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8 Nov 2005 : Column 320W—continued

GM Crops

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the recent European Court of Justice ruling on GM crops. [25230]

Mr. Morley: The recent European Court of Justice ruling turned down an application by Austria for a derogation from Directive 2001/18/EC to declare the region of Upper Austria a GM-free zone. The court's ruling was based on the fact that the Austrian Government failed to prove that the region of Upper Austria had a unique ecosystem which might justify a
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specific local risk assessment. Under existing EU law, in order to declare a GM-free zone, that is a region where GM crops cannot be cultivated, a member state has to prove that there are special reasons to introduce national measures.

Under current EU law, as agreed by EU member states, the only legitimate grounds for narrowing the geographical scope of an approval to prevent cultivation in a defined zone are the production of clear evidence that the GM crop involved poses a particular risk to the specific area in question. In the Austrian case, the European Court of Justice found that Austria had not demonstrated the existence of any such risks to the region of Upper Austria.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the Government's latest recommendation is on field separation distances between GM and non-GM crops. [25232]

Mr. Morley: The separation distances between GM and non-GM crops used in the Farm Scale Evaluations were based on information from the National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB) in 2000. We have commissioned a further report from NIAB on separation distances to inform the proposals we are developing on the co-existence of GM and non-GM crops. We will issue a consultation paper on this in due course.

Greenhouse Gases

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the emissions of the Kyoto basket of gases will be between 2008 and 2012 if the trend in emissions of the last (a) five years, (b) four years, (c) three years, (d) two years and (e) one year continue; and whether the Kyoto target would be met under each projection. [25008]

Mr. Morley: The UK commitment under the Kyoto protocol is to reduce these emission by 12.5 per cent. below the base year level for the years of the commitment period (2008–12).

The following table shows projected UK greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and percentage reductions during the commitment period obtained by assuming that the linear trend in emissions of the last (a) five years, (b) four years, (c) three years, (d) two years and (e) one year continue, based on the most recent published UK Greenhouse Gas Inventory data, which cover the period 1990 to 2003. The table indicates that the UK will exceed the reduction target in each projection except for case (e) where one year's difference in emissions is used to indicate the trend. Case (e) is the least robust projection as it is most susceptible to interannual variability due to fuel price relativities, external temperatures and other effects. On the basis of projections provided to the European Union in June, we expect to exceed the Kyoto commitment by about 8 percentage points, and the review of the UK Climate
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Change Programme currently is assessing the actions needed to put the UK back on course to meet our domestic target of achieving a 20 per cent. reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2010, which would further increase the safety margin.

Projections based
on trend back

Average UK GHG emission 2008–12 (MtC)
Reduction from Kyoto protocol base year emissions (percentage)
(a) 5 years163.5-20.3
(b) 4 years176.1-14.2
(c) 3 years176.5-14.0
(d) 2 years164.9-19.6
(e) 1 year190.9-7.0

Literacy and Numeracy

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what proportion of new recruits to her Department do not have a level 2 qualification in English and mathematics. [23777]

Jim Knight: This information is not available. This is because Defra introduced a competence based recruitment and selection system in October 2003. Competences are individual abilities or characteristics that are key to effectiveness in work and do not rely on educational qualifications. New recruits to Defra to grades below the senior civil service will have demonstrated the particular skills and behaviours at the level required for the vacancy for which they applied. For specialist posts such as scientists, lawyers, vets and statisticians, candidates are also asked to provide further detail of their technical knowledge (including qualifications) and expertise for the posts.

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for 0Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what methods of assessment of (a) literacy and (b) numeracy skills are used as part of the recruitment process by employees of her Department. [23787]

Jim Knight: Since October 2003 Defra has operated competence based recruitment and selection processes. Competences are individual abilities or characteristics that are key to effectiveness in work. The aim is to obtain precise and verifiable information about when candidates have displayed the particular behaviours at the level required for the vacancy. This is achieved generally through a structured competence based application form and assessment through interview and, where appropriate, assessment centre exercises.

Non-food Crops

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many non-food crops are grown in England; and what the percentage produced of each sort was (a) by value and (b) by volume in 2004–05. [22175]

Mr. Morley: In 2004, at least 11 crops were grown in England for non-food and energy use. The contribution of each of these in terms of production area and value is shown in the following table. Our best estimate of n on-food crop production area in 2004 is approximately 115,000 hectares, 40 per cent. of this area was represented by non-food crop production on set-aside land.
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These figures do not necessarily give the whole picture: a number of crops can be used for either food or non-food uses; non-food crops may be grown on non
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set-aside land or not declared under any particular scheme; and part of the crop may be used as food while co-products are used as industrial raw materials or fuel.
Estimated areas of non-food crops grown in England, tonnage of seed or biomass produced (tonnes) and estimate of total value (tonnage x £/tonne) in the 2004 cropping season

CropArea (ha)Area (percentage)Tonnage (tonnes)Estimated total
value(2) (£)
Total value (percentage)
Oilseed Rape66,46857.5(3)(5508310004)199,19727 million56.8
Linseed32,00027.7(3)(5508310004)53,8649.7 million20.4
High Erucic Acid Oilseed rape8,4307.3(3)39,0477.4 million15.6
Papaver Somniferum1,9781.7(3)2,242692,0001.5
Short Rotation Coppice1,7291.5(4)13,832553,0001.2
Essential Oil Crops73<0.1(3)532746,0001.6

(2) Estimated values based on industry derived or estimated market values and tonnage data.
(3) Declared tonnages by first processor in Defra payment schemes.
(4) Estimated tonnages based on average yield—note that as oilseed rape and linseed are grown on both set-aside and main regime land, part of the tonnage is declared and part estimated. Much of the SRC and miscanthus would not have reached first harvest by 2004 and will therefore not have delivered the tonnage and value estimated.
1. The data represents information collated through various Defra payment schemes. However, some crops for non-food use (eg essential oil crops) may be grown outside such schemes and out-with any arable support scheme, in addition some food crops may be diverted to non-food uses (eg wheat for starch). Accurate information on such crops and crop movements is not centrally collated. The data therefore represents an underestimate of the true non-food crop area and production statistics.
2. Data presented for Short Rotation Coppice and Miscanthus areas represents information collated under the Energy Crops Scheme on planting grant applications and applications under the Woodland Grant Scheme.
3. Data for non-food crops grown on set-aside and crops for energy grown on non-set-aside land in receipt of payments under the new Energy Aid Payment Scheme was derived from data collated by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA). 32,927 ha of rape were grown on main regime land in 2004 for biodiesel production—this is included in the figures for oilseed rape in the table.
4. Data for Linseed is derived from Defra Statistics for main regime land and the RPA for production on set-aside (999 ha).
5. Data for flax and hemp areas and production is derived from declarations under the UK Flax and Hemp Fibre Regime.

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