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Livestock Burial

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what action she is taking against those farmers who continue to engage in on-farm burial of livestock. [224808]

Mr. Bradshaw: The scheme is voluntary and farmers may dispose of their fallen stock outside of the scheme providing the method used meets with the requirements of the Animal By-Products Regulation" (Regulation (EC) No. 1774/2002).

Where on-farm burial continues we would expect local enforcement agencies to investigate and, where necessary, take appropriate action against the person or persons responsible.


Mr. Beith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when the Department's proposed prohibition on the landing of berried hen lobsters is planned to come into force; whether she is still considering representations on this issue; and what assessment she has made of whether the scheme is needed in areas where the landing of v-notched or multilateral lobsters is prohibited. [223977]

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Mr. Bradshaw: I announced my intention to ban the landing, carriage and storage of berried lobsters last year. A technical consultation will take place shortly with interested parties.

I know that there is support for the continuation of local v-notch schemes (where mature female lobsters are given protection through a notch being cut in the shell, and it being illegal to land such a lobster), either in conjunction with, or instead of this ban. We are currently preparing draft legislation for consultation with a view to ensuring that this ban will not preclude the continuation of local v-notch schemes.

Milk Quota

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether she expects that the UK will be able to fulfil its milk quota for the last financial year; and if she will make a statement. [224804]

Alun Michael: Although the quota year ended on 31 March, the Rural Payments Agency will not know the final position on milk supply against quota until July. This is because there has been the usual end-of-year quota transfer activity and all of these transfers have to be processed. Once this has been done, milk purchasers and direct sellers have to provide details of production. Temporary conversions of quota (from wholesale to direct sale and vice versa) have to be processed, and finally any spare quota will be reallocated to producers who have been affected by herd restrictions (such as those producers who have herds affected by TB).

Once all of these processes have been completed the Rural Payments Agency will issue a statement on whether production has met quota and whether a levy is due.

Ministerial Engagements

Geraldine Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if the Minister for Nature Conservation and Fisheries will list his official engagements up to the Easter recess. [215858]

Margaret Beckett [holding answer 10 February 2005]: The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is to place on its website at regular intervals lists of the official public engagements undertaken by all Defra Ministers. Details of future engagements are not normally released for security reasons.


Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how the operations of Nirex will be (a) overseen and (b) funded under the new management arrangements. [224848]

Mr. Morley: Since 1 April 2005, the shares of United Kingdom Nirex Limited (Nirex) have been held by a new company limited by guarantee (CLG), jointly owned by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Department of Trade and Industry. The CLG board will oversee the operations of Nirex in accordance with a business plan agreed with the company each year. Day-to-day management of Nirex,
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in accordance with the business plan, will be the responsibility of the Nirex board. Under the new arrangements over 90 per cent. of the funding for Nirex work will be provided under a contract with the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), with the remainder coming from the continuing memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Defence, and individual contracts with waste producers for advice on its conditioning and packaging.

North Durham

Mr. Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will set out, including statistical information relating as directly as possible to the constituency, the effect on North Durham constituency of her Department's policies since June 2001. [214470]

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:

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 North Durham 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 North Durham.

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. The districts of Chester le Street and Derwentside continue to make a contribution to achieving these national recycling targets and have exceeded regional targets set at 10 per cent. for 2003–04. The districts' recycling performance in 2003–04, the most recent year for which data is available, were 12 per cent. and 14 per cent. respectively, an improvement for each council of 5 per cent.

The policy initiatives flowing from the Rural White Paper had a major impact on people in rural and urban fringe locations. North Durham constituents will have benefited from a living, working and vibrant countryside surrounding the towns of Stanley and Chester le Street. The Rural Strategy published in July 2004, builds on the success of the White Paper and aims to give the people of North Durham a greater say in the delivery of services.
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The Modernising Rural Delivery pathfinder initiative is a key part of the Government's Rural Strategy and is designed to test and share, at a local authority level, good practice on the Government's commitment to devolve decision-making and resources to the local level. In October, I announced seven rural pathfinders in England, and I announced the final pathfinder in the West Durham area more recently. The North East 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. Whilst not directly located in the pathfinder area, I expect that the lessons learned will be shared across the constituency, the North East Region and nationally.

West County Durham is an area steeped in a rich social, industrial and natural heritage. I am pleased that the Department is involved in the Mineral Valleys Project", which covers an area of 89,000 hectares, aims to use environment-led regeneration to help local communities celebrate their heritage whilst enhancing the environment around them. The Mineral Valleys Partnership that includes 50 businesses, statutory, community and voluntary organisations, led by English Nature and supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, has been successful in putting a £5.2 million programme together to make this vision a reality. This exciting project has resulted in a number of positive environmental outcomes for the constituency including the Saving Stanley Burn and Woods Project, an Otter Holt at Chester le Street and the creation of wetland at Chester Moor.

In terms of specific payments we have been able to isolate expenditure under the common agricultural policy and a list of payments by 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 North Durham 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 £1,031,592.59.

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).

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