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14 Dec 2005 : Column 2009W—continued

Departmental Tendering Policy

Martin Horwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what her policy is on including (a) ethical and (b) environmental factors in tenders for services. [33331]

Mr. Morley: DEFRA expects to let all its contracts in accordance with moral principles, and would consider any case where evidence to the contrary was presented.

Environmental factors in contracts let by DEFRA have been considered on a case by case basis relative to the subject matter of the contract, and the requirements of Community law.

The Department will, very shortly, be making publicly available a Sustainable Procurement Toolkit" which will enhance further the consideration of environmental factors in public sector contracts.
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Departmental Vehicles

Mr. Crausby: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what proportion of vehicles used by her Department run on (a) petrol, (b) diesel and (c) liquefied petroleum gas. [36788]

Jim Knight: At 31 March 2005, the proportions of fleet vehicles owned by DEFRA and its Executive agencies, by fuel type are shown as follows:
(a) Petrol3.9
(b) Diesel90.8
(c) Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG)4.0
(d) Hybrid Electric Vehicles1.3

Fleet cars are subject to caps on CO 2 emissions according to engine size.

Business mileage is also undertaken by officials in their own vehicles. It is not possible to give a breakdown by fuel type.

Domestic Central Heating

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps the Government are taking to help people over 60 who cannot afford the cost of the installation and maintenance of domestic central heating. [36822]

Mr. Morley: The Government's Warm Front Scheme in England provides a range of heating and insulation measures to householders in receipt of certain benefits. Where a new central heating system is installed, customers are provided with guidance on the efficient use of the system and two annual service visits. There are similar schemes in place in each of the devolved Administrations.

Warm Front has now assisted over one million households since its launch in June 2000. The new phase of the scheme was launched in June 2005, and is better equipped to target and assist those most in need in a sustainable way.

In the pre-Budget report, the Chancellor announced that an additional £300 million would be made available to tackle fuel poverty across the UK. In England, this means that an additional £250 million will be made available both to boost the Warm Front Scheme and extend its ability to provide central heating to poor pensioners, and to provide £300 off the cost of a central heating system for all other pensioners.

More information on the range of measures installed under Warm Front (including a breakdown of measures installed by constituency in England) and its equivalents in the devolved Administrations is available at

Farmers' Markets

Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assistance her Department gives to farmers markets in rural areas. [37270]

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Jim Knight: Farmers' markets, which this department has responsibility for, are an important outlet for local food producers, with the added advantage that the direct sales they can stimulate leave producers with a bigger share of the retail price. They have been shown to help bring life back into town centres and to stimulate trade in surrounding shops on days when they are held. They can also play a part in reinstating a more individual character to the local area, where high street uniformity has possibly crept in, and in restoring a more traditional 'market town' atmosphere.

The Department has encouraged farmers' markets by stressing to local authorities the benefits to the rural economy and to town centres which such markets can bring. In addition, we have also provided funding, at both a national and regional level, under our various grant schemes to help establish and raise awareness of farmers' markets. Earlier this year we provided funding for the 'Farmers Market' conference organised by The National Farmers' Retail and Market Association (FARMA) which was held at the Royal Horticultural Halls in London. Officials meet regularly with representatives from FARMA (an organisation that represents over 700 direct selling outlets) to explore how we can work together on our common goals of reconnecting farmers to their markets and helping them to add value.

Flood Defences (East Sussex)

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether she plans to increase funding for flood defences in Robertsbridge, East Sussex; and whether the funds will be spent on flood defences along Northbridge street. [36900]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 13 December 2005]: I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer I gave him on 30 November 2005, Official Report, column 508W. Northbridge street is protected by the new £4.5 million Robertsbridge flood alleviation scheme. It has the same standard of protection from flooding by the River Rother as the rest of Robertsbridge, that is against all flood events except those with a probability of occurrence in any one year of less than 1 per cent.

Flood Maps

Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the level of accuracy is of flood maps drawn up by the Environment Agency. [36126]

Mr. Morley: The Flood Map, which replaced the Environment Agency's previous Indicative Floodplain Map in October 2004, combines data from a number of sources, and therefore it is not possible to put a precise figure on its 'accuracy'.

Flood mapping is a complex, detailed and extensive process that will never be completely accurate but the Environment Agency is committed top provide the best currently available information using nationally consistent principles.

The Flood Map incorporates the Environment Agency's local detailed model data for over 800 flooding 'hotspots'. It was produced using an in depth survey, detailed flow estimates and local knowledge.
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This is extended to cover the whole of the floodplain in England using national scale 'generalised' modelling and mapping. This uses data which, by its nature, is of varying levels of detail depending on, for example, local topography.

The information provided by the Flood Map therefore covers the flood plains across the whole of England using the latest technology, a consistent approach and the best available data. It shows areas that are at risk of flooding but cannot provide detail on individual properties.

The Environment Agency has an ongoing programme of improvements to the Flood Map, focusing on areas of highest risk and uncertainty. An updated Flood Map is published on the internet quarterly to incorporate this new information as it becomes available.


Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the potential for improving water absorption by tree-planting to reduce flooding; and if she will make a statement. [37112]

Mr. Morley: DEFRA is responsible for policy on flood risk management in England. There has been some research on the impacts of woodlands and forestry on flood run-off. Responses to the recent public consultation on Making Space for Water", DEFRA's developing new Strategy for Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management, reinforced the need to continue this area of investigation alongside consideration of how other rural land management techniques might contribute to managing flood risk.

Evidence to date suggests that, while there can be an impact on frequent flood events at the local scale, effects are much less certain for more extreme events at the wider catchment level.

Food Allergies

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will publish the new rules on food allergies; and what products are covered by those rules. [35109]

Caroline Flint: I have been asked to reply.

The Food Labelling (Amendment) (England) (No. 2) Regulations 2004 (SI 2004/2824) came into force on 26 November 2004. They establish a list of 12 foods that will have to be indicated by reference to the source allergen whenever they or their derived ingredients are used in pre-packed foods whatever the level of use. This list consists of cereals containing gluten (wheat, rye, barley, oats), crustaceans, eggs, fish, peanut, soya beans, milk, tree nuts (such as almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews, pistachios, brazil nuts), celery, mustard, sesame, sulphur dioxide and sulphites (above 10 mg/kg).

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