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Written Answers to Questions

Monday 4 July 2005


Animal Welfare

Miss Widdecombe: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many circuses are resident in the UK; which use wild animals; and if she will make a statement. [7037]

Mr. Bradshaw: There are three conventional circuses resident in the Great Britain which use wild and exotic animals.

We do not have any data for Northern Ireland.

Beddingham Landfill Site

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for what reasons the landfill site at Beddingham has been refused a licence to operate by the Environment Agency. [8607]

Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 30 June 2005 ]: In order to avoid confusion, I should explain that the Environment Agency has refused to issue a Pollution Prevention and Control (PPC) permit for the site in question, rather than a licence. Under the Landfill (England and Wales) Regulations 2002 all landfill sites operating under the terms of a waste management licence are required to apply for a PPC permit which places more stringent requirements on the operator, in line with the EU Landfill Directive.

The Environment Agency has refused the application for a Pollution Prevention and Control permit for Beddingham landfill site, as submitted, on two grounds. Firstly, leachate from the landfill currently poses an unacceptable risk to groundwater surrounding the site. The application as submitted does not adequately address this issue. Secondly, improvements to the site's liner system (intended to control the escape of leachate and gas from the site) are required. This has not been adequately addressed in the application either. It should however be noted that the site poses no significant risk to human health.

Under the regulations, the operator has six months to appeal the refusal or make a fresh application. Under the regulations, the site may continue to receive waste in the meantime. In the event that the operator decides to appeal the decision or makes a fresh application, the site can also continue to receive waste while these matters are dealt with. Negotiations between the operator and the Environment Agency are ongoing to resolve the reasons for refusal. It is likely that these negotiations will conclude with a new application for a PPC permit for this site.
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Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate she has made of the increased costs to beekeepers resulting from adoption of the EC directive 2004/28 regarding the supply of veterinary products and inspections; and what discussions she has had with British beekeepers on this matter. [8349]

Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 30 June 2005]: Directive 2004/28/EC amends directive 2001/82/EC, which sets out requirements for the authorisation and control of veterinary medicines. It was published by the European Commission on 30 April 2004 following a major review of EU medicines legislation. Member states are required to implement its provisions by 30 October 2005.

During negotiations in Brussels, a requirement to restrict the distribution of veterinary medicinal products for food producing animals, including honeybees, to prescription supply was presented with the intention of strengthening the control of these medicines and related consumer safeguards. While there are valid reasons for restricting some veterinary medicines to prescription supply, we do not consider this appropriate for all medicines for use in food-producing animals. Neither the commission nor the majority of member states supported the UK view and the requirement was consequently taken forward in the amending directive. We are aware that this provision has the potential to increase the costs to beekeepers of obtaining medicines by incurring additional veterinary charges.

However, the UK successfully negotiated the inclusion of a provision that allows medicines that meet certain criteria, to be agreed subsequently, to be exempt from the prescription requirement. This provision also allows the current distribution arrangements to remain until a list of exemption criteria is agreed, or until January 2007 if no list has been agreed by then. This exemption list is to be proposed by the commission andvoted on by the member states. Officials at the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) are well aware of the concerns expressed by beekeepers and continue to argue strongly for medicines authorised for use in bees to be included on this list. The commission has not yet proposed a list and it may be some time before the outcome is known.

In addition to pressing for bee medicines to be exempted from the prescription requirement, we have proposed new distribution categories for the UK that include tiered categories of prescription only medicines (ROMs). If adopted, these will comply with the directive's provisions while allowing veterinary medicines for food-producing animals that are currently available without prescription to continue to be supplied by pharmacists or registered merchants without the need to involve a veterinary surgeon.

VMD officials are working closely with beekeeper representatives and are making arrangements for the beekeepers to speak to a meeting of EU medicines regulators under the UK presidency.
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Bovine TB

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many and what percentage of cattle in England are estimated to have contracted bovine tuberculosis, broken down by region. [5883]

Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 20 June 2005]: The number and percentage of cattle herds in Great Britain placed under movement restriction as a result of a bovine TB breakdown during 2004 is shown in the following table. The information is not available on a UK basis.
Region(1)Number of cattle herds registered on State Veterinary Service databaseNumber of cattle herds under TB restrictionPercentage of cattle herds under TB restriction
GB Total92,2895,2445.7

(1)Relates to the former State Veterinary Service Regions.
Data downloaded from the State Veterinary Service database on 8/9 February 2005 and published on the Defra website. All data are provisional and subject to change as more data become available.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list the locations of the proposed trial of the badger TB vaccine. [6822]

Mr. Bradshaw: We are currently considering a number of potential locations in south west England. Once potential locations have been identified we will seek landowner permission to carry out the proposed trial.

Carbon Sequestration

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the legal impediments to the use of depleted gas and oil fields for carbon sequestration purposes. [7044]

Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 27 June 2005]: The placement of materials in the maritime area (which includes geological structures under the seabed) is regulated internationally by the London Convention and the 1996 protocol to the Convention, and by the OSPAR Convention for the protection of the marine environment of the north-east Atlantic. The 1996 protocol to the London Convention is not yet in force, but has been ratified by the United Kingdom and we would expect to abide by its provisions.

The question of the compatibility of carbon dioxide placement in geological structures, including depleted or partly depleted oil and gas fields, has been discussed in both conventions.
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Under both conventions, there is no bar on the use of carbon dioxide for operational purposes. This implies that carbon sequestration in association with enhanced oil recovery would be permitted.

The contracting parties to the OSPAR convention agreed a position statement on carbon sequestration in 2004. This established that in other certain circumstances carbon sequestration is compatible with the convention. The position is set out in full in Annex 12 to the summary record of the 2004 meeting of the OSPAR Commission. A copy will be placed in the Library of the House, and it is also available on the OSPAR web site, www.ospar.org.

The United Kingdom raised the issue of the carbon sequestration during the 2004 consultative meeting of the parties to the London Convention. The legal position has not yet been established. It was agreed to set up an inter-sessional correspondence group to consider the legal issues raised under both the convention and the 1996 protocol. The UK is coordinating the work of this group. The issue will be discussed again at the 2005 consultative meeting in October, when results of the inter-sessional work will be considered.

Any proposed project for carbon sequestration would also need to comply with relevant European directives and domestic legislation, for example in relation to the assessment environmental impacts and to the protection of the environment.

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