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Avian Influenza

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps she is taking to improve surveillance to try to prevent avian influenza in the United Kingdom. [42251]

Mr. Bradshaw: We have introduced new surveillance arrangements on certain species of migratory water birds with our European partners, and we are working closely with a range of industry groups. Poultry keepers in the UK have also been advised on improved biosecurity and surveillance measures.


Mr. Bone: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what assessment she has made of the proportion of crops grown for biodiesel production which were used in the production of biodiesel in the last period for which figures are available; and if she will make a statement; [40543]

(2) how much land was used to produce crops for biodiesel production in the last period for which figures are available. [40544]

Mr. Morley: In 2005, 39,000 hectares of oilseed rape were grown on non set-aside land in England under the Energy Aid Scheme for use in the production of biodiesel. A further 26,000 hectares were grown on non set-aside land for industrial use but further details of the end-use are not available. 67,000 hectares of oilseed rape
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were grown on set-aside land for industrial use. Further details of the end-use are not available, but most is likely to be for biodiesel production.

Chemicals (Safety Investigations)

Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the Environment Agency report 'Better Environment, Healthier People', (1) which categories of chemicals she will prioritise for health and safety investigation after flame retardants and pharmaceuticals; [40879]

(2) what plans she has to accelerate further research to establish the health and safety implications of the 30,000 untested industrial chemicals in commercial use. [41172]

Mr. Morley: The Government have set up a UK Co-ordinated Chemical Risk Management Programme, led by DEFRA and the Environment Agency. The Programme has been put in place to take forward the hazard and risk assessment, and risk management, of chemicals in the period leading up to the first assessments under REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals), which is the main vehicle for assessing the large number of chemicals in use about which we currently have insufficient data.

The following criteria will be used to help select chemicals for inclusion in the programme:

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The UK Chemicals Stakeholder Forum also continues to investigate groups of chemicals based on their potential persistence, bioaccumulation and toxicity and to make recommendations to the Government based on this work. The categories of chemicals currently being addressed by the UK Chemicals Stakeholder Forum include phenols and cresols, plastic additives and aromatic amines.

Energy Efficiency (Swindon)

Anne Snelgrove: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what funding is available to promote energy efficiency among households in Swindon. [42171]

Mr. Morley: Support for energy efficiency among households is available through a number of routes. Details of grants and offers for energy efficiency measures in a particular area are available, by postcode, on the website of the Energy Saving Trust, which is funded by my Department to promote and support energy efficiency in the household sector. This includes grants under the Government's Warm Front programme—to increase the energy efficiency of vulnerable households, contributing heavily to the eradication of fuel poverty in the UK. The Trust also runs a network of Energy Efficiency Advice Centres (EEACs) which provide free, impartial and locally relevant advice to householders. The Swindon area is covered by the Dorset and Wiltshire EEAC.

EU Committees

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many meetings of the EU (a) Committee for the implementation of legislation on ambient air quality assessment and management, (b) Committee for the adaptation to technical and scientific progress of the air quality limit values and guide values for sulphur dioxide and suspended particulates and (c) Committee for the adaptation to technical progress of the directive on air quality standards for nitrogen dioxide have taken place during the UK presidency of the EU; who was presiding over each meeting; what other UK representatives were present; what provisions were made for representation of the devolved governments; and if she will make a statement. [38787]

Mr. Bradshaw: There were no meetings of the three air quality Committees during the UK presidency.

European Council

Peter Law: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what information her Department has obtained from the European Commission on the action plan on energy efficiency to which reference was made at paragraph 17 of the conclusions of the European Council meeting on 17 December 2005. [41541]

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Mr. Morley: The European Commission published its Green Paper on Energy Efficiency, Doing More With Less" in June last year. Consultation on the proposals in the Green Paper for improving energy efficiency within the EU closes on 31 March 2006. Following the close of consultation, the Commission have announced their intention to produce in 2006 an Energy Efficiency Action Plan which will set out those concrete actions that the Commission intend to take forward from the Green Paper, accompanied by the necessary cost-benefit analyses.


Greg Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what work her Department undertakes on the promotion of microgeneration, with particular reference to the promotion of crops for microgeneration; and how many civil servants in her Department are dedicated full-time to such work. [42017]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 16 January 2006]: The Department of Trade and Industry leads for the Government on microgeneration. DEFRA works closely with them in the identification and development of cost effective measures to help new and existing microgeneration technologies make a significant contribution to our energy policy goals. DEFRA has a particular interest in micro-combined heat and power (CHP) and is supporting the Carbon Trust in its assessment of the carbon saving potential of this technology.

DEFRA is keen to promote the use of biomass for heat and power generation. Grants are available to establish energy crops and to set up producer groups and supply chains for biomass. Farmers can receive the Single Payment for energy crops grown on set-aside or where the €45/ha energy aid payment is claimed for crops on non set-aside land. Research to improve disease resistance and crop yields is being undertaken. A cross-departmental team is looking carefully at the recommendations from the Biomass Task Force on ways to overcome the barriers to developing biomass energy. The Government will publish a full response by April.

A number of officials work on the promotion of CHP and biomass energy, which includes issues relevant to microgeneration.

Milk Sales

Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much milk was sold through retail outlets in each year since 1990; and what proportion of this was imported. [38973]

Mr. Bradshaw: The following table shows the relevant figures:
Estimated UK household purchases and imports of drinking milk (million litres)

UK household purchases(4)Imports(5)Imports as a percentage of purchases

(4) Estimated by Defra using the Expenditure and Food Survey and ONS figures for the resident UK population.
(5) Source HM Revenue and Customs.
(6) From 2001 onwards estimated purchases are for the financial years 2001–02, 2002–03 etc.

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