Previous Section Index Home Page

15 Mar 2006 : Column 2281W—continued

Global Warming

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research she has commissioned into the possible relationship between global warming and drastic weather events, with particular reference to (a) flash floods and (b) hurricanes. [59053]

Mr. Morley: Over 5 percent. of the research funded by DEFRA at the Met Office's Hadley Centre for climate prediction and research is specifically aimed at gaining a better understanding of the relationships between extreme events and climate change.

For example, recent research by the Hadley Centre has shown that the European hot summer of 2003 was up to four times more likely to have happened because of the increased levels of greenhouse gases. Such summers are expected to be common by the 2050s.

It is not generally possible to link the intensity of individual extreme rainfalls to global climate change. Hadley Centre studies suggest that the frequency of extreme rainfall events, leading to flash flooding, may increase overall in response to global warming; although there will be local and regional variations. UK climate change scenarios issued in 2002 show an increase in the frequency of severe rainfall events across the whole country in the 2080s, compared to today.

The effect of climate change on hurricanes and other tropical storms is still a matter of considerable research, at the Hadley Centre, elsewhere in the UK, and in the U.S.A. There is some evidence that hurricane intensity may increase with global warming but no clear evidence yet on how hurricane frequency might change.


Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the (a) financial viability, (b) overall environmental impact and (c) past performance of each technological solution which her Department has assessed as an acceptable waste disposal alternative to landfill. [52905]

Mr. Bradshaw: All waste treatment technologies are different and their financial viability, environmental impact and track record need to be assessed at local level to decide the most suitable solution. The Government provide support for local authorities through the Waste Technologies Data Centre and the New Technologies Supporter Programme, which provide information on financial, environmental and performance aspects of different technologies for the diversion of biodegradable municipal waste from landfill.
15 Mar 2006 : Column 2282W


Rosie Cooper: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps she is taking to encourage local authorities to recycle plastic. [53312]

Mr. Bradshaw: While the Government have set statutory recycling and composting targets for all waste collection authorities in England they do not specify which materials should be collected. However, the Government have, through the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), set up the Recycling and Organics Technical Advisory Team (ROTATE). ROTATE's role is to disseminate information and spread best practice on recyclate collection methodologies throughout the local authority community. One of its messages concerns evidence from research that recyclate collections that include plastics achieve greater householder participation and yield greater quantities of all materials than collections that do not.

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the performance against recycling targets of each local authority has been in each of the last 10 years; and if she will make a statement. [58496]

Mr. Bradshaw: Waste Strategy 2000 announced that the Government would set local authorities statutory performance standards for recycling and composting household waste in 2003–04 and 2005–06. There were no performance standards for recycling and composting prior to this. Performance against 2003–04 targets can be found on the Defra website:


Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what plans she has to build new reservoirs in England and Wales over the next 10 years; and in which areas reservoirs are to be developed; [58495]

(2) what representations she has received about the development of the national reservoir infrastructure over the next 10 years. [58497]

Mr. Morley: My Department has no plans to build reservoirs. It is for water companies to consider the need for building new reservoirs in fulfilment of their duties to maintain adequate supplies of water. Five proposals to construct new reservoirs were set out in the water companies 25 year water resources plans prepared in 2004.
Proposed locationCompany
Broad OakSouthern Water /Mid Kent Water/
Folkestone and Dover Water Services
Clay HillSouth East Water
Havant ThicketPortsmouth Water
South West OxfordshireThames Water
Lower SevernSevern Trent

Proposals for new reservoirs are subject to proper option appraisal and must demonstrate their cost-effectiveness against other resource options.
15 Mar 2006 : Column 2283W

In each case the necessary approvals, such as planning permission, will need to be obtained.

No specific representation has been received on the development of a national reservoir infrastructure over the next 10 years.

Warm Front Scheme

Mr. Iain Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will take steps to allow recipients of the Warm Front Scheme to pool resources from the Scheme to fund community-based fuel initiatives. [57888]

Mr. Morley: There is potential for the Warm Front Scheme to support such initiatives. To enable this the Scheme would need to satisfy itself on various issues including but not limited to:

Waste Incineration

Mr. Bone: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress has been made towards meeting the Government's targets for the incineration of waste; and if she will make a statement. [57157]

Mr. Bradshaw: Government have set no specific targets for waste incineration. Energy is currently recovered from about 9 per cent. of municipal waste. Economic modelling undertaken to inform the Government's current waste strategy review suggests that this may increase to about 25 per cent. nationally by 2020. This is less than was forecast in Waste Strategy 2000 due to our better than expected performance on recycling.

Water Supplies

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps the Government are taking to ensure that planned large scale housing development will be co-ordinated with water supply infrastructure. [57570]

Mr. Morley: The Government are confident that the current water resources planning framework is sufficiently robust to forecast the future demands for water and to manage the supply-demand balance. DEFRA works closely with the water companies and the ODPM to ensure that water needs for new house building are taken into account at an early stage of the planning process and included in a timely manner in the water companies 25 year water resource plans.

The water companies are already statutory consultees on regional spatial strategies and local development frameworks, and should work with plan making bodies in drawing up these plans, so that the necessary coordination can occur. Conversely, the planning authorities will become statutory consultees on the water company water resources management plans,
15 Mar 2006 : Column 2284W
when these plans are put on a statutory basis (expected to be in October 2006). This means that the water companies can be provided with information on proposed large scale developments in their supply areas.

However, new infrastructure is only part of the equation, and the Government are actively pursuing opportunities to reduce unnecessary consumption of water. For example DEFRA has set up the Water Saving Group to investigate further opportunities for more efficient use of water. DEFRA and ODPM will be consulting jointly later this year on mechanisms to improve the efficiency of water use in new-build housing and the Government have recently announced that there will be minimum standards for water efficiency as part of the code for sustainable homes.

Andrew Gwynne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment her Department has made of the availability of water supplies in the North West of England in 2006. [57829]

Mr. Morley: The Environment Agency has produced a report, Drought prospects 2006", explaining the likely consequences of a continuing rainfall deficit and recommending action by water companies and the public. Although most reservoir levels in the north west of England were at lower levels than normal at the end of January it was not considered that this should present any problems over the summer. Nevertheless, water companies are advised to monitor the situation carefully and if necessary to take appropriate action in accordance with their drought plans.

Rosie Cooper: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the new (a) reservoirs, (b) treatment plants and (c) sewerage systems that might be needed to accommodate proposals for the new house building up to 2016 in West Lancashire. [58429]

Mr. Morley: Water companies are already factoring new house building into their water resources plans, using projections from ODPM and local authorities. Ofwat has already assumed in its current price limits that almost one million new properties will be connected to the water and sewerage service by 2010.

To fulfil their duty to maintain adequate supplies of water, several water companies propose to enlarge existing reservoirs (three in total) or construct new ones (five in total). These proposals are set out in the 25 year water resources plans they prepared in 2004. The Environment Agency has advised Ministers about the appropriateness of these proposals and other measures to ensure security of supply in its report Maintaining water supply", which was published in July 2004. West Lancashire's water supply is provided by United Utilities. The company's water resources plan, prepared in 2004, does not identify the need for new reservoirs.

Planning for new sewerage systems should be carried out in close and transparent co-operation between planners and water and sewerage companies. The provision of water and sewerage services are key factors in ensuring the sustainability of new housing developments. New sewers are usually laid by developers or requisitioned from the water and sewerage companies.
15 Mar 2006 : Column 2285W

Next Section Index Home Page