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Mr. Salmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she expects to reply to the letter dated 25 July 2005 from the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan regarding tallow combustion. 
Jim Knight: The issues raised in the hon. Gentleman's letter of 25 July to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State fall within the remit of the Scottish Executive. The hon. Gentleman's letter has therefore been transferred to the Scottish Executive correspondence section which will reply to him directly.
Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list formal consultations being sponsored by her Department and its agencies; and what the (a) commencement date and (b) deadline for responses is in each case. 
Jim Knight: A list of the Department's current consultations can be found on the Defra website at via the home page under 'consultations' or direct to the website http://defraweb/corporate/consult/current.htm. This site contains the date of issue and the deadline for responses.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of her Department's vehicles use (a) hydrogen fuel cells and (b) hybrid environmentally friendly technologies. 
|Type of vehicle||Percentage|
|(a) hydrogen fuel cells||0|
|(b) powered by hybrid environmentally friendly|
Jim Knight: Defra was created on 8 June 2001. Full year information is available from 200203. Information on carbon emissions from business road travel in vehicles owned by Defra and its executive agencies each year is shown in the following table.
|Carbon dioxide emissions|
|1 April 2002 to 31 March 2003||1,153|
|1 April 2003 to 31 March 2004||1,214|
|1 April 2004 to 31 March 2005||1,594|
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of journeys made by (a) officials and (b) Ministers in her Department have been made by public transport in each year since 1997. 
Mr. Peter Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many inspections have been carried out in each of the last three years at the premises of duck producers. 
|1 January to 31 December|
|1 January to 30 September|
Fireblight, a bacterial plant disease, is well established throughout much of Europe and has been known to exist in the UK since the 1950s. It is a serious disease of apples, pears and related trees and shrubs in the family Rosaceae, sub family Pomoideae. The list of susceptible material includes several plants which commonly grow wild in England and Wales, including Chaenomeles (Flowering Quince), Cotoneaster, Crataegus (Hawthorn) and Sorbus (Mountain Ash).
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The first UK finding of fireblight was in Kent in 1957. It is now widespread in Wales, England and also parts of Scotland but absent from Northern Ireland. The disease can be spread by wind, rain, birds and pollinating insects, as well as on contaminated pruning tools and by the planting of infected plants which may or may not show symptoms. It is known to have spread in England along hawthorn hedges planted alongside railways, motorways and main roads. There are no pesticides currently available to treat the disease.
Nurseries intending to move fireblight-host material have to be registered with DEFRA and must have at least two inspections per year in order to retain their ability to trade susceptible plants within the EU.
Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures are in place to ensure that exporters of fireblight-susceptible species of trees and shrubs do not use other species' names on the necessary paperwork; and what assessment she has made of whether those who inspect the paperwork are capable of (a) differentiating and (b) identifying the species. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Exporters of plants and plant products to non EC countries must satisfy the plant health requirements of the importing country. In many cases importing countries require consignments to be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate issued by the official services in the country of origin as evidence that those requirements have been met. In the case of fireblight-susceptible host plants, where requested by an exporter and if required by the importing country, DEFRA's Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate (PHSI) will undertake inspection of the material and, if it is found to comply with the conditions of import, will issue the necessary phytosanitary certificate. This would include details of the plant genera and species.
In relation to movements within the EU, growers of fireblight host material are required to register with DEFRA as producers of plant material requiring a plant passport and they also have to apply to DEFRA for authorisation to issue plant passports. An element of the authorisation process is to designate a technically experienced person who is responsible for passporting and associated plant health matters on the premises. In order to retain their authorisation producers must be inspected at least twice a year by the PHSI. One of these inspections will take place during the period of growth of the plants and the other at the time of despatch of material, including a check of records and documentation. If at any time a registered plant passporter is shown to be deliberately falsifying information or contravening the passporting regulations, his authorisation to issue plant passports may be withdrawn.
PHSI are normally graduates and invariably have a background or qualification in horticulture or agriculture. On appointment they receive a period of intensive training, which will include plant, pest and disease identification, familiarisation with the legislation under which they will operate, plant passporting and export certification arrangements etc. On completion of this formal training they shadow experienced Inspectors for a further period of field-based training, including
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visits to plant passporting and/or exporting nurseries. Identification of fireblight hosts is included as part of this general training.
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