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18 Apr 2006 : Column 32W—continued


Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which companies have been given Government grants to make their packaging more environmentally friendly; and how much each was given. [62831]

Mr. Bradshaw: While the Government have not given any grants to businesses directly, the Government funded Waste Resources Action Programme (WRAP), set up an £8 million Waste Minimisation Innovation Fund in November 2004 to support research and development projects that focus on reducing the impact of packaging on the environment, for example, by reducing the amount of packaging that goes to landfill.

To date 28 projects have been approved for funding and £4.1 million has been distributed. Funding has been awarded to companies such as Tesco, Sainsbury's, Argos, Coca-Cola, Proctor and Gamble, Marks and Spencer, Britvic and Heinz to run.

Trials to research new and existing opportunities for biodegradable packaging and investigate the use of re-usable packaging are currently underway. Other trials aim to minimise the amount of plastic used in containers, glass in bottles and metals in cans and to look at ways of incorporating recycled plastic into drinks containers. It has been estimated that over 500,000 tonnes of packaging could be prevented each year if the research proves successful and the initiatives are taken up across the retail sector.

The projects are set-up in such a way to ensure that WRAP maintains all intellectual property rights on the findings, ensuring no competitive advantage is gained by participants in the scheme and that any innovations that are developed can be made available to all.

Additionally WRAP are currently conducting a technical advice programme, looking at opportunities for so called pack-less packaging" which, among other things, will explore the potential for refill and self-dispensing systems in the retail sector. Such initiatives could offer significant benefits in terms of packaging reduction as well as financial savings for both customers and retailers.

Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what proportion of members of the principal civil service
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pension scheme in her Department joined the scheme before the age of (a) 20, (b) 25, (c) 30, (d) 35, (e) 40, (f) 45 and (g) over 45 years old. [62013]

Jim Knight: The Department could provide this information only at disproportionate cost.


Jessica Morden: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much central
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funding has been allocated to local authority recycling in each year for which figures are available. [61300]

Mr. Bradshaw: The main source of funding for local authorities' waste management services is the Environmental, Protective and Cultural Services (EPCS) block of annual Government grant. It is for the local authorities to decide what proportion of the block is invested in waste management services, including recycling. Funding is also provided from a variety of other sources to support recycling, the amounts allocated are set out in the following table.
£ million

Waste Minimisation and Recycling Fund
Waste Performance and Efficiency Grant40105110
Grant to Relieve Spending Pressures on
Household Incentives Pilots Scheme5
Direct Consultancy Support(3)0.046(3)0.053
New Technologies Support Fund

(3)As part of North London Waste Authority spanning project.
WMRF Figures include London allocations.

Roadside Car Sales

Mrs. James: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what (a) legislation exists and (b) steps are being taken to prevent vehicles from being parked and advertised for sale in parking rest areas and waste land adjacent to Aroads. [60806]

Mr. Bradshaw: Section 3 of the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 makes it an offence to expose two or more vehicles for sale within 500m of each other on a road or roads as part of a business. This legislation was commenced in June 2005 and can be enforced by local authority officers. The penalty for this offence is a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale, currently £2,500, or liability can be discharged through the issue of a Fixed Penalty Notice of £100, from the 6 April 2006.

The definition of a road will cover any carriageway that a person can use to get from A to B and is likely to include grass verges, waste land adjacent to roads and parking bays lining a road.

Soil Guideline Values

Mr. Moss: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to her Answer of 22 March 2006, Official Report, column 444W, on soil guideline values, when officials from her Department met officials from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister over the last 12 months to discuss the issue; what meetings are planned for the next six months (a) with and (b) without representatives of the Environment Agency and the Health Protection Agency; and when she expects to come to a decision regarding soil guideline values for the compound benzo(a) pyrene. [62561]

Mr. Morley: My officials are following up on the work of the Soil Guideline Values Task Force. Other Departments and Agencies are and will be involved at the appropriate time. A meeting was held recently which ODPM officials were unable to attend. They attended a technical workshop of the Task Force on 27 March. There will be further meeting opportunities on the follow-up work, with any appropriate attendance by other organisations.

Surplus Wine

Mr. Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make representations to the European Commission for the distribution of surplus wine to pensioners rather than its conversion to bio-fuel. [61562]

Mr. Morley: We have no plans to make representations to the EU on this issue. In particular, the uses to which surplus EU wine is put, such as distillation to alcohol for use as bio-fuel, is a matter for European Commission competence. Furthermore, the distribution of surplus wine to pensioners would not be an economically viable method of disposal. The practicalities of establishing and running such a system would be complex and carry considerable costs entailing a framework of controls to avoid abuse.

Travelling Circuses

Mr. David Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate her Department has made of the number of travelling circuses in the UK. [63072]

Mr. Bradshaw: The Department is aware of seven travelling circuses in Great Britain that have animals, three of which have 'wild' or 'exotic' animals. We do not hold numbers of travelling circuses in Northern Ireland.
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Mr. Dunne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she plans to update the guidance on the definition of waste to reflect decisions by the European courts and national courts since the guidance was issued in 1994. [59351]

Mr. Bradshaw: The definition of waste in force in the UK is that in Article 1(a) of the Waste Framework Directive (as amended). When the definition was brought into force in May 1994 guidance on its interpellation was provided in DOE Circular 11/94 (Annex 2). That guidance was provided in the absence of case law and since its publication there have been several binding judgments by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on its interpretation.

The Department is now preparing revised guidance on the principles deriving from the ECJ's judgments with the aim of enabling our competent authorities" and industry to determine with a higher degree of certainty when a substance is waste and when it has been fully recovered and ceases to be waste. We intend to engage with external stakeholders on a draft of the revised guidance before it is formally published.

It has been necessary for the Department to concentrate its staff resources on the adoption of the legislation necessary to comply with the ECJ's adverse judgment of December 2004 on infraction proceedings against the UK on compliance the Waste Framework Directive (Case C-62/03); and the negotiations on the revised Waste Framework Directive published by the European Commission in December 2005. The former has now been addressed in the Waste Management (England and Wales) Regulations 2006 (S.I. 2006 No.937) which were laid before the House on 30 March 2006. It will be necessary for the Department also to publish guidance on the 2006 regulations and as soon as this has been done resources will be allocated to the completion of the revised guidance on the interpretation of the definition of waste. Our aim, therefore, is to engage with external stakeholders on the revised guidance on the definition of waste later in the spring.

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