: Precise estimates of milk production in Lancashire and Chorley are not readily available. The milk production figures given in the table provide broad estimates based on multiplying the average UK milk yield per cow by the number of cows in the specified region. The cow numbers for 2004 are not yet available.

Milk utilisation figures are only available at national level. Therefore the proportion of milk produced in Lancashire and Chorley sold as liquid milk and processed for cheese is not available.
Estimated milk production

RegionNumber of dairy cowsAverage yield per cow (UK) litresEstimated milk production m/litres
Lancashire CC(27)77,145512
Lancashire CC(27)78,498521
Lancashire CC(27)83,402553

(27) The figures for Lancashire CC includes Chorley, but excludes Blackburn with Darwen and Blackpool.

Departmental Budget

Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the planned (a) capital and (b) resource budget for her Department is for 2011–12. [223439]

Alun Michael: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him by my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury on 4 April 2005, Official Report, column 1170W.

Departmental Policies (Pendle)

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will set out, with statistical information relating as directly as possible to Pendle constituency, the effects on Pendle of her Department's policies and activities since 2 May 1997. [215009]

Alun Michael: Since its establishment in 2001 Defra has put in place a comprehensive programme of action on issues including sustainable development, climate
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change and energy, sustainable consumption and production, natural resource protection, sustainable rural communities, and a sustainable farming and food sector. A summary of our achievements to date can be found at http://defra/corporate/achievements.htm. I am confident that the Pendle constituency will have benefited from these. Through our national strategy for waste we are committed to delivering a step change to more sustainable waste management, including tough national targets to recycle or compost 17 per cent. of household waste by 2003–04 and 25 per cent. by 2005–06.

Since 2001, Defra has established a number of funding mechanisms to help local authorities achieve their targets. As a result of allocations from these funds the residents of Pendle should reap the benefits over the next few years. Since 2001 a total of £723,436 has been awarded to the borough to expand kerbside recycling schemes.

In March 2005 we announced that Lancashire is to be as one of eight rural pathfinders in England. The pathfinder initiative is a key part of the Government's Rural Strategy and reflects the Government's commitment to devolve decision-making and resources to the local level. The Lancashire rural pathfinder will ensure greater co-ordination of rural delivery programmes testing new and innovative methods to bring about improvements in the delivery of services to rural communities and businesses.

Defra provides comprehensive statistical information. The following web address will take you directly to the service:

Environmental Standards

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures are being taken to ensure that high environmental standards do not conflict with industrial competitiveness. [222384]

Mr. Morley: Contrary to some views, there is no need for high environmental standards to conflict with industrial competitiveness or economic success. In many cases, high environmental standards can bring both the benefits of a good environment and direct economic benefits to sectors of industry. Well designed environmental regulation can be a stimulus to innovation and industrial efficiency.

Defra's aim is sustainable development, which means a better quality of life for everyone. We understand that quality of life is dependent on a strong, fair society, economic prosperity and the quality of people's current and future environment.

In all the policy making that we undertake, we therefore attempt to properly balance the effects of our policies on each of the social, economic and environment areas and to maximise the net benefit—so that each of our policies take the country closer to sustainable development. Ensuring the UK has industries that can trade competitively in international markets is a key part of maintaining economic prosperity in the UK.
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Policy proposals pass through an option appraisal,—the regulatory impact assessment—looking at the net costs and benefits of each option proposed. This includes the benefits and costs which do not have a market value (for example, ecosystems) and will include the impacts on competitiveness. In many cases, the benefits of policy in one area—for example an improvement of people's environmental quality—are traded off against smaller costs in others, for example costs to consumers to particular service. That is very different to an impact on the UK's competitiveness.

The Government take the issue of impacts on competitiveness very seriously. Nevertheless, it is not easy to predict the impact of any policy on competitiveness of the UK as a whole—the dynamic effects of any stimulus rely on complex interactions. To appraise impacts on competitiveness—rather than just the static impacts on any industry which are already appraised—the Government are developing a methodology for use in cost-benefit analysis. Defra is fully committed to using this methodology to take better account of any impacts, good or bad, or our policy on competitiveness.

Defra therefore is serious about setting goals with net benefits for the UK and achieving those goals in the most efficient way, maximising benefits and reducing costs.

Most environmental legislation comes from Brussels. We are influential in shaping that policy to meet our broad sustainable development goals. Pushing the better regulation agenda—to increase the efficiency of policy, set appropriately balanced goals and reduce unnecessary burden on business—is one of our five priorities for our presidency of the Council during 2005. We are already seeing success in the use of better impact assessments and simplification of existing measures.

Further, my Department is leading the way in Whitehall in reducing the administrative burden of regulation, something that may impact on the UK's competitiveness. We have committed to reducing the information and form filling burden on those industries we regulate by 25 per cent. of the next five years.

The impacts of policy on industrial sectors depend significantly on the regulation and inspection of firms and individuals by the agencies and bodies responsible for that task. My Department continues to work with its sponsored delivery bodies to cut unnecessary administrative burden, a process which will lead, amongst other things, to a consolidation of functions over the next four years.

These are only some of the steps that my department will be taking to meet the joint goals of economic prosperity and high environmental standards.

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