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9 Feb 2006 : Column 1355W—continued

Incineration

Ms Abbott: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans her Department has to increase incineration capacity in England. [46404]

Mr. Bradshaw: The Government have no plans to increase incineration capacity to any particular level; local authorities are responsible for deciding the most appropriate waste management facilities for their areas. Incineration with energy recovery is a sustainable option for the treatment of residual, post-recycling waste and preferable to landfill.

Landfill Licences

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to speed up the process of granting landfill licences. [47857]

Mr. Bradshaw: The Environment Agency is responsible for determining applications for landfill permits. It set up the Strategic Permitting Groups (SPGs) in March 2003 to oversee Pollution Prevention and Control (PPC) permitting applications. To date, the Environment Agency has determined some 1,150 applications for PPC permits received from the landfill and industry sectors.

SPG operation has become more effective and quicker as the Groups have become established. Determination times have been reduced by 20 per cent. The Environment Agency intends to build on this in 2006 by continuing to improve the permitting tools, for instance, by updating permit templates to make them easier to use.

Official Gifts

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list the gifts received by (a) Ministers and (b) officials in her Department in each of the last two years for which information is available; what the approximate value of each was; and how many were (i) accepted and (ii) returned. [34749]

Jim Knight: The Government publishes an annual list of gifts received by Ministers valued at more than £140. The list provides details of the value of the gifts and whether they were retained by the Department or purchased by the Minister.

Information relating to the period 2003–04 and 2004–05 is available in the Library of the House.

No details are held centrally of gifts to officials and this information could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

Organic Entry Level Stewardship

Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will provide compensation for those farmers who have been unable to register their applications for Organic Entry Level
 
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Stewardship due to the timing of the provision of necessary data for farmers from the Rural Land Registry; and if she will make a statement. [49075]

Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 7 February 2006]: It is not our intention to provide compensation for farmers who have been unable to submit applications for Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) or Organic Entry Level Stewardship (OELS) due to delays with the registration of land parcels on the Rural Land Register (RLR). Well in advance of the launch of the new scheme it was made clear to farmers and land managers that registration of land on the RLR would be a pre-requisite for joining the scheme. Environmental Stewardship (ES) is a voluntary environmental scheme and while we are aware that delays with land registration have caused difficulties for some farmers, we believe that reasonable steps have been taken to limit the impact of these delays as far as possible. All applicants who submit a valid application will secure a full five-year agreement, so although their entry to the scheme may have been delayed, they will not be disadvantaged. The Rural Development Service (RDS) will process all valid applications with a view to applying the earliest available monthly start date.

Waste Paper

Stephen Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what guidance is offered by her Department to (a) private businesses and (b) other Government departments on minimising waste paper and paper usage; [42732]

(2) what guidance her Department issues to (a) private businesses and (b) other Government Departments on minimising waste paper. [46684]

Mr. Bradshaw: Envirowise, funded by DEFRA and DTI, promotes the resource efficiency message to business, with an emphasis on prevention (avoidance and minimisation of production of waste—including paper). Envirowise solutions are driven by the specific needs of individual firms, to y improve their business practices, profitability and competitiveness. Since 1994, Envirowise has helped UK industry save more than £1 billion pounds. The BREW programme also funds initiatives which provide advice to businesses on minimising waste.

From 1 November 2003, all new central Government Department contracts have been required to apply minimum environmental standards when purchasing certain types of product. At present standards have been set for 27 product types including copier paper (100 percent. recycled with a minimum being 75 percent. post-consumer waste) and paper for printed publications (minimum 60 percent. recycled of which 75 percent. should be post-consumer waste).

Work is underway to expand this list to around 50 products (details can be viewed at:

http://www.ogcbuyingsolutions.gov.uk/environmental/products/environmentalguickwins.asp)

The OGC website also includes best practice advice for Government Departments.

The Sustainable Procurement Task Force are due to produce an action plan in spring this year setting out recommendations to help enable the UK to be amongst
 
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the leaders in sustainable procurement by 2009. We cannot say anything about the content of the action plan as it has yet to be completed and agreed with taskforce members.

Pedigree Cattle

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what advice she received on the criteria for tuberculosis slaughter valuations for pedigree cattle (a) under six months and (b) over three years of age. [49096]

Mr. Bradshaw: New table valuation based compensation arrangements for bovine tuberculosis were introduced on 1 February 2006. Under the new system, compensation rates for pedigree cattle are calculated monthly using the average sales price obtained for animals within the same category over the previous six months. For pedigree cattle there are 18 table categories. These categories, which are based on the animal's age, sex and sector, were drawn up with the assistance of industry advisors.

There is no table value for pedigree cattle under 6 months. Animals that age would always be suckling, and it would be unusual to sell them without the dam.

Plant Imports

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the basis was for her application to extend the derogation on the import of plants under Commission Decision 2005/775/EC on 8 December 2005; and if she will make a statement. [48121]

Mr. Bradshaw: Under EC plant health legislation the import of certain genera of conifers from the Republic of Korea is normally prohibited. However, following interest from a number of traders and a request from the UK, a derogation allowing the import from the Republic of Korea of bonsai plants of the genera Chamaecyparis, Juniperus and Pinus was agreed by the European Commission in June 2002. A thorough assessment of the potential plant health risks associated with the import of such material was undertaken as part of the derogation process and stringent measures put in place, both pre-export in Korea and for handling the material on arrival in the EC, to mitigate any potential risk. The original derogation expired in 2005. Following a request from importers in the UK the derogation has been extended to 2007.

There have been no instances of quarantine pests or diseases being found on material imported under the derogation.
 
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Recycling Targets

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the Government's plans are for future recycling targets; and if she will make a statement. [47808]

Mr. Bradshaw: Waste Strategy 2000 set out national recycling and composting targets for household waste, of 25 per cent. in 2005–06, then 30 per cent. in 2010 and 33 per cent. in 2015. I recently consulted on options for local authority recycling/composting targets in 2007–08. Analysis of the responses is under way and there will be a formal announcement once a decision is made.

For the longer-term, as part of the review of waste strategy, Defra is looking at what levels and what forms of targets will be the most efficient at continuing the recent improvements we have seen in waste performance. The review will take into account existing policy levers designed to drive the management of waste up the hierarchy (such as the Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme, the landfill tax escalator, and the obligations on producers in relation to packaging and waste electrical and electronic equipment). The Government intend to publish a consultation document on the waste strategy review in the next few weeks, followed by a revised waste strategy in the autumn.


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