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5 Jul 2005 : Column 247W—continued

Computer Crime

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many cases of computer (a) hacking, (b) fraud and (c) theft her Department recorded in each year since 2001–02; and for each year, on how many occasions computer systems have been illegally accessed by computer hackers (i)within and (ii) outside her Department. [7187]

Jim Knight: The Department is not aware of any successful hacking or fraud involving its IT systems during the period. The Department deploys anti-hacking measures on its IT network including firewalls, application firewalls, hardening of servers, intrusion detection systems and IT security health checks.

The following numbers of computer thefts are recorded for the period:
Computer thefts

Number of items stolen


Mark Tami: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps her Department is taking to protect and enhance (a) the habitats and (b) the number of the dormouse population in England; and what estimate she has made of the dormouse population in England in each of the last five years. [9212]

Jim Knight: The dormouse is a priority species with an individual Species Action Plan that is led jointly by English Nature and The Wildlife Trusts. It has also been the subject of an English Nature Species Recovery Programme since 1991. The main reasons for the decline of the dormouse appear to be the fragmentation of our woodlands coupled with inappropriate woodland
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management. The dormouse recovery programme has sought to address these issues. Guidance on woodland management to favour dormice was published in 1996 and has been followed by a series of training courses for woodland managers. Awareness of the needs of the dormouse is now very high. In addition, the Forestry Commission has a large programme to restore planted ancient woodland sites, which will favour the dormouse. An innovative research programme, carried out at Royal Holloway, University of London, showed the importance of hedgerows for dormice and guidance on hedgerow management was published by English Nature in 2002. 'Dormouse friendly' hedgerows are now an option in the Government's new Environmental Scheme. A greatly-expanded conservation handbook on dormice will be published later this year.

As well as efforts to improve the countryside for dormice, the species has been reintroduced into some parts of England from which it was lost. A partnership between English Nature and the People's Trust for Endangered Species, with veterinary support from the Institute of Zoology, has now carried out 14 reintroductions to 11 counties, using dormice supplied by the Common Dormouse Captive Breeders Group. Follow-up surveys have confirmed the success of this approach, with the first reintroduction now more than 10-years-old. The most recent reintroduction was to the Chatsworth Estate, Derbyshire in June this year.

Estimating the number of dormice is difficult as the species is very under-recorded. The first Great Nut Hunt in 1993 greatly increased the number of known sites for the species and a national inventory of more than 1,300 sites is now available through the National Biodiversity Network. More than 200 of these sites now contribute to the National Dormouse Monitoring Programme by counting the number of dormice in nest-boxes every summer. These data, summarised in the report of the Tracking Mammals Project, have shown that, nationally, the dormouse population has declined by 23 per cent. since 1993, though it has been relatively stable in recent years. However, there are indications that the species remains vulnerable at the edge of its range, particularly in the marginal uplands, so there is an on-going need for conservation work. A recent estimate of the national population suggested that there are in the region of 45,000 dormice in Britain.

Emissions Trading Scheme

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the treatment of funds collected under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. [8605]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 30 June 2005]: The EU Emissions Trading Scheme works at an installation rather than state-level, and therefore any potential profits or losses from the Scheme are accrued by the individual operator.

The two categories of payments from individual operators under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme are regulator fees and civil penalties. Fees are imposed by the regulator to cover the costs incurred in administering the scheme. The regulator also administers the collection of civil penalties, levied when regulations have been broken. Regulation 41 of the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading
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Scheme Regulations 2005 requires the regulator to collect any civil penalties, and then to pass them to the appropriate authority", before entering the Treasury's Consolidated Fund. The appropriate authority is the Secretary of State for installations in England and offshore installations, the Scottish Ministers for installations in Scotland, the Welsh Assembly for installations in Wales, and the Department of Environment for Northern Ireland.

Operators can avoid paying civil penalties by purchasing (and surrendering) additional allowances from other operators, in line with their obligations under the Scheme.

Mr. Ian Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will assess the merits of including aircraft emissions in the European Emissions Trading Scheme. [8745]

Mr. Morley: Aviation accounted for approximately 3 per cent. of the EU's carbon dioxide emissions in 2001. While this is a relatively modest share, this represents an increase of 68 per cent. from 1990 levels. Furthermore, in their 1999 Special Report on Aviation and the Global Atmosphere, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimated that the total climate change effect from aviation is approximately two to four times larger than the effect of its CO 2 emissions alone. The EU has recognised the need to tackle this growing area of emissions in the absence of other international action.

The use of emissions trading allows the coverage of environmental costs through a mixture of emissions reductions within the sector and purchase of reductions that can be produced more cheaply by other sectors. The advantage of emissions trading is that, through the use of a defined emissions cap, it guarantees a desired environmental outcome in a way that other instruments, such as charges, do not. Furthermore, it ensures that the emissions reductions required to achieve a particular environmental outcome take place in as cost-effective a manner as possible.

For an international industry, an international trading regime is the best solution. The Government have made taking forward the work programme for the inclusion of aviation emissions into the EU Emissions Trading Scheme a priority for the UK presidency of the EU. While there are further instruments that may be appropriate, our focus is on emissions trading as the most cost effective way of delivering our environmental objective.

Fish Merchants

Mr. MacNeil: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs under what legislation the proposed buyers' licences for fish merchants were introduced; and if she will make a statement. [8877]

Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 4 July 2005]: In England the registration of buyers and sellers of first sale fish was introduced by The Registration of Fish Buyers and Sellers and Designation of Fish Auction Sites Regulations 2005 (SI 2005 No. 1605). Similar legislation has been or will be introduced by the devolved administrations and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Northern Ireland.
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Flooding (North Yorkshire)

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will relax the three day notice period on movements given in North Yorkshire following the flooding. [9473]

Mr. Morley: It is a requirement under the Disease Control (England) Order 2003 that livestock movements are reported within three days of the movement taking place.

We have not been asked to relax this reporting period due to flooding in North Yorkshire, but we would treat any requests we receive to do so sympathetically, where the farmer concerned is suffering hardship.

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will provide funds to assist the clear-up of the countryside and carriageways following the floods in North Yorkshire. [9476]

Mr. Morley: The Bellwin Scheme, administered by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, is the means by which financial assistance can be made available to local authorities following an emergency. Funding from DEFRA is not available for this purpose.

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