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Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the chief veterinary officer's report on the H5 avian influenza exposure in October 2005, on what date the antibodies were found; where they were found; how many birds revealed antibodies; and whether the geese were (a) (i) imported and (ii) homebred and (b) kept for (A) consumption and (B) eggs. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Samples taken from a number of geese on 31 October 2005 from an informal bird rescue centre in Somerset tested positive for antibodies to H5 avian influenza. Three geese had positive antibody titres to H5N2 and 10 geese had positive antibody titres to H5N7.
Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the chief veterinary officer's report on the avian influenza exposure in October 2005, what tests were undertaken on wild birds in the area; what the results were of these tests; whether antibodies showed the birds were exposed to the H5 virus; whether there was evidence the birds had recovered from infection; and what assessment he has made of the length of time H5 viruses have been spread between wild birds. 
Mr. Bradshaw: No additional tests were undertaken in response to the findings of H5N2 and H5N7 antibodies in geese in October 2005. A veterinary inquiry was instigated and clinical examination revealed that the geese were healthy. Further sampling and laboratory tests did not isolate avian influenza viruses and the presence of infection with avian influenza viruses was ruled out. It is likely that the positive antibody result was due to previous exposure to low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) viruses.
Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 16 May 2006, Official Report, column 833W, on avian influenza, how many approved commercial landfill sites there are; what estimate his Department has made of the maximum disposal capacity they provide; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bradshaw: My officials are working with the Environment Agency to review the capacity of suitably permitted landfills for the disposal of infected poultry carcases in the event that there is insufficient capacity at incineration and rendering plants.
Based on the capacity as assessed following the foot and mouth disease outbreak in 2001, my officials advise that there would be more than sufficient capacity in commercial licensed landfill to dispose of the projected number of poultry carcases.
Part III of the Exotic Animal Disease Generic Contingency Plan, published by Defra in December 2005, sets out the structures and systems that would be implemented in the event of an outbreak of avian influenza and describes the Government's capability to provide the resources to implement the control policies. The Plan is available on the Defra website:
Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 16 May 2006, Official Report, column 833W, on avian influenza, what measures his Department has in place to prevent wild birds from scavenging from (a) on-farm burial sites and (b) commercial landfill sites; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bradshaw: There are no plans for the on-farm burial of poultry carcases in the event of an outbreak of avian influenza. In the event that commercial licensed landfill was used for carcase disposal, this risk would be mitigated by ensuring that carcases were immediately covered with other material to a depth of at least 1 m and that at the end of each working day, carcases were covered by at least 2m of cover material.
All landfill sites used for carcase disposal will have Pollution, Prevention and Control (PPC) conditions in place as well as a bespoke bird deterrent/management plan drawn up and implemented by bird control experts from the Central Science Laboratory.
Part III of the Exotic Animal Disease Generic Contingency Plan, published by Defra in December 2005, sets out the structures and systems that would be implemented in the event of an outbreak of avian
influenza and describes the Government's capability to provide the resources to implement the control policies. The Plan is available on the Defra website:
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs why the pilot study of the gamma interferon bovine tuberculosis test was abandoned; which part of the Department (a) designed and (b) implemented the pilot study; and what assessment has been made of the process. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The pilot study of the gamma interferon blood test was halted in October 2005 because the slow recruitment rate of herds (195 herds against a projected requirement of 600) meant that the project was unlikely to be completed before 2012. Given the significance of the bovine tuberculosis problem, we believed this was too long to wait.
Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress has been made with changes to the effects of the European Landfill Directive in its application to pet cemeteries since May 2005; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Pet cemeteries are landfill sites and their operation is subject to the requirements of the Landfill Directive. Previously they operated under waste management licences issued by the Environment Agency (EA), but under the Landfill Directive, operators of pet cemeteries will now instead be required to apply for a pollution prevention and control permit.
DEFRA has been working very closely with the EA to ensure that increases in the cost of regulation are kept to a minimum. The EA has classified pet cemeteries as a low risk activity which will attract lower application fees and subsistence charges.
DEFRA officials are currently working with the EA to investigate the scope for taking an alternative approach to the regulation of pet cemeteries. We expect to announce a proposal for their future regulation very shortly.
Anne Snelgrove: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many commercial hatcheries are listed in the Great Britain Poultry Register in respect of each species. 
|Species||Number of premises that hatch birds|
The GB Poultry Register allows people to register themselves as a commercial hatchery without necessarily indicating which species they hatch, hence the unknown category. It is also possible that premises may have registered themselves as having an incubator capacity but have not registered that they use this for commercial purposes.
The GB Poultry Register captures data under the Avian Influenza (Preventive Measures) (No2) Regulations 2005. Registration is mandatory for premises with 50 or more birds kept for commercial purposes. In addition, the Register also includes voluntary registrations for non-commercial premises and those where fewer than 50 poultry are kept.
Two premises in the GB Poultry Register had registered as a commercial hatchery. However, they indicated in a free text field that they did not hatch anything. These premises were removed from this report.
Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) when he plans to begin the consultation on the co-existence arrangements for genetically modified crops; and if he will make a statement; 
David Miliband [holding answer 9 May 2006]: We plan to issue a consultation paper in due course. This will be sent to relevant stakeholder groups and it will also be available on the Defra website. We will encourage everyone who wants to make a contribution on this subject to do so.
Miss Kirkbride: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will estimate the amount of carbon emissions produced by the use of the RAF Queen's Flight to fly from his constituency to London. 
Ian Pearson: The rules on the use of special flights are set out in Travel by Ministers. The annual lists of overseas travel by Cabinet Ministers costing over £500 set out when special flights are used, and the purpose of each trip. Copies are available in the Library. The then Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs made use of 32 Squadron to attend EU Council meetings in Brussels and Luxemburg.
Carbon dioxide emissions arising from 32 Squadron flights are included in the Government's carbon offsetting commitment. Carbon emissions arising from the use of these flights have been recorded and offset in the same way as the use of scheduled flights since April 2005.
Stephen Hesford: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research his Department has undertaken into the environmental effects of deep-burial of nuclear waste. 
Ian Pearson: The independent Committee on Radioactive Waste Management, which was appointed by the Government in November 2003, has considered existing research into the environmental effects of the disposal of nuclear waste.
The Committee recently announced an integrated package of draft recommendations for the long-term management of the UK's radioactive waste, which are subject to further consultation with interested parties. The report when completed will be available on www.corwm.org.
Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what advice and guidance (a) the Department, (b) the Environment Agency, (c) the Government's Advisory Committee on Hazardous Substances and (d) the Drinking Water Inspectorate has issued on the use of perfluorooctane sulphonate. 
Ian Pearson: DEFRA, and the Government's Advisory Committee on Hazardous Substances have not issued any guidance on the use of perflurooctane sulphonate. However, a European Commission proposal for a Directive (76/769/EC), relating to restrictions on the marketing and use of perfluorooctane sulphonates (PFOSs) is currently being negotiated. While the UK welcomes the proposals we do not feel that they go far enough, and the UK is now aiming to strengthen these proposals by working through a co-decision process at EU level.
We have reached agreement with member countries of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on the hazard profile of PFOS see www.oecd.org/dataoecd/23/18/2382880.pdf We are also working to have PFOS agreed as a persistent organic pollutant and subject to international controls under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants and the UNECE Protocol on Persistent Organic Pollutants. This is a longer-term aim.
While the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) has not issued specific advice or guidance on the use of PFOS, it has provided advice to organisations involved in the response to the Buncefield fire on the regulation of PFOS in drinking water. A value of three micrograms per litre was provided by the DWI to the Three Valleys water company as reflecting the best available evidence on which the water company can base its judgment of wholesomeness and safety, and the actions, if any, that it may need to take to safeguard drinking water quality going forward.
The current national advice provided by the Health Protection Agency is that it appears unlikely that a lifetime's consumption of drinking-water containing concentrations of up to three micrograms of PFOS per litre would harm human health.
Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many pheasants have been imported from France in each of the last 10 years; whether bird imports are still permitted; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 27 March 2006]: The EU-wide system for recording the number of livestock
imported into each member state, TRACES, does not differentiate between different types of game birds. Further, there are inconsistencies in the way that data can be inputted and interpreted, so the available figures are not reliable. However, the database does show that, to date, no game birds have been imported into the UK from France in 2006.
Ian Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he is taking to ensure that the competent authority for the registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals regulations in the UK will be suitably equipped in terms of staff and expertise to take account of the occupational health issues arising from the regulations. 
Ian Pearson: DEFRA is considering a number of options for the competent authority for the registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals (REACH) in the UK. In evaluating these options consideration will be given to whether they have the ability to address the wide range of issues arising from the regulations, including their capability in terms of staff and expertise to ensure adequate protection of both human health and the environment. As REACH applies without prejudice to existing health and safety legislation, the chosen competent authority will need to demonstrate an ability to work closely with Health and Safety Executive who have overall policy and enforcement responsibility for occupational health legislation.
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