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Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what monitoring her Department carries out to measure the effectiveness of policies to restrict the import of illegal timber. [50945]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 13 February 2006]: All UK Government policy is regularly reviewed and monitored for effectiveness.

The Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Regulation adopted by the EU in December 2005 is key in tackling the importation of illegally logged timber. Member states will submit annual reports on the implementation of the policy and there will be a formal review from the two years after the entry into force of the first partnership agreement.

We are also committed to taking forward commitments made on illegal logging at last years G8 Environment and Development Ministerial. The Ministers' recommendations were endorsed by Heads at the Summit in Gleneagles in July 2005 and Ministers agreed that officials would meet in 2006 to review progress against these objectives.

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the Government's timetable is for negotiating Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade voluntary agreements with partnership countries. [51067]

Mr. Thomas: I have been asked to reply.

The EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan identifies a number of potential partner countries. The European Commission and member states began consultations in 2005 with four of these—Cameroon, Ghana, Indonesia and Malaysia, with a view to beginning formal negotiations once a mandate had been given by the European Council. That mandate was given in late 2005 and formal negotiations can begin when these partner countries and the EU agree that the preparatory work has been completed. Consultations will begin with other potential partner countries in 2006 drawing on the experience already gained. The time taken to complete negotiations will vary from partner country to partner country. It is anticipated that the first partnership agreement will be signed in 2007.
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Urban Biodiversity

Greg Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what advice her Department has (a) received from statutory advisors and (b) sought from experts on the role of gardens in urban biodiversity. [50708]

Jim Knight [holding answer 13 February 2006]: Defra, English Nature, the Countryside Council for Wales, and the Environment and Heritage Service (Northern Ireland) are funding research by Sheffield University into biodiversity in urban gardens (BUGS).

An initial BUGS project, completed at the end of 2002, involved a three year investigation into the significance of urban gardens in Sheffield as habitats for 'natural' biodiversity, and tested the efficacy of some simple methods for enhancing garden biodiversity. The results confirmed that 'gardens are brilliant for wildlife'. And further details are available on the BUGS website at

A second BUGS project is now building on the methods and findings of the first study. This project, which is also supported by Defra, widens the scope of this work to examine the resource that gardens provide for wildlife, and the diversity of plants, across different parts of the UK, and different urban forms. It will run until 2006–07, and the results will feed into Biodiversity Action Plans for urban areas.

Waste Incineration Directive

Mr. Letwin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether she intends to delay the application of the Waste Incineration Directive to tallow until the Directorate-General Environment has completed its review of the directive's impact on the combustion of tallow. [27328]

Mr. Bradshaw: The Waste Incineration Directive has been transposed into national law and we currently have no grounds on which to change that. I am advised that, as the law currently stands, the burning of waste tallow as fuel remains subject to the requirements of that directive.

In June 2005, the Government wrote to the European Commission expressing its view that the existing requirements of the Waste Framework Directive (WFD) (75/442/EEC as amended) and the Directive on Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (96/61/EC) are sufficient to ensure that the burning of waste tallow as fuel is carried out in ways which protect the environment and public and animal health. The Government called for the EU Animal By-Products Regulation (ABPR) and the WID to be amended accordingly.

In response, the Commission stated that there did not appear to be sufficient justification at present for it to propose an exclusion of the burning of waste tallow from the WID. However, the Commission also confirmed that the WID is not intended to discourage uses of waste as competitive and efficient alternative energy sources, agreed that it is desirable that it does not have such an effect and has initiated further analysis of
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the issue in the form of a study. This study should help to clarify the wider environmental and economic impacts of the current legislation.

I recognise that recent announcements by the European Commission have raised the possibility that this legal position might change in the future. My understanding is that the Commission's study of the environmental impacts of burning tallow has now commenced and will report in the second half of 2006. If the outcome of this study were favourable to the burning of waste tallow as fuel without having to meet the requirements of the WID, then this could lead to a change in the relevant legislation although it is suggested that this is unlikely to occur before 2009. I must also stress that such an outcome is by no means a foregone conclusion.

Water Abstraction

Mr. Nicholas Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) whether water abstraction charges are planned to be levied on a (a) regional and (b) national basis; [51460]

(2) what representations she has received concerning regional charges for water abstraction licences; [51461]

(3) what proposals she has received from the Environment Agency concerning water abstraction charges. [51469]

Mr. Morley: The Environment Agency has a statutory duty to manage water resources in England and Wales. It recovers the costs of managing water resources from abstraction licence holders through an abstraction charges scheme that is approved by Ministers. The recovery of its day-to-day costs expended in meeting this duty is, and will continue to be, on a regional basis.

The Environment Agency is expected to take action against abstraction licences where the abstraction is adversely impacting on conservation sites, and in particular those designated under European legislation. Where it needs to revoke or modify an abstraction licence then compensation is generally payable. The compensation payments form part of the agency's costs of meeting its duties and therefore are costs to be recovered via abstraction charges.

The Environment Agency has recently consulted on proposals to recover any compensation that may be payable via a national, rather than regional, formula. The Department has received representations, in light of that consultation, from a number of Members of Parliament whose constituencies lie in the north east of England and in particular those served by Northumbrian Water plc. The representations have been made to draw the Department's attention to the concerns of the Consumer Council for Water, the North East Chamber of Commerce and Northumbrian Water about a national approach. Anglian Water has made representations in support of a national approach.

The Environment Agency has made proposals to the Department to raise its regional Standard Unit Charges, which are the basis of the recovery of day-to-day costs of managing water resources in England and Wales, in 2006–07.
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The Environment Agency has not proposed to the Department any changes to the abstraction charges scheme in relation to the recovery of any compensation payments it may need to make. Therefore no decision has been made by Ministers on this element of abstraction charges.

Water Supply

Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what minimum (a) additional water supply infrastructure, (b) additional works to existing water supply infrastructure and (c) change in per capita consumption of water she expects to be required in order to enable an adequate water supply to be maintained when the Government have achieved its target for additional new dwellings in the Thames Gateway by 2016; and what plans the Government have to take the action necessary to ensure adequate water supply. [50198]

Mr. Morley: The Environment Agency is the statutory body with a duty to manage water resources in England and Wales. As part of the agency's management role it has both national and regional water resource strategies which set out the pressures over the next 25 years.

Water companies have statutory duties to maintain adequate supplies of water. They have 25 year water resource plans which complement the agency strategies and seek to reconcile supply with anticipated demand. This forward planning framework exists to take account of factors such as the water supply and disposal infrastructure required to service significant new housing developments of which the Thames Gateway is an example.

Although produced voluntarily, every five years, at present these plans will become a statutory requirement under the provisions of the Water Act 2003. The Department is currently consulting on the exercise of the new powers in respect of statutory water resource plans.

The Government will introduce regulations to secure improved water efficiency in new housing and will be issuing a consultation paper later this year.

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