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18 Apr 2006 : Column 28W—continued

Free Newspapers

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what regulations govern the distribution of free newspapers on the street; and what guidance she has produced for local authorities on this issue. [62305]

Mr. Bradshaw: As of 6 April this year, the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 will enable principal-litter authorities to control the distribution of free literature on their own land or highways by inserting a new section 94B and schedule 3A to, the Environmental Protection Act 1990. The regime allows local authorities to designate, by order, areas in which the distribution of free literature, including free newspapers, is permitted only with their consent, where such distribution is causing defacement of the land. Anyone caught distributing free literature in a designated area, or commissioning or paying for it, without consent, commits an offence punishable by a
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fine of up to level 4 (currently £2,500) on the standard scale or a fixed penalty notice. Detailed guidance on these controls is available on Defra's website.

Policy on parish precepts is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister.

Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research

Mr. Rogerson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what assessment she has made of the likely effects of reductions in funding on service provision at the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research at (a) Aberystwyth and (b) North Wyke; [54609]

(2) what assessment her Department has made of the potential impact of reductions in funding to the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research on (a) livestock grazing research and (b) rural management. [54611]

Jim Knight: The Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research (IGER) is a Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) research institute. Therefore, levels of service provision at (a) Aberystwyth and (b) North Wyke are matters for BBSRC and the institute.

However, as a customer for the services provided by IGER, Defra has an interest in the maintenance of service provision as related to our present and developing needs. The Department's needs for scientific evidence and, therefore, the expertise required within the scientific community to service these needs, are changing.

IGER is, and will continue to be, a very important research partner for Defra. This is reflected in my department's continuing significant investment; we are committed to investing over £5 million in research programmes at IGER in financial year 2006–07. No active programmes at IGER are being terminated early and we remain confident that IGER will deliver its ongoing research obligations. It is for BBSRC and the institute to decide on the numbers and make-up of staff needed to deliver IGER's mission, including meeting its contractual obligations to Defra.

Invasive Top Mouth Gudgeon

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what her Department's response was to the report on the dispersal of the invasive top mouth gudgeon, Pseudorasbora parva, in the UK: a vector for an emergent infectious disease published in 2005 by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and the Environment Agency. [61570]

Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 27 March 2006]: Defra is concerned about the potential threat that the non-native top mouth gudgeon may pose to native species. Under Section 30 of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975, persons wishing to introduce fish into inland unenclosed waters in England and Wales require the consent of the Environment Agency; such consent is never given in respect of top mouth gudgeon. In addition, persons wishing to keep these fish in enclosed waters require a licence to do so, issued under the terms of the Prohibition of Keeping or Release of Live Fish (Specified Species) Orders made under the
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Import of Live Fish Act 1980. The licences are issued by the Fish Health Inspectorate at Cefas, Weymouth and enforced by them and by the Environment Agency. We recognise that tighter controls are necessary but their introduction would require primary legislation on which work is currently in hand.

The Environment Agency, through its fisheries monitoring programmes, surveys some 1,400 freshwater sites annually and enlist the help of anglers to establish the presence of non-native species including the top mouth gudgeon. They also operate eradication programmes to remove non-native species where this is practical and the fish concerned pose a threat to native populations.

Defra is funding research at Cefas into the infectious disease known as the rosette-like agent" under an emerging aquatic diseases risk and awareness project. We have commissioned a further three year research project at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology on the prevalence and impact of the rosette-like agent.

Landfill Sites

Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the minimum permitted distance is for a landfill site from residential properties in England; and what the shortest distance is that a landfill site is situated away from such properties. [62841]

Mr. Bradshaw: Where an application for a new landfill site is made after 16 July 2001, Regulation 5 and Paragraph 1(1) of Schedule 2 to the Landfill (England and Wales) Regulations 2002, place a specific responsibility on Waste Planning Authorities to consider the site location. This takes account of the distances from the boundary to residential and recreational areas, waterways, water bodies and other agricultural or urban sites.

Decisions on land-use planning matters are the responsibility of the Local Planning Authority (LPA). Where there is a proposal for development within 250 metres of a landfill site, the LPA is likely to consult the Environment Agency. In these cases, the Environment Agency's advice is that the LPA requests risk assessment and risk management proposals.

Map Modification Register

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State forEnvironment, Food and Rural Affairs how many local authorities have a register of definitive map modification order applications as specified by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000; when each authority that does not have such a register plans to introduce one; and why each has not yet introduced one. [62615]

Jim Knight: Local highway authorities are responsible for the management of rights of way and all information relating to modification orders is held by the authorities, rather than central Government. This information could be gathered only at disproportionate cost.
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However, local highway authorities had a duty to set up and keep a register under section 53B of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 by the 31 December 2005. We will carry out a review of the implementation of section 53B in due course.


Mr. Ian Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will take steps to tackle noise pollution caused by mini-motorcycles. [62022]

Mr. Bradshaw: Under Part III of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, local authorities have a statutory duty to inspect their areas for existing, potential and recurring statutory nuisances from time to time; to take reasonable and practicable steps to investigate complaints of statutory nuisance; and to issue an abatement notice where it is satisfied that a statutory nuisance exists, or may occur or recur. Local authorities may also seize noise-making equipment.

Noise from mini-motorcycles on premises is capable of being a statutory nuisance. Premises can include land and beaches, and, in the case of vehicles, streets. Mini-motorcycles can also be seized as noise-making equipment.

A statutory nuisance is such that it materially affects someone's reasonable use of their home and/or is prejudicial to their health, as assessed by the local authority on a case-by-case basis. It is not a tool for addressing noise pollution in general.

Mini-motorcycles ridden illegally or in a careless or anti-social manner (that is causing or likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress) may be seized by the police under section 59 of the Police Reform Act 2002 powers. A new guidance document was published in November 2005 and sent to all Chief Police Officers.

Mobile Telephones

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on her Department's strategy for minimising the environmental impact of the disposal of unwanted mobile telephones. [62856]

Mr. Bradshaw: Mobile phones are a good example of widely used products where much has already been done—by producers and consumers—to reduce waste. However, more can and should be done to reduce the impacts of waste disposal at each stage of the product cycle. This is consistent with the direction we are proposing in our recent consultation document on a revised waste strategy for England.

Defra is working closely with the DTI on the implementation of the EU Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive, which will make producers financially responsible for the treatment and recycling of electronic equipment, including mobile phones, when it becomes waste. In particular, Defra are taking forward the development of Regulations transposing the treatment and permitting requirements of the Directive, which are intended to improve the environmental performance of operators directly involved in the treatment of WEEE.
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In addition, Defra are also working with DTI on the implementation of the EU RoHS (Restriction of the use of certain Hazardous Substances in electrical and electronic equipment) Directive. From 1 July 2006, the RoHS Regulations will restrict the use of six substances in the manufacture of mobile phones and other electrical and electronic equipment, meaning that they will be easier to treat and recycle when they become waste.

I am delighted that the Science Museum has recently launched, with Defra support, an exhibition, 'Dead Ringers', which is highlighting the waste impacts of mobile phones and what can be done to reduce them.

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