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8 Nov 2005 : Column 317W—continued


Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions she has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer about the level of tax on biofuels; and if she will make a statement. [23168]

Mr. Morley: The Department is in regular contact with Treasury Ministers to discuss a whole range of matters related to energy and environmental policy. In addition, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs meets regularly with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on a wide range of matters that affect the business of the Department. As with all tax matters, decisions on duty incentives rest with the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Bird Trade

Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many wild birds were traded into the UK (a) in 2004 and (b) to date in 2005; and what checks have been made for avian influenza among these birds. [23812]

Mr. Bradshaw: Figures from the EU wide computer system used to record imports of animals and their products, known as TRACES, show that in 2004 67,480 captive birds were imported into the European Union. Of these 66,586 were imported into the UK.

In 2005, 120,639 captive birds were imported into the EU to date. Of these 119,856 were imported into the UK.

These figures are for captive birds, as no distinction can be made between captive bred birds and wild caught birds. The figures do not include poultry. However there are discrepancies between these figures and the figures
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reported by CITES. We are concerned about these discrepancies between these figures and are urgently investigating them to resolve the problem.

All imported captive birds must be held in quarantine for 30 days during which time a test must be carried out for the avian influenza virus.

Brazilian Meat

Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what means of identification is available to segregate the two parts where consignments of beef from Brazil are a mixture of animals slaughtered before and after 30 September. [26074]

Mr. Bradshaw: The packaging of consignments has a traceability code which includes three elements: the approval number of the meat plant; the slaughter date; and an internal number. For example:

Border inspection posts can therefore determine from the traceability code on the boxes of meat, the date the animal was slaughtered.

Byway Claims

Mr. Laxton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many byway claims were made to (a) Wiltshire county council and (b) other county councils between 5 August and 11 October; and how many of these were attributable to the Trail Riders Federation in each case. [24420]

Jim Knight: The figures provided by county councils are as follows.
Highway authorityNumber of byway claims made between 5 August and 11 OctoberNumber of these claims attributable to Trail Riders Fellowship
East Sussex0
North Yorkshire10
West Sussex0

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Departmental Estate

Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what (a) land and (b) property her Department owns in Kettering constituency. [24381]

Jim Knight [holding answer 3 November 2005]: The Department does not own any land or property in the Kettering constituency.

Energy Efficiency

Anne Snelgrove: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps are being taken to build local markets for biomass wood fuel. [22684]

Mr. Morley: The Government support the use of woodfuel for the generation of heat, combined heat and power (CHP), and electricity. We are working closely with industry and others to develop markets and promote uptake. Householders and community organisations can apply for funding under DTI's £12.5 million Clear Skies Initiative to install renewable energy schemes, including wood-fuelled boiler systems. Defra's £60 million Community Energy programme provides capital grants to install new and refurbish old community heating networks, including renewable energy systems. DTI and the Big Lottery Fund's Bio-energy Capital Grants Scheme has allocated £66 million of funding to develop end-use markets for biomass, including woodfuel, in the heat, CHP and electricity generation sectors. Grants are also available from the regional development agencies. Co-firing of woodfuel with fossil fuels in conventional power stations is a developing end-use. Support to help develop the supply chain for woodfuel has been made available under the £3.5 million Bio-energy Infrastructure Scheme. The Community Renewables Initiative's local support teams are working to develop local woodfuel projects in their areas.

We recognise that there are issues that make it difficult to encourage the confidence needed for the development of woodfuel markets. The Biomass Task Force, led by Sir Ben Gill, was set up a year ago to identify the barriers to developing biomass energy, including woodfuel, and to recommend ways to overcome the problems. Their report was published on 25 October. The Government has committed itself to publishing a full response to the report within the next six months.
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John Battle: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of current energy usage in the public sector the Government estimates can be saved through energy efficiency measures. [24971]

Mr. Morley: For analysis purposes, the public sector is usually treated as part of the wider commercial and public services sector. Estimates from experts vary, depending on assumptions made. In broad terms, it might be possible to achieve savings of around 30 per cent. if all technical measures were implemented, regardless of cost, across the sector as a whole. However, the potential for cost-effective measures by 2010 is around 10 per cent.. The same figures are assumed to apply to the public sector share.


Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in what circumstances victims of flooding are eligible for compensation from her Department. [24932]

Mr. Morley: The approach adopted by successive governments has been that no compensation is generally payable to those affected by flooding. This reflects the fact that flood defence legislation is based on permissive powers" i.e. that bodies such as the Environment Agency are empowered to undertake flood defence works but are not obligated to do so.

Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what criteria the Department uses to decide whether a storm is of a one in 30-year storm for the purposes of establishing when compensation may be paid by a water undertaking following flood damage; [24512]

(2) what legislation governs compensation payments by water undertakings in the event of flooding. [24513]

Mr. Morley: The Guaranteed Standards Scheme (GSS) sets out the conditions under which customers of water and sewerage companies are entitled to compensation. It lays down statutory standards of service that must be met by companies for internal sewer flooding and is governed by the Water Industry Act 1991, under the Water Supply and Sewerage Services (Customer Service Standards) Regulations.

Most companies' compensation payments and assistance to customers go beyond the statutory requirements. If, however, sewer flooding has been caused by severe weather (e.g. widespread flooding) then a payment is not due.

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