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4 Jul 2005 : Column 4W—continued

Energy Efficiency

Colin Challen: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will use the UK presidency of the European Council to promote responses to the new European Commission Green Paper on energy efficiency. [7581]

Mr. Morley: The Government welcome the publication of the European Commission's Green Paper on Energy Efficiency, Doing More With Less". The priority that the Commission is attaching to this important initiative is entirely consistent with our own aims and objectives under the UK presidency. We are sure that the Green Paper will act as an important catalyst for action on energy efficiency issues and recognition of its importance in tackling climate change and hope that the process will lead to an ambitious plan of action.

Under the UK presidency, the Government will therefore look to pro-actively encourage responses to the Green Paper as part of the wider public debate on energy efficiency which the Commission have launched. We are already in discussion with the Commission about hosting an internationally focused energy efficiency event drawing on the European Commission Green Paper as well as the experience and knowledge of a wide cross section of international experts and we will also look to encourage the debate in other fora.

Environment Agency

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much revenue she estimates the Environment Agency will receive from companies which register their premises
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with regards to collections of waste; under what legislation such registration is a requirement; and if she will make a statement. [6149]

Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 21 June 2005]: The Environment Agency estimates that producer notification of premises producing hazardous waste will generate an income of £2.25 million in a full year of operation to assist in meeting their costs of administering the new regime. This is a requirement of the Hazardous Waste Regulations 2005 (Statutory Instrument number 2005894). This funding will enable the Environment Agency to begin to target its resources on compliance activity and carry out periodic inspections of hazardous waste producers as required by the Hazardous Waste Directive.

Flood Protection

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the (a) current and (b) future level of flood protection necessary for Canvey Island; and if she will make a statement. [6892]

Mr. Morley: The Environment Agency's assessment is that Canvey Island is protected by sea defences to a standard which is among the highest in the country. The sea walls around Canvey Island currently provide protection against coastal flooding in all but the most extreme conditions (those with a probability of occurrence of less than 0.1 per cent. in any one year). By the year 2030, on the assumption of no further improvements to the current defences, it is estimated that protection would be slightly reduced to a level effective against events with a probability equal to 0.1 per cent. in any one year.

The Environment Agency has initiated a project, 'Thames Estuary 2100', to address the impacts of future climate change and sea level rise on the Thames estuary (including Canvey Island). More accurate assessments of the standards of sea walls in the Thames estuary are being undertaken as part of this overall project. Once this work has been completed, the need for any greater protection can be assessed.

The final Plan of the Thames Estuary 2100 project is due in 2008.

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what guidance the Environment Agency has issued on single-storey development in areas susceptible to flooding; and if she will make a statement. [7382]

Mr. Morley: I understand the Environment Agency has not itself issued any specific national guidance on single-storey development in areas susceptible to flooding. However, it has worked closely with the Construction Industry Research and Information Association (CIRIA), who have recently issued guidance on the development of bungalows and single-storey dwellings in areas at risk of flooding, as part of CIRIA Guidance Development and flood risk—Guidance to the construction industry".

Government policy for effective national management of flood risk is to avoid inappropriate development in areas at risk. The Office of the Deputy
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Prime Minister's Planning Policy Guidance Note 25 Development and Flood Risk" cautions planning authorities to take particular care in respect of proposed single-storey developments behind existing sea defences because of the speed of flooding in such circumstances combined with no means of escape to an upper floor.

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what future works are planned on Canvey Island's flood defences; when they are expected to start; and what the expected cost is. [7381]

Mr. Morley: I understand the Environment Agency's plans for flood defence improvement work on Canvey Island involve the replacement/refurbishment of 12 pumping stations to improve the level of fluvial defence to reduce the chance of flooding in any one year from 10 per cent. to 0.5 per cent.

The existing pumping stations have reached the end of their design life and also require some modifications if Environment Agency staff are to operate and maintain them safely.

I understand work began on 27 June 2005 and will be carried out on a 'one by one' basis over 18 months. The construction cost for these works is estimated at £3.5 million. The Canvey Island Drainage Improvement Scheme as a whole will be £5.79 million.


Mr. Pope: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many officials currently in the Department received honours in the recent Queen's Birthday Honours List; and at what rank of honour. [5120]

Jim Knight: Within Defra one official received a CBE, two received OBEs, one an MBE. Also one official in the Forestry Commission received an MBE.

A full listing can be found in the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Hutton) on 22 June 2005, Official Report, column 1059W.

Interceptor Tunnel (River Thames)

Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what the latest estimate is of the cost of building an interceptor tunnel for the River Thames; [8213]

(2) pursuant to the answer of 23 June 2005, Official Report, columns 1119–21W, on the River Thames (pollution), when she expects the report by her officials and the Thames Tideway Strategic Study Steering Group to be completed. [8236]

Mr. Morley: The latest estimate, at 2004 prices, of building the large 35 km interceptor tunnel and the associated treatment facilities proposed by the Thames Tideway Strategic Study Group is £1.7 billion.

The further report from the Thames Tideway Strategic Study Steering Group report is expected to be completed and submitted to Ministers and the Office of Water Services this summer.
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Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps are being taken to discourage the dropping of litter on streets; what penalties apply to the offence; and if she will make a statement. [8113]

Mr. Bradshaw: It is an offence under section 87 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to thrown down, drop or otherwise deposit any litter in any place in the area of a principal litter authority which is open to the air. A person found guilty of the offence may be fined up to £2,500 in a magistrates court. Section 88 of the 1990 Act also enables local authorities to issue fixed penalties for the offence as an alternative to prosecution. The level of fixed penalties in England is currently set at £50.

Government have recently introduced new legislation to discourage the dropping of litter through the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005. Until 7 June this year, it was only an offence to drop litter on land to which the public have access. This has now been extended to cover all types of land, including private land and land covered by water, sending out a clear message that the dropping of litter anywhere is unacceptable.

The Act also contains changes to the fixed penalty notice regime which will be brought into force in April next year. It will enable local authorities to authorise officers other than their own employees to issued fixed penalties for litter, and additionally, will extend this power to parish councils. This will help to discourage littering by widening the range of officers that are able to take immediate enforcement action.

At the same time, local authorities will be given the freedom to set the level of fixed penalties themselves within a range set out by the Secretary of State in regulations, and to offer discounts for early payment. A standard default amount of £75 will apply if the local authority chooses not to exercise this power. The Act will make it an offence for someone to fail to supply their name and address or to give a false name or address, when requested to do so by an authorised officer serving an FPN. This will deter people from dropping litter by increasing on-the-spot fines and giving enforcement officers more effective powers.

The Government are seeking to discourage littering not only through improved legislation and enforcement, but also by educating people about the responsible disposal of litter and highlighting the link between irresponsible disposal, poor health, a degraded local environment, and levels of anti-social behaviour. It is for this reason that Defra provides grant-funding to the environmental charity ENCAMS to conduct public awareness campaigns on its behalf. These are targeted at specific groups to reduce types of littering that have been identified as particularly problematic or prevalent. For example, the focus this year is on youth littering and smoking-related litter.

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