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15 Nov 2005 : Column 1067W—continued


Anne Main: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what is the expected response time to a report of unusual die-off in pigeons or other wild birds to the departmental help-line by a departmental representative; and if she will make a statement. [27526]

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Mr. Bradshaw: During normal office hours, following a call to the Defra help line, an immediate initial assessment is made and if necessary the caller is referred to a VLA (Veterinary Laboratories Agency) laboratory in England and Wales or an SAC (Scottish Agricultural College) laboratory in Scotland. Outside normal office hours, if necessary, the caller will be referred to the State Veterinary Service. If required, carcase collection by a representative from the State Veterinary Service or Rural Development Service will be arranged. The response time will depend on an overall assessment of the die off.

Radioactive Waste

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate she has made of the volume in cubic metres of (a) high level, (b) intermediate level and (c) low level stocks of radioactive waste in (i) 2010, (ii) 2020 and (iii) 2030, assuming projected closure of nuclear power stations occurs. [27827]

Mr. Morley: The estimated volumes, expressed in cubic metres of conditioned (a) high level and (b) intermediate levels stocks of radioactive waste in 2010, 2020 and 2030 respectively are given in the table. It has been assumed that the projected closure of nuclear power stations occurs.
Cubic metres

DateHigh levelIntermediate level

Since it is anticipated that the approximate annual arisings of 10,000 cubic metres of low level radioactive waste will be disposed of as it arises, the stocks in storage will remain low, but not quantified, over this time period.

Regional Advisory Council for North Western Waters

Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on UK participation in the Regional Advisory Council for North Western Waters. [27820]

Mr. Bradshaw: A wide range of the UK catching sector (such as producer organisations and those who represent processors) and other interest groups (such as consumer and conservation groups) are participating in the Regional Advisory Council for North Western Waters, on the General Assembly, the Executive Committee and various working groups.

Defra and the Devolved Administrations have been actively supporting the establishment process (I attended the inaugural General Assembly meeting on
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30 September 2005) and participating as active observers in the first set of meetings that were held on 7 and 8 November.

Renewable Heat Obligation

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for what reason the Task Force on Biomass ruled out a renewable heat obligation. [25234]

Mr. Morley: The Task Force's views on this subject are set out in its report which was published on 25 October and in the earlier emerging conclusions and draft recommendations report of August 2005. They considered a scheme whereby an obligation would be held by the suppliers of the fossil fuels from which heat is produced, and renewable heat certificates would be granted to heat producers and users who could demonstrate that they had substituted renewable heat for fossil-fired heat. However, they judged that such a scheme would be complex since most heat is not supplied by commercial companies but is produced by domestic and industrial/commercial end-users by using purchased fuel in boilers which they themselves own. They reported that a fundamental flaw in the proposal was that the obligation would rest with a supplier who had no control over the many, varied and often small users and producers of heat. In view of the complexities, they also noted that it would take considerable time to draw up a suitable scheme. They concluded that quicker progress would be achieved by offering capital grants to aid all biomass heating boilers and the heat element of combined heat and power (CHP) biomass-fuelled plants.


Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list the secondees from British Nuclear Fuel Group (a) working and (b) who have worked during the last 12 months in her Department; what their (i) job role and title and (ii) grade is; and what the responsibilities were of each of the secondees. [28670]

Mr. Morley: There are no secondees from British Nuclear Fuel Group working, or who have worked, during the last 12 months in the Department.

Sewerage Discharges

Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many sewerage discharges into the sea were permitted in each of the last five years at (a) Goodrington beach, (b) Paignton beach, (c) Preston beach, (d) Torre Abbey Sands, (e) Meadfoot beach and (f) Oddicombe beach; and how many sewerage discharges have been recorded at each location in each year. [25922]

Mr. Morley: The following table presents the intermittent sewer overflows discharging to sea associated with the beaches in the question. Sewer overflows are needed to prevent flooding, and the overloading of the sewage treatment works, when the additional rainwater run-off collected by the Torbay sewerage system exceeds its design capacity.
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Beach nameAssociated combined sewer overflows (CSOs)
to sea
(a) Paignton beachRoundham Road
Paignton Green Tank
(b) Preston beachPreston Green Tank
(c) Torre Abbey SandsBeacon Hill
Fleet Walk No 1
Fleet Walk No 2
(d) Meadfoot beachIlsham Valley Pumping Station
Ilsham Marine Drive
(e) Oddicombe beachNo sea outfalls associated with this beach

In addition, two other emergency overflows: Clennon Valley Pumping Station—Goodrington beach—and Fleet Walk Pumping Station—Torre Abbey Sands—are also consented in case of equipment failure.

All sewer overflows are consented by the Environment Agency. The design standards and consents have been set to ensure compliance of the receiving waters with the EC bathing waters, and where applicable EC shellfish waters, directives. The design standard for the overflows associated with:

As the sewerage company has implemented the design standards agreed with the Environment Agency, it is not considered necessary to monitor the overflows. Therefore, although I cannot provide information on the recorded overflow discharges, the Environment Agency expect:

All the listed bathing waters consistently meet the mandatory standard of the bathing waters directive, and often the higher guideline standards.


Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what is the predicted future annual number of days when there is snowfall for (a) London, (b) Edinburgh, (c) Bristol and (d) Inverness in (i) 2010, (ii) 2020, (iii) 2030 and (iv) 2050. [27925]

Mr. Morley: In April 2002, the Department published new Climate Change Scenarios for the UK". These scenarios include information on total winter snowfall amounts, but not number of snowfall days. Snowfall totals decline substantially over the whole UK and in all scenarios, with the largest percentage reductions around the coast and in the English lowlands.
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While there are no robust estimates at the scale of individual cities, the scenarios indicate that in the London, Edinburgh, Bristol and Inverness areas snowfall could be reduced by up to 55, 50, 57 and 59 per cent. respectively, by the 2050s (compared to the 1961–90 average baseline), depending on the degree of future climate change.

For the particular years in question a general scaling back of the UK-wide data gives the following estimates of the reduction in snowfall over these periods, depending on whether there is a low or high degree of climate change:

201017 to 30
202022 to 38
203027 to 47
205037 to 65

These figures represent general trends, not predictions of the amount of snowfall in specific years, which will be greatly influenced by natural year-to-year variability, particularly in the first few decades of the century.

Further information is available in the full report in the Libraries of both Houses, and more information may be available when the UK Climate Change Scenarios" are updated in 2007.

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