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19 Oct 2005 : Column 999W—continued


Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to build and develop an incinerator in Dungeness; and if she will make a statement. [17569]

Mr. Bradshaw: The Government encourage all local authorities to have in place a strategy for managing their municipal waste. However, it is for individual local authorities and not DEFRA to decide on the strategy that best suits their needs relating to waste and the particular waste management options (which may include generating energy from waste) employed within that strategy.
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Newcastle Disease

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on how the recent outbreak of Newcastle Disease was dealt with. [18217]

Mr. Bradshaw: The outbreak of Newcastle Disease in pheasants in Surrey in July 2005 was dealt with according to the published Defra Contingency Plan. A national disease control centre was established in London and a local disease control centre was set up in Reigate to manage the local response. The control policy was implemented quickly, the birds on the infected premises were culled, movement restrictions were imposed to limit the risk of disease spread and surveillance was carried out in the local area to detect any signs of disease. The outbreak was limited to one premises.

Rapid exchanges of information with the French authorities identified the farms in France that had supplied birds to the infected premises. Newcastle Disease was subsequently confirmed on one premises in France and the authorities took appropriate action.

Dialogue with the European Commission and other EU member states was maintained and there was close liaison with third countries to keep them up to date with developments and seek to minimise the impact on trade. The game bird and poultry industries and other stakeholders were kept fully informed. All restrictions on and around the infected premises have now been lifted.

A report on lessons learned from the outbreak will be published in November.

Nuclear Waste

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the Government's policy is on storing nuclear waste. [19388]

Mr. Morley: The UK Government and devolved Administrations set up the independent Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM) in 2003, under the Managing Radioactive Waste Safely programme.

The task for CoRWM is to recommend an option, or combination of options for the long-term management of the UK's higher level activity radioactive waste.

CoRWM began its third phase of its Public and Stakeholder Engagement consultation programme in August 2005, assessing the four short-listed options:

CoRWM will provide its recommendations to Ministers, for their consideration, in July 2006.


Linda Gilroy: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent advice she has received on ocean acidification and its impact on marine biodiversity and climate change. [17366]

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Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 13 October 2005]: In June this year The Royal Society published a report on the potential problems of ocean acidification as a result of increased concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This drew attention to the potential increase in acidity of the oceans which may occur over the next few centuries. This acidification has already been observed, although the full impacts on marine biodiversity are still relatively unknown.

The Department, jointly with DTI, is actively funding research at the Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) in the North Sea to investigate the potential impact of increased seawater acidity on shallow sea ecosystems, biodiversity and the health of key organisms, including their capacity to adapt. This will enable us to better understand and predict the consequences of the increasing acidity of seawater. Full details of all related research can be found on the DEFRA website (

The OSPAR Commission for the protection of the marine environment of the North East Atlantic has begun work on an assessment of the implications of increased carbon dioxide levels for our waters. The United Kingdom will be contributing to this work, drawing on the results of the Royal Society study and of the work at PML.

In March 2005 my colleague, the Minister of State for Environment (Mr. Morley), launched a new partnership called the Marine Climate Change Information Partnership (MCCIP) to co-ordinate the evidence resulting from investigations into the impacts of climate change on our marine environment. Ocean acidification is one of the issues it intends to address.


Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent representations she has received regarding (a) antisocial and (b) illegal off-roading by people with motorised vehicles. [18792]

Jim Knight: We have received a significant number of representations regarding the antisocial and illegal off-road use of motorised vehicles.

There already exists a range of statutory powers that, when used as part of a co-ordinated strategy, can prove effective in dealing with the inappropriate use of motor vehicles off-road. The Government will shortly be issuing guidance to help the police and local authorities tackle motor vehicle misuse. The guidance will set out the range of powers already available and will draw on existing best practice examples of police and local authorities working in successful partnerships.

Copies of this guidance will be placed in the Library of the House.


Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to reduce exposure to organophosphates, with particular reference to those involved in agriculture. [18403]

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Mr. Bradshaw: Organophosphates (OPs) are used in agriculture in both veterinary medicines and pesticides. All veterinary medicinal and plant protection products, including organophosphate products are subject to stringent regulatory control.

The Government takes the safety of OPs very seriously and has funded a number of research projects into the effects in humans of exposure to OPs. Current research has concluded that there is insufficient evidence to support a link between chronic low-level exposure to OPs and ill health effects in humans. Some studies remain to be completed and the results of all the studies will be reviewed on their completion. We will also review our policy on OPs in light of these results.

In addition to this Defra has funded Research and Development projects on the development of non-chemical alternatives for the control of sheep scab. The research into alternatives are complex long-term projects and if they do lead to the development of viable alternative products it is unlikely that such products will be available for at least five and probably 10 years.

The Pesticides Safety Directorate also supports on-going R and D into less toxic and more environmentally benign alternatives for crop protection, either substituting for existing active ingredients or as part of broader Integrated Farm Management approaches. Again it will take some time before products based on this research are likely to be commercially available.

In 1998 a UK review programme of organophosphates used as plant protection products was announced and 40 organophosphates were identified for review. Although companies supported 21, there are now only nine approved organophosphate active substances in about 60 products. Partly as a result of this programme there has been a significant decline, to about 25 per cent. of the 1994 levels, in the use of organophosphate plant protection products.

Details of veterinary medicines and plant protection research can be found on the Defra website.

Provided they are used according to their statutory conditions of use, plant protection products and veterinary medicines containing OPs should pose no unacceptable risk to operators, bystanders or consumers of the treated produce and as such there is no current scientific rationale for further restricting their use as a precautionary public health measure.

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