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23 Mar 2006 : Column 485W—continued

Live Calves (Export)

Gwyn Prosser: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will meet bodies that represent farmers to discourage resumption of the export of live calves for rearing as veal on the continent; and if she will make a statement. [60137]

Mr. Bradshaw: The Department is in regular contact, on a range of issues, with bodies that represent farmers.

The Government would prefer a trade in meat to the long distance transport of live animals to slaughter, whether in the UK or across borders, and would like to see a lower limit for maximum journey times. However, once the current ban has been lifted, it will under EU law be the right of anyone wishing to do so to export live cattle provided they adhere to the rules on health and welfare. These rules will be vigorously enforced and officials are ensuring that those expressing an interest in exporting calves are aware of them.

Veal crates are banned in the EU from the end of this year and their use has already largely been phased out. Several EU countries have, like the UK, already banned veal crates.

Sheep Grazing

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what factors lay behind her decision to reduce payments made under the environmentally sensitive areas scheme for sheep grazing. [59863]

Jim Knight: The Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESA) Scheme was introduced in 1987 to offer incentives to encourage farmers to adopt agricultural practices which would safeguard and enhance parts of the country of particularly high landscape, wildlife or historic value. The scheme has now closed to new applicants but there are still thousands of ongoing live agreements in place.
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We have not reviewed ESA payment rates for existing agreement holders since 1999–2000 and there are no proposals to do so.

If the hon. Member would like to write to me I am happy to consider his points in more detail.

Waste and Resources Programme

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps she is taking to minimise the creation of waste; and if she will make a statement. [59895]

Mr. Bradshaw: In line with the Government's commitment to sustainable development, the Government's policy on waste minimisation seeks to break the link between economic growth and the amount of waste produced and to drive the management of waste up the waste hierarchy of reduction, re-use, recycling and composting, and energy recovery.

The Government's main driver for achieving waste minimisation is the waste implementation programme (WIP). The waste and resources action programme (WRAP) leads on delivering this work.

WRAP'S waste minimisation programme aims to reduce the growth of household waste from 3 percent to 2 percent by the end of the 2005–6 financial year. So far in the 2005–6 financial year, the programme has received around £20 million of funding for three initiatives:

The retailer initiative will be important for delivering the Courtauld Commitment on minimising packaging and food waste from the thirteen top UK grocery retailers. Environment Secretary launched the agreement between WRAP and the retailers in July 2005. Next year, an additional element of WRAP'S work will be communications with consumers, with the aim of reducing household food waste.

The Government's business resource efficiency and waste (BREW) programme funds resource efficiency and waste minimisation programmes.

Various BREW delivery bodies are charged with returning £284 million, from additional landfill tax receipts, to business over three years. These include:

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The Government's food industry sustainability strategy, which will be published shortly, challenges the food manufacturing industry to reduce the quantity of waste that it produces by between 15 and 20 percent. by 2010.

Through its research and data programmes, the Government are investing in developing a sound evidence base on waste minimisation practices and opportunities. So far in the 2005–6 financial year, DEFRA has committed over £2 million to waste minimisation related research and development projects under its waste research and resources programme. Although research so far has largely centred on household waste prevention the programme is also funding some minimisation projects related to commercial and industrial waste (including a £225,000 project, Understanding and Predicting Construction Waste").

DEFRA is currently reviewing its waste strategy, which it published in 2000. On 14 February DEFRA published a consultation document on the review, which proposed a greater focus on waste prevention and resource efficiency to further decouple waste creation from economic growth. DEFRA's work to establish evidence bases on sustainable consumption and production and waste, including research and review work on the flows of resources through the economy, are important linked programmes in underpinning this strategic priority.

Mr. Leech: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether her Department plans to continue to provide financial support to the Waste and Resources Programme after the end of March for its programme to encourage and promote the use of real nappies. [59330]

Mr. Bradshaw: WRAP has only sought funding to enable it to withdraw from this activity, by meeting existing commitments. That is what we shall be providing.

Wild Bird Imports

Mr. Malik: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 30 January 2006, Official Report, column 11W, on wild bird imports, what her policy is on making permanent the EU's temporary ban on the import of all wild birds. [60566]

Mr. Bradshaw: The Government currently have an open mind on this issue and is seeking views from interested parties on the issues surrounding such a ban, particularly in relation to animal health and welfare, conservation, livelihoods and illegal trade.

The European Commission has been asked to look at this issue and has commissioned the European Food Safety Authority to prepare an opinion on the animal health and welfare aspects of the trade in wild birds. This is due to report in October 2006.

Mr. Randall: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the terms of reference are of her Department's internal review of the extension of the ban on the wild bird trade; and on what date she expects that review to report to Ministers. [60152]

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Mr. Bradshaw: The EU ban on imports of captive wild birds from third countries is due to expire on 31 May 2006.

We are awaiting proposals from the European Commission on whether to extend the ban, or to lift it (in full or in part), taking into account the ongoing disease situation worldwide. UK experts will examine these proposals, consider the associated disease risks, and prepare our position accordingly.

We will also be taking into account the recommendations made in the independent review of avian quarantine which was published on 15 December 2005. We will publish the Government response to this report shortly.

World Heritage Sites

David Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which Minister in her Department has responsibility for issues relating to world heritage sites. [59100]

Jim Knight: Lead responsibility for policy on World Heritage Sites rests with the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. The Department for Culture, Media and Sports works closely with relevant Government Departments on all issues affecting World Heritage Sites. Within Defra, I am the Minister for Rural Affairs, Landscape and Biodiversity, with responsibility for issues concerning World Heritage sites which fall within this Department's policy remit.

The only World Heritage site for the natural environment is for the Jurassic Coast within my constituency of South Dorset. Decisions relating to this site would therefore by made by another Defra minister.

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