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David T.C. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many employees have been dismissed by her Department in each of the last five years for which figures are available. 
Jim Knight: Environmental Stewardship was launched by the Secretary of State on 3 March 2005. The first applications under the higher level strand of the scheme have been lodged over the summer and continue to be received. Development of the supporting IT has taken longer than hoped but I now expect the first higher level stewardship agreements to come into effect from 1 February next year.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the reason for the delay to the commencement, due on 1 November, of payments to applicants to the Higher Level Stewardship scheme; and if she will arrange for such applicants to be paid the entry level scheme payment by means of an interim arrangement. 
Jim Knight [holding answer 11 November 2005]: Testing of the IT system required to support the development of Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) agreements has proved more challenging than expected. It is essential that the system is sufficiently robust to develop complete and accurate agreements that fully satisfy our regulatory obligations. While we had hoped to issue the first agreements from 1 November this year, delayed delivery of the IT system will now mean the first HLS agreements will commence early in the new year. Payments for the scheme commence from six months after the start of an agreement and at six monthly intervals thereafter.
In recognition of the delay we are looking at a mechanism to support the early participation in the Entry Level strand of Environmental Stewardship without applicants having to go through the application process a second time. Officials are currently working on guidance to support this process.
Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much has been given under the (a) higher and (b) entry stewardship scheme in each year since they were introduced. 
Jim Knight: Environmental Stewardship was launched by the Secretary of State on 3 March 2005, however the first Entry Level agreements were not scheduled to come into effect until 1 August 2005. Under the scheme the first payments are made to agreement holders six months from the agreement start date, therefore, the first grants do not become payable until February 2006.
The first Higher Level Stewardship agreements are now expected to come into effect from early next year. The first payments for these agreements also fall due some six months following the agreement start date and at six monthly intervals thereafter
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Mr. Henderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the reasons industrial purchasers of sugar in the EU pay more than the institutional price for sugar. 
Jim Knight: The main reason for the difference between institutional and market prices is the current system of national sugar quotas. The limitation of production by quota has produced a fragmented EU market which provides little incentive for competition between sugar processors in different member states. The EU Commission's proposals for reform of the sugar regime are expected to increase trade between member states and competition between beet processors and cane refiners. Further analysis of these issues is given in the Government's regulatory impact assessment of options for reform of the EU Sugar Regime.
Mr. Henderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will recommend to the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry that she refer the UK sugar processing sector to the Competition Commission. 
Mr. Henderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of whether tradable sugar quotas, as proposed in the European Commission's Communication of July 2004, would be beneficial to UK (a) industry, (b) agriculture and (c) consumers. 
Jim Knight: The European Commission's Communication of July 2004 was a further discussion of options for reform, preparatory to the tabling of formal legislative proposals in June this year. In making its definitive proposals the Commission decided not to proceed with a tradable quota scheme. The analysis relating to this was summarised in the explanatory material and impact assessment studies which the Commission published at the time. A further discussion of these issues is contained in the Government's own regulatory impact assessment, copies of which are available in the Library of the House.
|Number of successful applicants|
|Bournemouth and West Hampshire||73|
|Folkestone and Dover||12|
|South East Water||91|
|Sutton and East Surrey||38|
|England and Wales||9,217|
Mr. Iain Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 28 October 2005, Official Report, column 597W, on the A19, (1) what steps his Department is taking to reduce the number of personal injury accidents on the A19 between Tyneside and Teesside; 
Dr. Ladyman: The Highways Agency carried out a Route Management Strategy, on the A19 in 2003 that included an assessment of accident rates and identified specific lengths of carriageway where there was an increased risk of personal injury accidents. While this road is better than the national average for 'A' roads in terms of personal injury accidents, a number of improvement schemes were carried out in 200304. These included improved lighting, road markings and safety fencing schemes. The Highways Agency will continue to monitor accident trends regularly.
The strategy also identified a need to undertake a Central Reserve Gaps study that has been recently completed. Any high priority gap closure schemes identified in this study will be included in the Highways Agency forward programme of safety improvements subject to funds being available.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the (a) practicality of converting aircraft to run on bio-ethanol and (b) carbon emission implications of such a switch. 
[holding answer 21 November 2005]: The UK project The Potential for Renewable Energy Sources in Aviation" produced by Imperial College Centre for Energy, Policy and Technology in 2003 for
22 Nov 2005 : Column 1854W
DTI, studied the options for potential renewable fuels for civil aviation. The study examined a whole range of alternative fuels and energy sources including bio-ethanol. Bio-ethanol was found to be inherently unsuitable as it does not contain sufficient energy for a jet fuel, in either mass or volume terms. The practical implications of these two factors are that aircraft range would be reduced compared to conventional fuels, and even if air-frames were redesigned with significantly larger fuel capacity, their take-off weight would be too high.
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