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Energy Efficiency

Sir Robert Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate she has made of the cost per kilowatt hour to energy suppliers relating to the Energy Efficiency Commitment scheme. [51400]

Mr. Morley: In addition to Defra's own current analysis of carbon savings and costs and benefits, we have recently commissioned an independent consultant to evaluate the Energy Efficiency Commitment 2002–05. Preliminary results show that the cost effectiveness from a supplier's perspective was about 0.7 pence per fuel-standardised lifetime-discounted kilowatt hour of saved energy including indirect costs, or 0.5 pence per fuel-standardised lifetime-discounted kilowatt hour excluding indirect costs. It is estimated that for every £1 spent by the energy suppliers, householders have benefited by over £9 from energy efficiency improvements in terms of reduced bills and increased comfort. More details will become available when both evaluations are published shortly.

English Nature

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the current staffing establishment is at English Nature in Peterborough; and what projected staffing numbers are over the next five years. [54354]

Jim Knight: There are currently 397 English Nature staff based in Peterborough (including 23 in the area team for Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire).

From October 2006 (subject to the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Bill passing successfully through Parliament) English Nature, the environment activities of the Rural Development Service and the Countryside Agency's Landscape, Access and Recreation division will come together to form Natural England. It is anticipated that Natural England will have an office in Peterborough, the number of staff based there will be a matter for the board of Natural England.

Fuel Poverty

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the Government are on course to meet its fuel poverty commitments in 2010; and if she will make a statement. [53227]

Mr. Morley: Substantial progress has been made towards achieving our target of eradicating fuel poverty in vulnerable households in England, as far as reasonably practicable, by 2010. The number of vulnerable households in fuel poverty in England fell from four million in 1996 to one million in 2003, a decrease that was due to increasing household incomes, lower fuel prices and increased domestic energy efficiency.
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However, recent rises in energy prices will have had an adverse affect on progress. We are continuing to analyse the impact of these rises and the implications for the level of resource that will be necessary to meet our target. This process will continue over the period of the Energy Review, which is due to conclude later this year.

The Government remains committed to achieving our targets. To underline this commitment, it was announced in the 2005 pre-Budget report that an additional £300 million would be made available to tackle fuel poverty across the UK over the 2005–08 period. In England, this means that total fuel poverty funding over the same period will exceed £800 million.

Ministerial Travel

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list the
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occasions on which (a) she has and (b) each of her Ministers have visited (i) Brussels and (ii) Paris in the last two years; and what the (A) purpose and (B) means of transport to and from the United Kingdom was on each occasion. [45877]

Margaret Beckett: [holding answer 26 January 2006]: Since 1999 the Government have published an annual list of Cabinet Ministers' visits overseas costing more than £500. The list provides details of the date, destination, purpose and costs of individual visits made by Cabinet Ministers.

Information relating to the period 2003–04 and 2004–05 is available in the Library of the House. Information for the year 2005–06 will be published as soon as it is ready after the end of the financial year.

DEFRA Ministers visited Brussels and Paris on the following occasions in 2004–05:
Elliot Morley

DateDestinationPropose of visitTransport
2 March 2004BrusselsEnvironment CouncilRAF/Scheduled flight
19–20 April 2004ParisOECD Three Year Meeting of Environment MinistersEurostar
24–25 June 2004ParisEnvironment CouncilEurostar
19 December 2004BrusselsEnvironment CouncilEurostar
27 –28 January 2005ParisInternational Biodiversity SymposiumEurostar
9 –11 March 2005Paris/BrusselsOECD High Seas Task Force and Environment CouncilEurostar/Scheduled flight
1–2 June 2005ParisRoundtable on Sustainable Development at the OECDEurostar
15 September 2005BrusselsVisit to the European ParliamentEurostar/Scheduled flight
6 October 2005BrusselsIPPR Climate Change Policy SeminarEurostar/Scheduled flight
12 October 2005BrusselsBathing Water ConciliationEurostar
24 October 2005BrusselsLaunch of the European Climate Change ProgrammeScheduled flight/Eurostar
1–2 December 2005BrusselsEnvironment CouncilEurostar/RAF

Alun Michael

DateDestinationPropose of visitTransport
17 May 2004BrusselsCompetitiveness CouncilEurostar
2 March 2005BrusselsMet with MEPs about REACHEurostar

Jim Knight

DateDestinationPropose of visitTransport
18 July 2005BrusselsAgriculture/Fisheries CouncilEurostar
21–22 November 2005BrusselsAgriculture/Fisheries CouncilEurostar
19–20 September 2005BrusselsAgriculture/Fisheries CouncilEurostar
19–21 December 2005BrusselsAgriculture/Fisheries CouncilEurostar

Ben Bradshaw

DateDestinationPropose of visitTransport
22–23 March 2004BrusselsAgriculture/Fisheries CouncilScheduled flight
24 May 2004BrusselsAgriculture/Fisheries CouncilScheduled flight/Eurostar
22–23 November 2004BrusselsAgriculture/Fisheries CouncilRAF/Eurostar
20–22 December 2004BrusselsAgriculture/Fisheries CouncilScheduled flight/Eurostar
14–15 March 2005BrusselsAgriculture/Fisheries CouncilScheduled flight
11 July 2005BrusselsAppearance at European ParliamentEurostar
17–19 July 2005BrusselsAgriculture/Fisheries Council Bilateral with
French fisheries minister
19–20 September 2005BrusselsAgriculture/Fisheries CouncilEurostar
22–23 September 2005BrusselsHosting dinner for European ParliamentEurostar
21 November 2005ParisHigh Seas Task ForceEurostar
21–24 November 2005BrusselsAgriculture/Fisheries CouncilEurostar
19–22 December 2005BrusselsAgriculture/Fisheries CouncilEurostar

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Lord Whitty

DateDestinationPropose of visitTransport
16 February 2004BrusselsEuropean conference on air qualityScheduled flight
18 October 2004BrusselsSIAL promoting British FoodScheduled flight

Lord Bach

DateDestinationPropose of visitTransport
3 October 2005BrusselsREACHEurostar
5 December 2005BrusselsREACHEurostar

National Parks

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to increase the (a) number and (b) area of National Parks. [54539]

Jim Knight: The eight National Parks in England, together with the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads (the Broads) cover around 8 per cent. of the English landscape.

Government expects to receive shortly the Inspector's report of the inquiry which has been held into the possibility of creating a new national park in the South Downs.

Oil Storage Regulations

Colin Challen: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will amend the Control of Pollution (Oil Storage) (England) Regulations 2001 to provide for the requirements contained therein to be made equivalent to the requirements contained in the draft Water Environment Oil Storage (Scotland) Regulations 2006. [52264]

Mr. Morley: The Control of Pollution (Oil Storage) (England) Regulations 2001 had a four-year phased implementation period and came fully into effect on 1 September 2005. The drafting of similar regulations for Scotland has drawn upon the experience in England and sought to simplify and improve the requirements for oil storage.

The aim of both sets of regulations is to reduce the number of oil pollution incidents. When information on the number of oil pollution incidents in England and their causes, following full implementation of the regulations, becomes available in 2007, the Environment Agency will undertake a review of the effectiveness of the 2001 regulations. That review will also take into account the approach adopted in drafting the Scottish regulations.

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