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20 Jun 2006 : Column 1821Wcontinued
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the UK Governments policy is on non-food GM crops; and what assessment has been made of the impact of such crops in different parts of the world. 
Ian Pearson: No genetically modified (GM) crops, including non-food GM crops, will be approved unless they pass a detailed case-by-case assessment of possible risks to human health and the environment. Under European Union (EU) legislation each proposed commercial GM product is subject to a detailed risk assessment which involves careful scrutiny by independent scientists. An evaluation is made of all the risk factors that may arise, including possible toxic or allergenic effects and the likely consequences of any gene transfer. Any GM crop intended for importing into this country from outside the EU would need to have the requisite EU consent.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the UK Governments policy is on Polands decision to ban the cultivation and sale of genetically modified organisms. 
Ian Pearson: This is a matter for the Polish Government and the European Commission. The Governments policy is that we expect member states to abide by existing EU law.
Mr. Donohoe: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will estimate the financial impact on the landscape and gardening industry of the imposition of a hosepipe ban in some parts of the South East of England. 
Ian Pearson [holding answer 19 June 2006]: Water companies are responsible for considering whether to introduce hosepipe bans using the powers available to them under the Water Industry Act 1991. Prior approval from Government is not required.
No assessment of the financial impact of hosepipe bans on the landscape and gardening industry has been conducted by the Government. However, in light of lessons learned from the current drought period, my Department will review the scope of the current legislative framework relating to hosepipe bans.
Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of landfilled waste in Herefordshire comes from commercial sources. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Based on returns supplied to the Environment Agency by the facility operators, 5,406 tonnes (48.6 per cent.) out of a total of 11,122 tonnes of waste landfilled at three licensed facilities in Herefordshire in 2002-03 were of commercial origin. This is the last year for which fully quality assured data are available.
This is a relatively small amount compared both to the total waste land-filled in the West Midlands (6,623,554 tonnes) and to the total waste dealt with (through treatment, transfer and disposal) in Herefordshire (167,846 tonnes). The tonnage deposited in landfills is likely to decrease further over subsequent years as landfill sites come under stricter regulation.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what restrictions apply to the taking of marmoset monkeys into public places; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Marmoset monkeys are not listed under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act and there are no restrictions specific to taking them into public places. However, any keeper would need to ensure that in taking such an animal into a public place they are not causing any unnecessary suffering contrary to section 1 of the Protection of Animals Act 1911.
Under the Animal Welfare Bill all keepers and owners will need to ensure that an animals welfare needs are also provided for.
The Department is also looking at the provision of codes of practice on the care of primates.
Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the likely impact of the proposals in the Food Standards Agencys consultation on charging arrangements for meat hygiene controls on (a) the charges to and (b) the viability of small abattoirs. 
Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 12 June 2006]: The Food Standards Agencys proposals for changes to the charging arrangements for meat hygiene controls are still being developed. I understand that they are currently seeking the initial views of stakeholders, prior to full consultation later this year. Officials from this Department will be liaising closely with those of the Agency to assess their potential impact on charges generally and particularly on the viability of smaller abattoirs.
Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how the Government plan (a) to reduce the amount of packaging used by big businesses and (b) to encourage consumers to choose products with less packaging. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Last year the Government launched the Courtauld Commitment, a voluntary agreement between 13 major retailers and the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) to reduce packaging waste. There are three broad objectives to meet, which are:
i. to design out packaging waste growth by 2008;
ii. to deliver absolute reductions in packaging waste by March 2010; and
iii. to identify ways to tackle the problem of food waste.
There are also two sets of regulations which cover packaging in the UK both of which encourage producers (including retailers) to minimise packaging. The Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 1997 (as amended) are intended to increase the recovery and recycling of packaging waste. The amount of packaging waste producers have to recover and recycle is determined, in part, by the amount of packaging they handle. Therefore, businesses can save money if they reduce the amount of packaging they handle. The Packaging (Essential Requirements) Regulations 2003 (as amended) place a number of requirements on all packaging placed on the market in the UK, including a requirement that packaging should be manufactured so that the volume and weight are limited to the minimum adequate amount to maintain the necessary level of safety, hygiene and acceptance for the packed product and for the consumer.
Both regulations have led to decreases in packaging used around products. However, more still needs to be done to reduce the amount of packaging that is produced. We have asked the Advisory Committee on Packaging to work with industry to find solutions to this problem and to let me have recommendations for ways of encouraging businesses to further reduce the amount of packaging they use.
Although legislation is one way of reducing packaging, consumers also have a part to play. If consumers make a point of choosing goods that are not heavily packaged, buy loose food rather than pre-packaged food and use their reusable shopping bags, manufacturers would be more inclined to think about the type and the quantity of packaging around their products.
Paul Rowen: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has had with interested parties on his recent consultation on the adoption of private sewers; and what option he plans to recommend following that consultation. 
Ian Pearson: DEFRA has worked hard with stakeholders including Ofwat, Water UK and the Consumer Council for Water to examine the scope and form any potential transfer to water and sewerage companies might take; its costs and funding, the impact on the drain repair and insurance industries, and public expectation. We intend to publish a decision on how to address the problems associated with existing private sewers in England and Wales in the autumn.
Jessica Morden: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the likely effects of a deposit system for returnable cans and bottles on the amount of domestic and commercial waste; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The Department commissioned a project last year to evaluate whether a deposit system could provide additional value in the UK alongside the current packaging waste recovery system. The work has now been completed and has taken into account existing deposit and return schemes in other parts of Europe, the USA and Canada. The Government will evaluate the findings including an assessment of the likely cost implications, taking account of the fact that additional costs are likely to be passed on to consumers.
The Department has also had discussions with the Advisory Committee on Packaging, regarding the impact of a deposit system. A task force concluded that the costs would be significant, and might be in the region of £1 billion to £7 billion, depending on how any such systems were set up.
The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) has also been leading a £1.2 million project to help retailers pilot new ways of encouraging householders to return their wastes to collection systems at supermarkets for recycling. The project has looked at whether these new approaches, including the use of new technology in bring banks and incentives such as discount vouchers, could help bolster recycling rates and attract new recyclers.
Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what standards the Government plan to introduce for operators recycling televisions and computer monitors containing cathode ray tubes. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive aims to minimise WEEE arisings and to encourage reuse, recycling and recovery.
Article 6(1) and annex II of the Directive introduce requirements for the treatment of collected items of WEEE to remove certain substances, preparations and components. The aim is to avoid the dispersion of pollutants into any recycled material or the waste stream. Cathode ray tubes (including their fluorescent coating) are among the substances that have to be removed.
This type of treatment will be subject to waste management licencing to ensure the protection of the environment and human health. We will publish guidance on how to comply with these requirements for those involved with the treatment of WEEE once regulations are made to transpose these provisions.
Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what action he is taking to enable butchers who remove specified risk material from carcases to return such material to the abattoir. 
Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 16 June 2006]: The Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (No. 2) Regulations 2006, came into force on 3 May. They enable any butcher to apply to their local authority for an authorisation to remove vertebral column from the carcases or part carcases of cattle which are between 24 and 30 months of age. Vertebral column from this age group of cattle is specified risk material.
We are working closely with industry representatives to facilitate the disposal of vertebral column removed from carcases at butchers shops and have discussed the possibility of having approved intermediate plants operating on abattoir sites. This would allow vertebral column to be returned to the abattoir of origin for disposal. Abattoirs wishing to pursue this option should notify their local animal health office at the earliest opportunity.
Other disposal routes available include rendering and incineration or the use of collectors such as knackers. Guidance on the disposal of vertebral column has been drawn up in consultation with the industry and will be available shortly.
Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many veterinary practices there were in (a) 2006 and (b) 1991. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The Department does not hold information on the number of veterinary practices.
Derek Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the Warden Bay scheme will include replacing the woodland at the top of the cliff. 
Ian Pearson [holding answer 16 June 2006]: I refer to the answer given on 12 June 2006, Official Report, column 905W, which explained that Swale borough council is promoting the Warden Bay coast protection project and details of its construction are a matter for that authority. My hon. Friend may wish to contact the council direct to establish their plans for the area of woodland in question.
Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs by what mechanism the Waste and Resources Action Programme Real Nappy Scheme is audited. 
The Real Nappy Scheme is funded through the Waste Implementation Programme (WIP) and run by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP). WRAP publishes an annual report, which lists the achievements of each of its programmes. WRAP's accounts are audited on an annual basis by their own auditors, like any other company, and the Real Nappy
Programme is considered as part of that process. In addition, the National Audit Office (NAO) is carrying out an investigation into reducing the reliance on landfill in England. As part of that process, they have considered the impact of WIP including the Real Nappy Programme. It is expected that the finalised NAO report will be available later this summer.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much water has been abstracted from the river (a) Lugg, (b) Arrow and (c) Wye in each month since January 2004. 
Ian Pearson: The Environment Agency has provided the following information which is taken from data received from licence holders who are authorised to abstract water from the rivers Arrow, Lugg and Wye. The data cover the period 2004 and 2005.
The information does not include any data declared as commercially confidential.
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