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15 Nov 2005 : Column 1051W—continued

Beef Exports

Mr. Crabb: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps she has taken since May to promote the export of British beef; and what recent assessment she has made of the prospects for beef exports. [17482]

Mr. Bradshaw: Promotion of beef exports is undertaken primarily by the Meat and Livestock Commission (MLC), their devolved bodies such as Hybu Cig Cymru in Wales and the beef industry itself. The Government recently fully supported their efforts to promote British beef at the International Food Fair, ANUGA, in Cologne in early October. On 14 October, Lord Bach held a high level meeting with the industry, agreeing to work together on opening up export markets for beef once the export ban is lifted.

The European Commission has acknowledged that the essential preconditions for lifting the EU export ban have been fulfilled. We are now awaiting proposals from the Commission for legislation to lift the ban. Such proposals would have to be submitted to EU member states to consider in the Standing Committee for the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH). If the member states were to vote in favour of the proposals in SCoFCAH, they would be translated into all EU languages and presented to the College of Commissioners for formal adoption. We hope that these processes will be completed in early 2006. but this is a best case scenario. We will continue to argue for an early resumption of beef exports.

The MLC estimate that UK beef exports could be about 40,000 tonnes, divided equally between prime beef and cow beef, in the first year after the ban is lifted.
 
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Biodegradable Waste Pilot Schemes

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs where the 10 pilot plants funded by the Waste Implementation Programme for new waste technologies for the treatment of biodegradable municipal waste will be sited; and what types of technology will be used. [27099]

Mr. Bradshaw: The information requested is as follows:

Defra's Waste Implementation Programme—New Technologies Demonstration Programme

Subject to contractual closure and also planning, permitting and licensing requirements the following projects have been identified as possible demonstration projects:

Biofuels

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what support is available to farmers to grow crops for biofuels. [22176]

Mr. Morley: Help is available to farmers to grow crops for use in the generation of biomass heat and electricity and transport biofuels. £29 million was made available under the Energy Crops Scheme to support the planting of short rotation coppice (SRC) and miscanthus, and the setting up of producer groups to supply SRC to biomass heat and electricity end-users. The £3.5 million Bio-energy Infrastructure Scheme, which is now closed for applications, provides grants to develop the supply chain for purpose-grown energy crops, straw and woodfuel from harvest through to delivery to biomass energy end-users. Defra-funded research projects on crops for biomass heat and electricity are looking to develop disease resistant varieties and increase yields. Best practice guidance is available for growing SRC and miscanthus. Farmers growing crops for biomass heat and electricity and transport biofuels can receive the Single Payment for certain crops grown on set-aside or where the 45/ha Energy Aid payment is claimed for crops on non set-aside land. It was announced on 10 November that the Government will introduce a Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation which will require 5 per cent. of transport fuel sold in the UK to come from a renewable source by 2010. This may open up opportunities for farmers to supply crops to be used to produce biofuels.
 
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Bird Markets

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what compensation will be offered to those who cannot hold bird markets and auctions as a result of the European Commission's Decision 2005/745/EC. [27521]

Mr. Bradshaw: It is not Government policy to compensate for losses consequent upon the implementation of EU legislation.

Bovine Tuberculosis

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions she has had with the Prime Minister on a policy towards bovine tuberculosis. [28033]

Mr. Bradshaw: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State holds regular meetings with the Prime Minister and other colleagues on a range of issues.

Cetacean By-catch

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions she has had with (a) the European Commission, (b) France and (c) other EU member states regarding actions necessary to reduce cetacean by-catch. [27402]

Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 11 November 2005]: Previous discussions with the European Commission and other member states, following pressure from the UK, resulted in the adoption in April 2004 of Community measures to address cetacean by-catch (Council Regulation EC No. 812/2004). These measures include the mandatory use of observers to widen knowledge of where by-catch occurs and the use of pingers to deter porpoises from gill nets. A review of the effectiveness of these measures is due to take place in 2007–08.

More recently, pressure from the UK in relation to common dolphin by-catch in the Western Channel secured agreement at the Agriculture and Fisheries Council of Ministers' meeting in March 2005 to an early review by the International Council for the Exploration of Sea (ICES) of the interaction of fisheries and common dolphins in the North East Atlantic. Following publication of this ICES advice, Commissioner Borg has written in September 2005 to all member states stressing the urgent need to provide timely reports to the Commission on the results from the observer schemes required under the council regulation to ensure that any future by-catch reduction measures can be targeted effectively.

Climate Change

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will support legally binding targets to tackle climate change. [28798]

Mr. Morley: As yet, there have been no formal intergovernmental discussions of the design of a future commitment period under the Kyoto protocol. The UK will chair the EU at the UN climate change conference
 
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at the end of this year at which the first formal discussion will take place when the parties of the Kyoto protocol meet for the first time.

The EU is also looking forward to using this discussion to initiate a process among all parties to explore how to implement better the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Following this conference, next year we plan to start discussions to prepare the UK position on further action.

The UK Government and the EU want to build on the Kyoto protocol and its key elements such as targets and timetables, monitoring and reporting, compliance and the flexibility mechanisms for the period after 2012. At the March meeting of the European Council of Ministers, the European Heads of Government stated that the EU looks forward to exploring with other parties strategies for achieving necessary emission reductions and believes that in this context, reduction pathways for the group of developed countries in the order of 15–30 per cent. by 2020, compared to the baseline envisaged in the Kyoto protocol and in the spirit of the conclusions of the Environment

Council should be considered.

Peter Law: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what proposals the United Kingdom plans to put to the 11th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the Climate Change Convention to be held in Montreal from 28 November to 9 December. [28950]

Mr. Morley: The EU agreed its negotiating strategy for the upcoming Montreal conference at the Environment Council of 17 October. Its priority is to get the Kyoto Protocol off to a good start and ensure it is operating efficiently. This includes adoption of the Marrakech Accords, the rule book for the protocol. The EU confirmed its determination to meets its commitments under the UN Framework Convention and Protocol, including on funding to assist developing countries. The EU also set an objective to launch discussions on a process to determine further action after the Kyoto Protocol first commitment period.


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