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Written Answers to Questions

Monday 18 July 2005


New Members

Chris Huhne: To ask the Leader of the House if he will co-ordinate a series of Tuesday morning briefings for new hon. Members by each principal Government Department on its work, with the exception of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. [12558]

Mr. Hoon: My right hon. Friends would obviously be more than happy to arrange briefing meetings at mutually convenient times with any new hon. Members on the work of their Department.


GM Food

Mr. Meacher: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what help the UK Government plans to provide to (a) farmers and (b) milk retailers to ensure adequate supplies of important non-GM animal food. [11831]

Mr. Morley: The Government have no plans to provide specific help to farmers or milk retailers to ensure adequate supplies of imported non-GM feed for animals. This is a matter of choice, not safety, and market forces will operate to deliver feed derived from non-GM sources if there is sufficient demand from farmers and retailers. Legislation is already in place to ensure that animal feed derived from GM crops is labelled to enable farmers to make appropriate choices.

Methane Energy

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate she has made of the amount of energy that will be generated from methane from (a) waste sites, (b) coal mines and (c) other sources in each of the next three years. [11318]

Mr. Morley: Estimates for energy generated from methane sources for the next three years are shown as thousand tonnes of oil equivalent (kTOE) in the following table:
Methane source200620072008
Operating deep mines181714
Abandoned mines304345
Landfill gas (electricity)1,3381,4411,545
Landfill gas (heat)141414
Sewage gas (electricity)170178187
Sewage gas (heat)647279
Anerobic digestion on farmsminimalminimalminimal

1.Estimates from coal mines are based on current generation and projections for mine closures. Number of mines generating is less than number of mines open.
2.Estimates of energy generation from landfill and sewage gas are derived by linear interpolation, consistent with the most recent projections published by the Department of Trade and Industry for 2005 and 2010.
3.The number of digesters currently used for anaerobic digestion on farms in the UK is thought to be very small.

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Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the cost to date of the Environment Agency's Life Cycle Assessment on reusable and disposable nappies is; what estimate has been made of the cost of the further proposed LCA; when she expects the further LCA to be completed; and who will carry out the work. [11685]

Mr. Bradshaw: The cost of the Environment Agency's Life Cycle Assessment was £200,000, which, as well as the consultant and survey costs, includes Agency staff time.

The scope of the further work is currently being discussed with the Environment Agency and the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP). Until this is determined in detail then it is not possible to determine the cost and who will carry out the work.

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures she has put in place for assessing the (a) environmental and (b) economic effects of the WRAP Real Nappy Programme; and whether it will be (i) independently audited and (ii) made publicly available. [11717]

Mr. Bradshaw: From a waste management perspective, Government's view is that use of real nappies will help the UK to meet tough EU Landfill Directive targets, which are designed to reduce environmental damage and improve resource productivity by reducing reliance on landfill.

The Environment Agency's recently published Life Cycle Assessment has helped to provide an understanding of the environmental impact of disposables and the traditional type of re-usable nappy. The main conclusion of the study is that the overall environmental impact of disposable and reusable nappies is similar.

The study, carried out in 2002–03, showed that terry (towelling) nappies were the main type of reusable nappy used. However, this does not reflect recent increases in the proportion of other types of reusable nappies. Further work will be undertaken to look at the environmental impacts of more modern reusables.

WRAP reports annually on its overall progress in meeting targets, including work under the Real Nappy Programme. Future assessments will be based, for example, on information from funded schemes and from opinion research to be conducted at the end of the year.

Poultry Industry

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what her policy
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is in respect of the draft EU Directive on the welfare of broiler chickens, with particular reference to minimum space allocations per bird. [5886]

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to reduce the stocking densities of broiler chickens; and if she will make a statement. [6138]

Mr. Bradshaw: The European Commission has recently published proposals for a Council Directive laying down minimum rules, including a two-tier stocking density, for the protection of chickens kept for meat production.

The Government are looking forward to working, during the UK's presidency of the EU Council of Ministers, with the Commission and other member states to progress the proposed directive. We will be holding a full public consultation on the proposals shortly.

Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment she has made of the threat to the UK poultry industry from avian flu. [12109]

Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 14 July 2005]: If there is an outbreak of disease in an exporting country Defratakes appropriate emergency safeguard action inaccordance with Community legislation. This may include a ban on imports of animals and animal products from all, or parts, of that country.

Safeguard measures in relation to Avian influenza (Al) were put in place for affected Asian countries in January 2004 and have since been extended to 30 September 2005. Restrictions were placed on South African imports in August 2004 and have now been extended to 31 December 2005.

The assessment of risk to the UK poultry flock of Avian influenza began in 2004 and is continuously reviewed. When there is an outbreak in a country a
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specific risk assessment is carried out by DEFRA experts. These assessments are published in the Vet Record Quarterly and also on DEFRA's own public website http://defraweb/animalh/diseases/monitoring/).

In the event of an outbreak of Avian influenza in poultry in this country DEFRA would immediately invoke its exotic animal disease generic contingency plan, which sets out measures for the management of an outbreak of Avian influenza. The plan has been the subject of a formal public consultation exercise, in particular taking on board comments from the UK poultry industry.


Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate her Department has made of the loss of rainforest habitat in square miles in each year since 1997; and if she will make a statement. [11741]

Mr. Morley: Information on forest loss is published by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations. The FAO estimate that the net percentage of forest cover lost worldwide between 1990 and 2000 was 2.37 per cent. This represents an estimated total worldwide loss in forest cover between 1990 and 2000 of 362, 834 miles 2 .

This information is only available for all types of forest cover and in set assessment cycles. The last assessment cycle was to 2000, it is not possible to isolate figures from 1997, or just for rainforests.

Please see the table which summarises the current global data available for forest resources by region.

Forest cover date for individual countries may be found in the Global Forest Resources Assessment 2000 Main Report". This is published by the FAO and is available online via the following web link:http://www.fao.org/forestry/fo/fra/main/index.jsp
Forest resources by region

Forest area 2000
Land areaNatural forestForest plantationTotal forest
Area change 1990–2000
(total forest)
North and Central America
and the Caribbean
South America!1,754,741875,63110,455885,61850.52.6-3,711-0.4
Total world13,063,9003,682,722186,7333,869,45529.60.6-9,391-0.2

Table taken from appendices to: Global Forest Resources Assessment 2000—Main Report".

Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on UK policy towards protection of rainforest habitat. [11742]

Mr. Morley: The UK Government are concerned about the loss of rainforest habitats, and we are working with rainforest countries to promote sustainable development around the world. We recognise the efforts of Brazilian and other Governments to address the problems in the Amazon region and are working together to promote sustainable forest management and the implementation of policies on the ground.

To that end, Defra is working closely in conjunction on this issue with the Department for International Development and the Foreign Office.
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The UK Government are involved with a number of initiatives. In Brazil the Government have contributed £14 million to the multi-donor pilot programme for the preservation of Brazilian rain forests. In addition the UK is a major contributor to the global environment facility (GEF) that is creating and maintaining protected areas in the region through the Amazon region protected areas programme. The managers of the GEF have approved or endorsed funding for 29 projects in Brazil, with a value of approximately £150 million.

The UK continues to support projects in the Amazon through multilateral organisations, including the European Commission and the World Bank.

The UK Government also recognises the role that trade can play in promoting sustainable rainforest management. Within the EU Britain is taking a leading role in championing an action plan on forest law enforcement, Governance and trade, which is aimed at
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combating illegal logging and international trade in illegally harvested timber. And since 1976 Britain has been a signatory to the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

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