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Genetically Modified Maize

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research she has evaluated on the effects of the consumption of genetically modified maize MON863 on the health of (a) rats and (b) humans. [2011]

Caroline Flint: I have been asked to reply.

The advisory committee on animal feedingstuffs examined a rat feeding study concerning MON863 and concluded that it did not indicate any adverse effects.
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The European Food Safety Authority also reviewed the application for genetically modified maize MON863, including a critique of a rat feeding study, and concluded that MON863 would not have any adverse affect on human health.

There have been no studies carried out on the effects on humans of consuming MON863 maize.


Anne Milton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate she has made of the number of incinerators that will be constructed over the next five years in (a) England and (b) South East England. [3381]

Mr. Bradshaw: There are no data held centrally on the estimated number of incinerators that will be built in future years. The choice of waste management options is for individual local authorities to make.

Private Finance Initiative

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list the private finance initiative and public private partnership projects her Department is undertaking; and what the status of each is. [2369]

Jim Knight: The core Department is currently undertaking one PFI project to provide office facilities at Brooklands Avenue in Cambridge. This project is operational.

There are, however, a number of other PFI and PPP projects being undertaken by Defra's sponsored public bodies ie its Executive agencies, NDPBs, and public corporations. The details are listed as follows:
Environment AgencyBroadland (Norfolk) Flood Defence SchemePFIOperational
Environment AgencyPevensey Bay Sea DefencesPFIOperational
Countryside Agency'SPIRIT IT' SystemPFIOperational
British WaterwaysPub Partnership—development and management of canal side pub estatePPPPartnership is operational
British Waterways'Isis'—development of river and canal side propertyPPPPartnership is operational
British WaterwaysWood Wharf (London) redevelopmentPPPPartnership is operational
British WaterwaysWatergrid—water supply networkPPPPartnership is dormant

In addition, although they are not Defra projects, the Department also provides support in the form of PFI credits to allow local authorities to enter into PFI contracts to provide waste recycling and management facilities. Information about these local authority projects can be found on the database of approved projects on HM Treasury's website.


Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage
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of (a) domestic, (b) commercial and (c) industrial waste has been recycled in the UK in each year since 2001. [1076]

Mr. Bradshaw: The information requested is as follows:

(a) Estimates of the percentage of UK household waste recycled or composted are shown in the table:
Household waste recycled or composted


(a) and (b) Estimates based on an Environment Agency survey of England and Wales in 1998–99 show that 45 per cent. of industrial and 26 per cent. of commercial waste was recycled or reused . Results from a further survey for 2002–03 will be published shortly.

UK Presidency (EU)

Kate Hoey: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what communication activities are planned in relation to the policy areas covered by her Department during the UK presidency of the EU; and what budget has been allocated for these activities. [1657]

Jim Knight: External communications activity for the presidency is being co-ordinated centrally by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Defra is engaged with FCO and other Government Departments on presidency communications activity.

Defra's presidency communications activity has been developed to be sustainable and accessible and to address both public interest in the EU in general and the priorities, programme and progress of Defra's parts of the EU agenda.

Ministers will undertake a range of activities, including briefings for media and stakeholders, and explanatory information will be placed in public areas of Defra buildings. Currently we have £20,000 set aside for publicity materials. We will also work with stakeholders, other Departments and the Commission on joined-up communications activity as appropriate.


Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what further steps she intends to take following the decision of the Japanese authorities to (a) increase the quota of minke whale taking and (b) begin hunting the humpback whale. [3129]

Mr. Bradshaw: With colleagues from 14 other countries HM ambassador in Tokyo delivered a Demarche to the Government of Japan on 2 June 2005, protesting in the strongest terms on Japan's plans to expand its so-called 'scientific' whaling activities. We are working to ensure that the International Whaling Commission's Scientific Committee takes no action which could possibly be read by Japan as an
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'endorsement' of their plans, and will make further protest during the annual meeting of the Commission which takes place later this month.


Car Sharing

Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment the Government have made of the effectiveness of car-sharing within schools as a means of reducing congestion associated with the school run. [1675]

Ms Buck: The Government want to make it possible for more children to walk, cycle or use the bus to get to and from school. Where these are not feasible, we would like as many parents as possible to have the option of car-sharing. Many families already make their own informal arrangements but formal car-sharing schemes for school journeys are only just starting to be developed.

The impact of car-sharing on traffic levels is included in a major research report published by the Department last July—Smarter Choices—Changing the Way We Travel". Based on the evidence provided by this report, we are encouraging local authorities to consider including initiatives such as car-sharing in their new transport strategies.

Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) how much funding has been given by his Department, and its predecessors, in each year since 1997 towards the (a) development and (b) promotion of (i) car clubs, (ii) car sharing and (iii) the Carplus scheme; [1677]

(2) what funding has been made available to local authorities to promote (a) car sharing, (b) car clubs and (c) education programmes to promote walking and cycling in each year since 1997. [1781]

Ms Buck: The information requested is as follows.

Car Clubs and Car Sharing

In 1999, the Department contributed setting up costs of £150,000 to establish the Edinburgh City Car Club. The Department has also supported the CarPlus advisory service with the following grants:

CarPlus have requested further funding for 2005–06. This is currently under consideration.

Education Programmes

In general, revenue funding provided to local authorities is not dedicated for specific purposes. We did, however, provide some ring-fenced funding to local authorities through our bursary scheme for the
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employment of school and workplace travel plan co-ordinators at a cost of £3 million per annum for three years from April 2001 to March 2004. Both car-sharing and car clubs are measures that could be included in travel plans.

Since October 2003, the focus has been on promoting school travel plans through the Travel to School Initiative. This is a joint project with the Department for Education and Skills. A budget of £50 million has been allocated for the two years up to March 2006. The aim is for every school in England to have a travel plan by the end of the decade and through this to boost walking, cycling and bus use. The funding is being used to support around 250 local-authority based school travel advisers to assist schools with developing their plans.
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There are also capital grants for schools with approved travel plans to pay for infrastructure such as improved cycle storage facilities. This is typically £5,000 for a junior school and £10,000 for a senior. £14 million was spent on these capital grants in 2004–05 and £20 million is expected for this and each subsequent year up to and including 2008.

Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will estimate the total reduction in vehicle kilometres that would result from a (a) 10 per cent. (b) 20 per cent. and (c) 50 per cent. increase in average vehicle occupancy. [1678]

Ms Buck: It is estimated that the decrease in vehicle kilometres for cars, taxis and vans as a result of an increase in vehicle occupancy would be as follows:
Vehicle kilometres by cars, taxis and vans (billion)
Increase in vehicle occupancyResultant percentage change in vehicle kilometresCurrent (2003)Following decrease in occupancyChange
10 per cent.-945141041
20 per cent.-1745137675
50 per cent.-33451301150

This assumes that the occupancy increase is a result of increased trip sharing and therefore fewer trips, and not, for example, from a shift of passengers from other modes of transport. It is also assumed that an increase in occupancy does not result in an

increase in trip length (i.e. passenger kilometre figures stay fixed).

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