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1 Feb 2006 : Column 513W—continued


Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the effect of the acquisition of SevenCs by the UK Hydrographic Office on other commercial enterprises in the hydrographic industry. [47220]

Mr. Touhig [holding answer 31 January 2006]: Prior to the acquisition the UK Hydrographic Office concluded that a change of ownership of SevenCs would, of itself, have little or no effect on other commercial enterprises in the hydrographic industry. The acquisition should, however, work to the benefit of the industry as a whole by invigorating the development of digital navigation products, which will in turn enhance safety of life at sea.
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Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the acquisition of SevenCs by the UK Hydrographic Office. [47222]

Mr. Touhig [holding answer 31 January 2006]: On 30 November 2005 the UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO) acquired SevenCs, a leading navigational software development company, based in Hamburg. This acquisition was in line with the UKHO's strategic direction and within its remit as a Ministry of Defence Trading Fund.

The purpose of the acquisition was to ensure an open route to market for all digital navigational data, including the UKHO's. It was strategically important for the UKHO, and in order to discharge the UK's responsibilities under the International Convention on Safety of Life at Sea, that the UKHO safeguard an open system, which does not tie the end-user to a particular brand of data.


Mr. Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many UK military personnel are working (a) under the NATO flag and (b) under the EU in relief efforts in Sudan. [46861]

Mr. Ingram: The United Kingdom currently has one officer based in Ethiopia as NATO's senior military liaison officer to the African Union (AU), whose work includes supporting the AU mission in Darfur. A second officer will be deployed shortly and will be based in Sudan. The UK also has one officer based in Sudan as part of the EU support for the AU mission.



Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how the Government plan to assess whether they have met the target of halting biodiversity loss by 2010. [45688]

Jim Knight: The Standing Committee of the UK Biodiversity Partnership has agreed to use a set of 18 headline indicators to assess whether the target of halting biodiversity loss by 2010 has been met. These are based on the framework being used within the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. Some of the indicators are already published; others require further development. The full set of indicators is as follows:
Focal areasIndicators
Status and trends of the components of biological diversity1. Trends in populations of wild birds: (a) farmland birds; (b) woodland birds; (c) coastal and sea birds
2. Plant diversity in the wider countryside
3. Status of BAP Priority Species
4. Status of BAP Priority Habitats
5. Trends in genetic diversity of cultivated plants"
6 (a) Extent of SACs, SPAs and SSSI/ASSIs; (b) Proportion of features of SACs and SPAs in favourable condition
Sustainable use7. Proportion of woodland area under certified management
8. Area of land under agri-environment scheme agreement
9. Proportion of commercially exploited fish stocks around the UK harvested sustainably
Threats to biodiversity10. Nitrogen deposition
11. Number and costs of invasive alien species
12. Impact of climate change on biodiversity
Ecosystem integrity and ecosystem goods and services13. Marine trophic index
14. Connectivity/fragmentation of ecosystems
15. Water quality in aquatic ecosystems
Status of access and benefits sharing16. Percentage of European patent applications for inventions based on genetic resources and/or traditional knowledge that disclose the source of these resources and knowledge
Status of resource transfers and use17. Funding to biodiversity:
in economic and development cooperation (response)
in EU research, monitoring and management
Public opinion18. Public awareness and participation

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Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when the results of the 2005 reporting round for the UK Biodiversity Action Plan will be published; and how this information will be used to improve the delivery of biodiversity conservation up to 2010. [45689]

Jim Knight: The results will be published in a new report later this year. This will provide UK and county level information on how individual species and habitats are faring, emerging influences by sector, and constraints to delivery. We are committed to making full use of these results. And we will look to make them relevant to a range of different audiences and stakeholders.

The responsibility for implementing measures to conserve biodiversity is a devolved matter. And the results of the 2005 reporting round will feed into the individual strategies for biodiversity and the environment in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures the Government (a) have introduced and (b) are planning to introduce to halt biodiversity loss by 2010. [45690]

Jim Knight: Under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP) there are costed and targeted national action plans for 436 of our most threatened habitats and species in the UK. These are supported by approximately 150 local biodiversity action plans, often at county level. The most recently completed review of progress was conducted in 2002 and the latest published information on progress was issued in 2003: UK Biodiversity Action Plan—tracking progress". A further report on progress to 2005 will be published this year.

The England Biodiversity Strategy, Working with the grain of nature" was published in 2002. This brings together England's key contributions towards halting the loss of biodiversity by 2010. The strategy sets out a programme of activity to integrate biodiversity into policy making and practice. The third annual stock-take of progress under the strategy was published on 29 December 2005. This highlights coverage of more than 1 million hectares of land by Environmental Stewardship agreements, a new Planning Policy Statement on Biodiversity and Geological Conservation, a new policy on ancient and native woodland, and a substantial increase in investment in water and wetland management for wildlife.
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Under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Bill, we propose to extend a duty to all public authorities in England and Wales to have regard to the conservation of biodiversity in the exercise of their functions. And we are also committed to publishing a Marine Bill to provide a new framework for marine conservation.

We will publish new priorities, targets and plans for meeting our target of halting biodiversity loss by 2010, following reviews being undertaken under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.

The UK commitment towards international efforts to reduce the rate of loss of biodiversity by 2010 is contained in the World Summit on Sustainable Development Delivery Plan for international biodiversity ( The plans set out the intermediate steps needed to meet the UK's long term aims, and reports on progress to date.

The UK also continues to fund and administer the Darwin Initiative. This has played a major role in conserving endangered species and habitats throughout the world. Since its launch in 1992, we have committed more than £45 million to more than 400 projects in more than 100 countries.

Border-straddling Farms

James Duddridge: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many farms straddle the border between (a) England and Wales and (b) England and Scotland. [43333]

Jim Knight: The following figures relate to single payment scheme applications made in 2005:

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