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2 Nov 2005 : Column 1043W—continued

Bovine TB

Robert Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many cattle on farms in Wiltshire have been slaughtered following contraction of bovine tuberculosis in each of the past five years. [23598]

Mr. Bradshaw: The number of TB infected cattle slaughtered on farms in Wiltshire over the last five years is given in the following table:
Year(3)Number of cattle slaughtered in Wiltshire(4)

(3) Data downloaded from State Veterinary Service database on 19 May 2005. All data provisional and subject to change as more data becomes available.
(4) TB Reactors plus Direct Contacts.
(5) In 2001, the TB testing and control programme was largely suspended due to the foot and mouth disease (FMD) outbreak. When testing resumed in 2002, resources were concentrated on herds with overdue TB tests which would have had a longer period in which to contract the disease. Also the proportion of high risk herds tested immediately after the FMD outbreak was greater than that prior to the outbreak. As a result, data for 2001 and 2002 are not comparable with other years.

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Martin Horwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment the Department has made of whether badgers act as a reservoir for tuberculosis. [23628]

Mr. Bradshaw: The report of the review group chaired by Sir John Krebs, published in 1998, concluded there is strong evidence for an association between TB in badgers and cattle".

The Randomised Badger Culling Trial (RBCT) was designed to gather evidence by testing the impact of two badger-culling strategies (proactive and reactive culling) on the incidence of bovine TB in cattle herds. The reactive element of the trial was suspended in November 2003 after interim analysis of data showed that reactive culling might lead to an increase in the incidence of cattle TB in reactive areas when compared to control (survey only) areas. However, the trial continues in proactive (and survey only) treatment areas.

The Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB (ISO), which oversees the trial, has undertaken to bring any significant results from the proactive element of the trial to Ministers' attention.

Martin Horwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make it her policy that badger culls for the purposes of the control of bovine tuberculosis will take place only after rigorous scientific study. [23629]

Mr. Bradshaw: The strategic framework sets out the process for decision making on badger culling. This signals development of policy options for badger culling based on scientific evidence, analysis of practicality, cost-effectiveness, sustainability and humaneness. I expect to make an announcement on badger culling, one way or another, later in the autumn.

Cattle Imports (Brazil)

Mr. Wallace: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what her Department's policy is towards beef exports from Brazil which are in transit. [23183]

Mr. Bradshaw: Consignments of meat which were produced on or before the outbreak (before 30 September) will be allowed to be imported providing they meet the import rules. If produced after 30 September, the consignment will be refused. Defra have been advised by the European Commission that where consignments are mixed, the part of the consignment produced from animals slaughtered before 30 September may be admitted.
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Environment Council

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the meeting of the EU Environment Council in Luxembourg on 17 October. [20466]

Mr. Morley: I refer the hon. Member to the written Ministerial Statement on the outcome of the Council made on 31 October 2005, Official Report, columns 23–24WS in line with the new procedures. A copy of the Statement is attached.

Farm Waste

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what advice she has given to farmers about the disposal of waste from farms; and if she will make a statement. [23133]

Mr. Bradshaw: We sent a summary of the consultation paper on the draft Agricultural Waste Regulations" to 162,000 farmers and growers in England and Wales. The summary advised farmers of the five basic options available to them for the disposal of their waste when the regulations come into force.

We intend to issue guidance to accompany the final regulations. The Environment Agency is also developing practical guidance on a range of issues on which farmers and growers may seek advice when the regulations come into force (eg the storage of waste and farm dumps). This guidance is being developed in consultation with the Agricultural Waste Stakeholders' Forum. The agency and members of the forum organised a farmer focus meeting on 8 September 2005 at Holme Lacy College to gauge the level of farmers' understanding of the forthcoming waste management controls, to help shape the guidance being developed and to ensure its effectiveness.

Fishing No-take Zones

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to change the number of fishing no-take zones. [22870]

Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 28 October 2005]: A recent Defra publication, 'Charting a new course' explains how we intend to develop with stakeholders work on protected areas to increase fish stocks. We will develop criteria for the selection of Marine Protected Areas and then use those criteria to contribute to the development of an integrated approach to the selection of multi purpose MPAs, including for wider nature conservation. We are also considering how many additional protected areas might be needed to protect marine ecosystems and biodiversity and fulfil the international commitments we have made in this area.

In relation to fisheries protected areas, we would need to consider the nature and degree of protection required within an identified area for a specific stock or stocks. Current scientific advice is, however, that a total ban on fishing within a defined area (a no take zone) may not inevitably benefit stocks, particularly mobile species such as cod and that we might better achieve our objectives through seasonal or gear restrictions rather than total closure.
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In parallel the Government are committed to a Marine Bill to introduce a new framework based on marine spatial planning, that balances conservation, energy and resource needs, to obtain best value from different uses of our valuable marine resources by maintaining and protecting the ecosystems on which they depend.

Flood Prevention (Kent)

Mr. Holloway: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps she is taking to improve flood prevention measures in Kent. [19803]

Mr. Morley: Defra has policy responsibility for flood risk management in England. The Environment Agency is the principal authority responsible for operational flood risk management. Defra funds most of the agency's flood related work and grant aids individual projects undertaken by local authorities and internal drainage boards.

More than three hundred kilometres of coastal and tidal flood defences are maintained by the Environment Agency around the Kent coastline. The agency's future capital programme envisages substantial investment in the county of Kent for projects in the next three to five years. Current projects include £9.8 million spend this year on a sea defence project at High Knocke to Dymchurch and smaller flood alleviation schemes in East Peckham, Aylesford, Jury's gap and the Romney and Stour Marshlands.

The agency is developing the Medway Estuary and Swale flood risk management plan, the North Kent shoreline management plan, Thames Estuary 2100 strategy, and the Stour and North Kent rivers catchment flood management plans. These high level planning documents will inform and influence planning and investment for the next one hundred years.

The agency also provides advice (typically on ninety applications per month in Kent) to planning authorities to help with the Government's aim of avoiding inappropriate development in areas of flood risk.

In addition to the Environment Agency's work, Tonbridge and Mailing borough council is currently promoting the East Peckham flood defence scheme with Defra grant aid at an estimated cost of some £928,000.

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