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13 Jun 2005 : Column 41W—continued


Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for what reasons the Meat and Livestock Commission was chosen to be the body responsible for collecting data from markets for the purpose of the introduction of the new table valuations system. [2568]

Mr. Bradshaw: The Meat and Livestock Commission (MLC) have been contracted by Defra, for some time, to provide sales data for store cattle and this contract was due to end on 31 March 2005. However, for business continuity reasons, a decision was taken to extend the agreement for a further year. To support the proposed new table valuation system, Defra, in extending the existing contract, also took the opportunity to require the MLC to expand the range of sales data collected, and significantly increase the number of data sources.

A new contract for this work will be tendered to suitable companies later this year.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many owners who lost stock due to disease breakdown have been overpaid due to overvaluation of that stock in each of the last five years. [2567]

Mr. Bradshaw: It is not possible to give a precise figure for the number of cattle owners that have received excessive compensation as a result of a TB breakdown. However, the evidence for overcompensation is extensive and includes: a National Audit Office (Wales) study, which concluded both that compensation payments in South Wales were between 50 and 100 per cent. higher than comparable 'free market' values and also that there was a significant overcompensation problem in South West England, and two Defra internal audit studies which also concluded that over-compensation was a significant problem in England.

Furthermore, a separate report by the University of Reading concluded that a significant number of beef farms, and some dairy farms, showed a net financial benefit associated with their TB breakdown. This suggested that
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some farmers were being over-compensated by significant amounts, including consequential losses, which are illegal under the compensation scheme.

Low-frequency Noise

Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will revise the advice given to local authorities on handling complaints relating to low-frequency noise to assist them in detecting the source of low-frequency noise. [2721]

Mr. Bradshaw: The Department published University of Salford guidance for local authorities on its website on 24 May which provides a methodology for assessing complaints of low frequency noise. This guidance, produced on behalf of Defra, is supported by reports on the development of the methodology and its field trials by local authorities. The guidance gives advice to local authorities on how to assess complaints of low frequency noise, from taking into account the personal circumstances of a case to using the methodology for detecting and measuring a low frequency noise which would otherwise be difficult to assess. This will help local authorities to decide whether action should be taken under section 80 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

Motor Sports

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on use of agricultural land for motor sports. [1328]

Jim Knight: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 25 May 2005, Official Report, column 104W.

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what consultations were held before the decision to include motorbike trials in section C of the Guidance on Single Payment Scheme and Non-Agricultural Use; [477]

(2) what the principal reasons were for classifying motorbike trials under section C of the Guidance on Single Payment Scheme and Non-Agricultural Use; [485]

(3) what representations she has received concerning the banning of motorbike trials on agricultural land under the Single Farm Payment Scheme. [486]

Jim Knight: The Department's guidance on the Single Payment Scheme (SPS) and non-agricultural use of land balances the need for diversification opportunities with the necessity to abide by EU rules on eligibility of land under the scheme. It is built around the degree to which non-agricultural use impedes or is inconsistent with normal farming activities and was originally drawn up following discussions with representatives of the agricultural industry. Following representations from motor sports interests the guidance has recently been updated with motor sports moving to section B from section C.


Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what her policy
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is on the promotion of reusable nappies in the light of the life cycle assessment on disposable and reusable nappies; and if she will make a statement. [3131]

Mr. Bradshaw: Our policy has not changed. It is for parents to choose the type of nappy they use. The Government will continue funding, through the Waste and Resources Action Programme, a programme on re-usable nappies in order to help parents make an informed choice and the UK to achieve its landfill directive targets.


Dr. Pugh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) whether it is possible for the precepts paid by local authorities to waste disposal authorities to be calculated on the number of Band D properties only, without reference to councils' success in achieving recycling targets; [2756]

(2) how many waste disposal authorities calculate the precept imposed on local councils without reference to the amount of recycling done by any given council; [2759]

(3) if she will implement changes to the method whereby waste disposal authorities calculate local authorities' precepts to encourage recycling; [2760]

(4) what assessment she has made of the effects of the practice of Merseyside waste disposal authority of levying precepts on local councils irrespective of the amount of recycling done by those authorities. [3822]

Mr. Bradshaw: The amount levied by the joint waste disposal authorities upon the 35 constituent councils and the manner in which it is apportioned are matters for the authorities' members, who are appointed by the constituent councils. Where unanimous agreement on an alternative cannot be reached the levy is apportioned according to a default, currently based on the number of Band D council tax properties within each authority.

Of the six joint waste disposal authorities I understand that two currently use the default levy basis, although both are discussing proposals for a tonnage-based levy, and the rest have agreed alternatives which encourage a reduction in the amount of waste delivered for disposal.

No specific assessment has been made of the use of the default levy by Merseyside waste disposal authority. However, the Government recognise that the current default levy basis does not encourage authorities to reduce, reuse or recycle waste and we have committed to changing the default to encourage more sustainable waste management. My officials will be consulting the joint waste disposal authorities and their constituent councils on proposals for change shortly.

Dr. Pugh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) whether she plans to change the system whereby councils' targets to increase recycling are based on a percentage increase on their previous volumes; [2758]

(2) what plans she has to change the basis on which targets for recycling by councils are set. [3823]

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Mr. Bradshaw: In response to Recommendation Nine of the Strategy Unit Report 'Waste not, Want not', the Government are currently undertaking a review of recycling and composting targets in the light of performance against 2003–04 targets. The review is considering the efficacy of the existing suite of targets, and the value in setting future targets. It will take into account the fact that there are already a number of policy levers designed to drive the management of waste up the hierarchy. The outcome of the review will feed into the wider review of Waste Strategy 2000 which is also taking place in 2005, consistently with that Strategy's monitoring arrangements. The targets review will inform decisions by Ministers—as soon as possible—on any adjustment to existing targets and on any new sustainable waste targets to be set at national or local level aimed at driving up performance. Both reviews will take full account of stakeholders' and the public's views.

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