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Global Warming

Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions she has had with experts on the effects of global warming on coastline and river levels. [37248]

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Mr. Morley: The Department funds much of the UK work on climate change, its impacts and appropriate adaptation measures and so we are in regular contact with leading experts in this field.

The main effects on the coastline relate to sea level rise, compounded by long term land movement. For the UK, estimates were published in the 2002 UK Climate Impacts Programme (UKCIP) Scenarios of Climate change. Other factors include the frequency, duration and intensity of storms which drive waves and surges.

The effect of climate change on river levels depends on complex interactions between rainfall patterns (including both the frequency, intensity and duration of severe storms and longer term rainfall patterns that determine the degree of catchment wetness) and physical catchment characteristics.

The Department has since 1989 issued precautionary guidance on the climate change impacts that should be taken into account when designing flood and coastal erosion risk management measures. This was last updated in 2003 to take account of the UKCIP 2002 scenarios and other specific research on river and coastal impacts. The guidance is kept under review in the light of emerging research results; for example, those presented by leading experts at DEFRA's conference on 'Dangerous Climate Change', held in Exeter in early 2005. In developing our new Strategy for Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management—Making Space for Water-we have made a specific commitment to review our guidance in 2007. To support this review DEFRA has just commissioned a major piece of research over a 30 month period to understand, better the potential impacts on river flow of a range of future climate scenarios.

GM Products

Alan Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent international experience she has examined in relation to the withdrawal of GM products for reasons of their effect on (a) the environment and (b) animal welfare. [36423]

Mr. Morley: Under EU legislation each proposed release of a GM product is subject to a detailed risk assessment which involves careful scrutiny by independent scientists. An evaluation is made of all the risk factors that may arise, including the impact on the environment and animal welfare. This takes account of both British and international experience in the form both of relevant evidence from tests and trials, and in the form of existing scientific knowledge.

Once a GMO has been approved, it is possible that new scientific evidence (from either British or international sources) may come to light which might warrant a reassessment of the approval. There areprovisions under the terms of EU legislation which allow a member state to take safeguard action in these circumstances, if this is justified by the new information.

Ensuring safety is the Government's clear overriding objective, and we will only agree to the release of a GM product if we are satisfied that it is safe.
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Greenhouse Gases

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 29 November 2005, Official Report, column 312W, on greenhouse gases, what estimate she has made of the change in carbon dioxide emissions from current levels to the Kyoto target period which will result from (a) changes in the future of energy supply, (b) economic activity, (c) fuel prices, (d) sectoral trends, (e) effects of current and future policy measures and (f) other major factors. [36587]

Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 12 December 2005]: I have been asked to reply.

Work to update the energy projections published in November 2004 is continuing. My Department is aiming to publish information on the projections in due course.

The November 2004 projections can be found at: with an addendum later published, which extended the projections to 2020. This can be found at:


Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures her Department is taking to encourage the use of markets. [35582]

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.

My noble Friend, Lord Bach, spoke at the Making markets, Creating places" conference held at Borough Market in June 2005. That conference focused on the key role markets can play in towns and cities and highlighted their potential for supporting the growing numbers of quality food producers looking to sell their products. The event brought together leaders in the
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urban regeneration and food policy fields along with those who have been at the forefront of revitalising city centre markets in the UK.

Pegasus Birds Quarantine Centre

Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of whether a public health issue would arise if a hospital worker was running the Pegasus Birds quarantine centre. [28715]

Ms Rosie Winterton: I have been asked to reply.

Avian influenza does not easily cross the species barrier from birds to people, and there is no confirmed evidence that avian influenza is transmissible from person to person.

The normal infection control measures that are taken to protect people against the risk of any zoonotic diseases that birds can carry and to prevent infection of those caring for birds should protect against avian influenza risks.

Guidance on avoiding the risk of zoonotic infections, including avian influenza is available on the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) website and on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website.


Mr. Meacher: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what meetings with pesticide companies the Government has had in the preparation of its response to the report by the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, crop spraying and the health of residents and bystanders; and what meetings with pesticide companies are planned. [35798]

Mr. Morley: My noble Friend, the Lord Bach, will be meeting with representatives of the Crop Protection Association on 11 January 2006. He has not held any other meetings with pesticide companies since the launch of the RCEP report in September and no other such meetings are currently planned.

Mr. Meacher: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which Government Departments will be involved in consultations and discussions about the Government's response to the report by the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, crop spraying and the health of residents and bystanders. [35799]

Mr. Morley: DEFRA is currently addressing the recommendations and will co-ordinate a Government response by next summer. As part of this process DEFRA will be discussing the recommendations with a number of government departments and agencies and particularly those, such as the Department of Health and the Health and Safety Executive, which have responsibility relevant to some of the areas covered by the report.

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