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Badgers

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment her Department has made of the relative suffering caused to badgers when they are killed by means of (a) carbon monoxide, (b) carbon dioxide and (c) other gases. [29877]


 
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Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 21 November 2005]: The Government will shortly be making an announcement on preventing the further spread of bovine TB. The evidence considered in developing the Government's approach will be published at the time.

Bird Imports (Border Procedures)

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what procedures are undertaken at border inspection posts to ensure that the documentation accompanying imported captive birds is genuine. [30723]

Mr. Bradshaw: Before the ban on captive birds was implemented, the only third countries that could export captive birds to the EU had to be members of the World Organisation for Animal Health (the OIE). The OIE's Terrestrial Animal Health Code lays down the standards of certification members have to apply.

Captive birds imported into the EU from third countries must enter at designated Border Inspection Posts where they are subject to veterinary inspections. All consignments are subject to documentary and identity checks to ensure that import conditions are met.

The captive birds must be accompanied by a health certificate, as laid down in Community law. The Official Veterinary Surgeon at the border inspection post will check to ensure that the certificate accompanying the birds conforms to this model, has been completed correctly, has been signed and stamped, and is genuine.

Bovine Tuberculosis

Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment she has made of the risk to cattle herds in Northamptonshire from bovine tuberculosis. [30863]

Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 22 November 2005]: Statistics on bovine TB are aggregated according to the office structure of the state veterinary service (SVS). Northamptonshire is not currently a recognised region within the SVS structure. As a result it is not possible to disaggregate data on bovine TB in cattle herds in this manner We are, however, able to provide data for the Leicester Animal Health Divisional Office (AHDO) which covers Northamptonshire.

Our latest assessment shows that in the Leicester AHDO area there were 39 new TB incidents in the first nine months of 2005, compared to 30 in 2004. Supplementary data also show that 1.8 per cent. of herds were restricted due to a TB incident in the first nine months of 2005, compared to 1.3 per cent. in 2004.

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of the polymerase chain reaction test for M. bovis DNA in (a) identifying infected material around badger setts and (b) combating bovine tuberculosis; and if she will make a statement. [29866]

Mr. Bradshaw: The detection of Mycobacterium bovis directly from live badgers and their excretions using techniques based on the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is complex and difficult. Largely this is because of the low levels and intermittent nature of excretion of M.bovis by infected animals. Currently the most robust
 
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PCR techniques for use on any sample (cattle, badger or environmental) are specific for M. tuberculosis complex and not M. bovis. Small scale use of this technique on environmental samples has highlighted the practical difficulties in obtaining good quality DMA and specificity is a further problem. The results so far have not been encouraging, but we are looking to see if improvements can be made.

Research using conventional laboratory-based PCR has shown that the technique is not yet able to perform as well as conventional bacterial culture in the detection of M. bovis. However, the PCR technique may well have a future role to play in helping to combat the disease in cattle by helping to reduce the time taken to confirm a herd breakdown. Our research is designed to look more closely at this aspect of disease control.

Brazilian Beef

Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations her Department has made on ensuring that Brazil's animal traceability systems are improved following recent incidents of foot and mouth disease in that country; and if her Department will introduce a full ban on Brazilian beef imports. [30082]

Mr. Bradshaw: Each consignment of imported meat must be accompanied by appropriate health certification. The certificate confirms the territory from which the animals originated. In addition the animal must have been subjected to ante and post-mortem inspection and the meat must be deboned and matured. This process ensures that imported meat does not present a risk.

All meat imported into the EU from third countries must enter at designated border inspection posts (BIPs) where it is subject to veterinary inspections. All consignments are subject to documentary and identity checks and at least 20 per cent. of consignments undergo physical checks. These ensure import conditions are met and that the products remain in a satisfactory condition during transport.

Following recent outbreaks of foot and mouth disease, the Brazilian authorities have imposed additional internal movement controls on animals from the affected area.

The European Commission's Food and Veterinary Office is responsible for carrying out inspections in the third countries from which meat is imported into the Community. An inspection visit was carried out in Brazil in September. The outcome of that inspection is not yet available, but Commission Services would have taken immediate action to protect animal and public health if they thought this was necessary.

WTO rules allow protective measures to be taken on the basis of scientific evidence and these measures must be adapted to regional conditions. Therefore, following notification of the recent outbreak, immediate action was taken to ban imports of meat from the affected regions.
 
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Calf Exports

Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what her policy is on the resumption of the export of live calves to Europe. [31018]

Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 22 November 2005]: The Government is working towards lifting the current ban on exports of UK beef, bovine products and live cattle and we expect the European Commission to submit proposals to other EU member states to lift the ban. Our objective is to be able to trade on the same basis as other EU member states for cattle born after July 1996 and for products derived from them.

If the ban is lifted, any live exports would be subject to the rigorous application of health and welfare rules.

Contaminated Land Capital Projects Programme

Mr. Iain Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) how long it took for each eligible area to receive funding from her Department's Contaminated Land Capital Projects Programme from the time that her Department was notified of payment of the funding to the affected area; [30569]

(2) how many contaminated land areas have been eligible for funding under her Department's Contaminated Land Capital Projects Programme; [30573]

(3) how many contaminated land areas have been rectified by identified class A polluters without recourse to her Department's Contaminated Land Capital Projects Programme in the last five years; [30575]

(4) what the criteria are for eligibility of contaminated land areas for funding under her Department's Contaminated Land Capital Projects Programme. [30576]

Mr. Bradshaw: The Department's Contaminated Land Capital Projects Programme (CLCPP) provides financial assistance to English local authorities for contaminated land capital projects. It covers both investigation and remediation work by authorities. It does not fund work by other parties. It is delivered to successful authorities as supported capital expenditure (revenue) via the next available revenue support grant settlement after expenditure by the authority. In 2004–05 we approved 163 bids. Approval times vary, but two months is common for straightforward cases. Sites and projects may involve more than one bid, for example where work is in stages.

The eligibility criteria for this programme are at section 2 of CLAN1/05, A Guide for English Local Authorities". Local authorities were made aware of the guide. A copy is on DEFRA's website at: http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/land/contaminated/approvals/index.htm, which is updated each year.

We do not hold information about investigation or remedial work undertaken without recourse to our programme. Where the case is the subject of action under part 11A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, then
 
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information is placed on the relevant public register held by each local authority. The DEFRA website details overall numbers of part 11A cases at http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/land/contaminated/faq.htm This data on part 11A regulatory activity is regularly updated. Many contaminated sites are dealt with through the development of land and the grant of planning permission, and applications and decisions are placed on the local planning register.


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