Jim Knight: The 27-day deadline for submitting a cattle passport application is a requirement of the Cattle Identification Regulations 1998. It has been strictly enforced since 21 November 2003. Before that date, a less rigorous approach was taken.
In the period from 28 September 1998 to 20 November 2003, a total of 5,832 passport applications were rejected because they were not received within the legal time limits and the identity and traceability of the animal could not be established. These figures cannot be broken down into years.
Mr. Gummer: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what forms of renewable soft sea defences, other than groynes and shingle banks, are being employed for coastal protection around the English coastline. 
Mr. Morley: Defra has overall policy responsibility for flood and coastal erosion risk in England, funds most of the Environment Agency's flood management activities (including for flooding from the sea) and provides grant aid on a project by project basis to local authorities for their coastal defence improvement projects. Defra does not build defences, direct the authorities on which specific projects to undertake nor in general specify the materials and techniques to be used.
The Government encourage authorities to consider a variety of options when considering solutions. A key point is that authorities should work with natural processes wherever possible and the use of beaches to absorb wave energy is a widely used soft" technique. However, Defra does not hold information centrally on the various other techniques that might be in use and I regret that I cannot answer the question in more detail without incurring disproportionate cost.
Mr. Gummer: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the cost of (a) environmental impact assessments, (b) permissions and (c) licences for (i) remedial work to existing coastal defences in Suffolk and (ii) emergency reinforcement work to existing coastal defences in Suffolk has been in each of the past five years. 
Mr. Morley: The Environment Agency estimates their expenditure on gaining permissions, licences and environmental impact assessments as (a) £2,000 per year for remedial works (largely staff costs linked to consultation with external bodies such as English Nature regarding the annual maintenance programme); and (b) £4,000 per year for emergency reinforcement works (staff costs seeking permissions such as Food and Environment Protection Act licences, English Nature consents, plus collaborative survey work to inform operational work).
Mr. Gummer: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the (a) average and (b) fastest rate of coastline erosion is along unprotected parts of the Suffolk coast. 
Mr. Morley: Defra has overall policy responsibility for coastal erosion risk in England and grant aids individual local authority improvement projects to reduce this risk but does not build defences, nor direct the authorities on which specific projects to undertake. Management of coastal erosion risk and associated monitoring is the responsibility of the relevant local authority in each area. The information requested is not held by Defra.
Mr. Morley: I understand the Environment Agency is responsible for 0.5 km of flood defence at Sizewell Village. This is dune with good beach, and stable at present. The shoreline management plan has a hold the line" policy for this frontage.
The power station is protected to a 1:10,000 standard. That is, it is protected against all events except those with a probability of occurrence in any one year of less
25 Oct 2005 : Column 197W
than 1 in 10,000. I understand British Energy owns this defence and has regular liaison meetings with the agency. The environmental risks associated with the site flooding dictate that the defences must remain viable until such time as the site is deemed safe.
North of the power station to Minsmere cliffs is an Environment Agency responsibility and defences are the subject of the current Minsmere sea defence study. Re-alignment of defences is a possibility in 60 to 100 years on current erosion rates. Present standards of defence range from 1:210 to 1:200. Residual life is currently considered to be between 25 years and 1,000 years for different sections. There are secondary defences in place for the defences of lower standard which provide a minimum of 40 to 60 years residual life.
Mr. Morley: Defra's Community Energy programme is the only direct grant support for CHP and we are currently developing a £10 million extension. There are additionally a number of fiscal measures which benefit CHP schemes. These include exemption from the climate change levy for fuel inputs and electricity outputs and the extension in Budget 2005 of the 5 per cent. VAT rate to all domestic micro-CHP appliances. We are additionally assessing a range of measures through the current review of the Climate Change programme.
Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many consultants her Department employs; and how much has been spent on consultants in each year since 1997. 
Jim Knight: Defra came into being in June 2001. Information on consultancy expenditure prior to this date can only be identified at disproportionate cost. I refer the hon. Member to the answers I gave to my hon. Friend the member for Great Grimsby (Mr. Mitchell) on 13 June 2005, Official Report, columns 3536W, and on 21 July 2005, Official Report, columns 196263W.
Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she last met the president of the Country Land and Business Association to discuss the impact of regulations on farm businesses; and what the outcome was. 
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