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7 Apr 2005 : Column 1660W—continued

Green Lanes

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will ensure that the new Government policy and guidance on the vehicular use of green lanes outlined in Making the Best Byways' is open to public consultation for a 12-week period. [224876]

Alun Michael: Formal public consultation is more commonly carried out on policy or legislative proposals. Making the Best of Byways" is intended as practical guidance. The draft revision was put together with the help of an advisory group including representatives from the Ramblers Association, Sustrans, the British Horse Society, English Nature, the Countryside Agency and the Countryside Council for Wales. The draft revision was also circulated for comment to a range of interest groups.

Hazardous Waste

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many UK hazardous waste landfills are licensed to receive contaminated soils. [224569]

Mr. Morley: There are nine authorised commercial hazardous landfill sites in England and Wales. Eight of these are authorised under Pollution Prevention and Control permits and the ninth is authorised under a Waste Management Licence.

All of these landfill sites are currently operational and able to receive hazardous contaminated soils.


Mr. Sheerman: 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 the Huddersfield constituency, the effects on Huddersfield of her Department's policies and actions since 2 May 1997. [216869]

Alun Michael: Defra publishes a wide range of statistical information relating to its policies and actions and the following web address will take you directly to the service: asp. In addition, the Office of National Statistics also publishes further information that you can access from its website:
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Since its establishment in 2001 Defra has put in place a comprehensive programme of action on issues including sustainable development, climate change and .energy, sustainable consumption and production, natural resource protection, sustainable rural communities, and a sustainable farming and food sector. I am confident that the Huddersfield constituency will have benefited from these but it is not possible to systematically quantify those benefits to a constituency level. The difficulties of such geographical analyses are set out by the Office of National Statistics at the following address:

The following information may help provide a word picture" of the way Defra's work benefits Huddersfield.

Waste: 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. To help local authorities achieve their own targets Defra's Waste Minimisation Fund was set up in 2002. As a result of successful bids for money from this fund by Kirklees metropolitan council a total of almost £1.2 million was used for projects which have seen extra green wheeled bins being provided to 140,000 households across Kirklees, including Huddersfield itself. This, together with a waste reduction and reuse awareness raising campaign, also funded by Defra, has enabled Kirklees to double its recycling and composting rate from 7 per cent. in 1998–99 to reach its statutory target of 14 per cent. in 2003–04.

River Water Quality has improved along the Kirklees rivers, including the Rivers Colne and Holme in Huddersfield over recent years. While 75 per cent. of the rivers' lengths within the Kirklees area were already considered to be of fair or better chemical quality in 1997, by 2003 this had risen to 95 per cent. The improvements in the biological quality of the rivers has been even more rapid with the percentage of river length of fair quality or better rising from 4.0 per cent. in 1995 to 75 per cent. in 2003. These improvements reflect Defra's policy to improve river water quality, which is one of the headline indicators of sustainable development and to raise compliance with the EC water framework directive.

Flood Defences: With grant support from Defra the Environment Agency has undertaken maintenance and improvement of flood defences around the Huddersfield area and has invested £30 million in new defences in the past 10–15 years across Kirklees as a whole. The Environment Agency also now offers a flood warning service for residents and businesses at high and medium risk of flooding through Huddersfield.

Rural Environment: The most important agri-environment scheme delivered by Defra's Rural Development Service in the Huddersfield area constituency is the Countryside Stewardship Scheme (CSS). It aims are to help to conserve and improve the rural environment. There are three CSS agreements in the constituency; the total area of land on these three holdings is 123.42ha, of which 22.12ha is under agreement. In terms of specific payments we have been able to isolate expenditure under the common agricultural policy and a list of payments by
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constituency is available in the Library of the House following the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Knowsley North and Sefton East (Mr. Howarth) on 4 April 2005, Official Report, columns 1149–50W. It is noted in these figures that payments to customers are reported on the basis of requested business address which may differ from the location of farming activity.

Common Agricultural Policy

Payments to farm-based schemes in the Huddersfield constituency for the 2004 European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF) accounting year which ran from 16 October 2003 to 15 October 2004 amount to £146,410.85.

The schemes included are the Arable Area Payment, Beef Special Premium, Suckler Cow Premium, Extensification Premium, Slaughter Premium, Sheep Annual Premium, Over Thirty Months Slaughter, England Rural Development Programme and Structural Funds (which are monies made available by EAGGF to contribute to the economic development of disadvantaged regions within Europe).


Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many litter abatement orders have been served. [224975]

Alun Michael: We cannot provide comprehensive figures since there is no requirement for the service of litter abatement orders to be reported to Defra, but we are aware that at least one abatement order has been served.

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps an individual can take to encourage local authorities to fulfil their responsibilities in relation to litter and detritus. [224976]

Alun Michael: Under section 91 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, an individual can complain to a magistrates court if aggrieved by the defacement, by litter or refuse, of land that a local authority has a duty to keep clear under section 89 of that Act. If the magistrates are satisfied that the land in question is defaced, they can issue a litter abatement order requiring the local authority to clear the land of litter and refuse within a time specified in the order. It is an offence to fail to comply with a litter abatement order.

An individual can also complain to a local authority using its standard complaint procedures. Many local authorities have set up call centres or hotlines to which their residents can report local environmental quality issues. If the local authority does not have a complaints procedure, or the individual is not satisfied with the action the council takes, he or she can complain to the Local Government Ombudsman who investigates maladministration by local authorities.

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions she has had with her Department's agencies on measures to tackle litter in the countryside. [224978]

Alun Michael: The appropriate agencies were consulted about the measures in the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Bill, but there have
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been no discussions with them specifically on litter, which is primarily the responsibility of local authorities. The Department sponsors ENCAMS to promote campaigning on environmental issues, including campaigns to combat litter and ENCAMS works closely with local government on such issues. The Department has increased support for ENCAMS in parallel to providing additional tools to local authorities to enable them to increase their effectiveness in tackling local environmental issues including litter.

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions she has had with companies that use large quantities of food wrapping paper on (a) mechanisms to persuade customers not to cause litter and (b) using biodegradable materials to reduce litter. [224980]

Mr. Morley: On 22 November 2004 the Government launched its Voluntary Code of Practice for Food on the Go'—the aim of which is to reduce the amount of food related waste that becomes litter in the local environment. This followed over two years of extensive research into the problem and detailed consultation with both businesses that sell food for immediate consumption, and the industry bodies that represent them.

The voluntary code sets out a series of recommendations for joint action between businesses and local authorities. These include measures to minimise packaging by using biodegradable materials in its production, asking customers if they require a bag, and displaying anti littering messaging on packaging. This is complemented by recommendations on the implementation of education and community engagement initiatives, and the local authority's enforcement regime.

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