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The Government have inherited the Cycling Policy document produced in 2004 from the Strategic Rail Authority. This encourages all TOCs to carry folding bikes at all times, to carry non folding bikes wherever possible, while recognising that in peak periods there may be circumstances where it is in the best interests of the majority of passengers not to do so, and to supply cycle parking at most rail stations. The policy recommends to TOCs that they provide sufficient cycle parking at stations so that 95 per cent. of all rail journeys start from a station with adequate cycle parking by 2009. To support this policy the DfT recently funded an additional 2,900 cycle parking spaces at stations where demand exceeded capacity.
Derek Twigg: No rural rail services have ceased to operate since 1997, only two small stretches of passenger network at Maindee Loop (near Newport) in 2005 and Sheepcote Lane Curve in 2004 (near Clapham Junction) have closed.
Etruria in 2005;
Sinfin North, Sinfin Central and Pendleton stations in 1998.
Andrew Stunell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will introduce temporary parking exemption blue badges for those suffering short-term impairment for less than 12 months; and if he will make a statement. 
Following a review of the blue badge scheme, the Department for Transport has accepted a recommendation made by the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC), the Departments statutory advisers on the transport needs of disabled people, that the scheme should be extended to people with temporary mobility impairments which severely affect their walking
ability and are likely to do so for at least 12 months. This reflected the consensus of opinion during the review and there are therefore no plans to extend the eligibility criteria to people with impairments lasting less than 12 months at the present time.
Gillian Merron [holding answer 19 June 2006]: In the past two years the Department has approved two London projects that have a benefit-cost ratio below 2: the fit out of the Thameslink Midland Road box; and the Kings Cross LUL Northern ticket hall. Both projects fall within the medium value for money category (benefit-cost ratios in the range to 1.5 to 2).
18. Mr. Rogerson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will make a statement on the findings of the Commission for Rural Communities report on rural disadvantage. 
This is the first major output from the Commission for Rural Communities, demonstrating early action on its mandate to act as a watchdog and advocate for rural people and communities, especially those suffering disadvantage.
Mr. Bradshaw: Historically, year-on-year, the increase of municipal waste has been reduced to 1.5 per cent. and we have also achieved an overall reduction of waste going to landfill of 10 per cent. since 2000.
20. Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has had with ministerial colleagues about the environmental impact of radioactive waste disposal. 
Ian Pearson: The independent Committee of Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM) are currently considering the long-term management options for higher level radioactive wastes. As part of their assessmentswhich have been open and transparent, and in the public domainthey have considered the environmental impacts of the options. The Government look forward to receiving their final report shortly.
Barry Gardiner: We are helping to facilitate local sourcing by providing funding to address issues such as distribution, marketing and the encouragement of new outlets and by working with other bodies to highlight and spread best practice. Food from Britain (FFB) takes the lead in the delivery of a national programme of activity to support the quality regional food sector in England which includes many local food producers.
22. Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what action has been taken since May 2005 to protect wild flower meadows and to encourage the planting of wild flowers. 
Barry Gardiner: Earlier this week we published the 2005 highlight report on progress on the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. It shows that 22 per cent. of priority habitats and 11 per cent. of priority species are increasing, and that more priority species are showing improved trends, including the Deptford pink.
Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to paragraph 3.41 of the 2003 Energy White Paper, what steps he plans to take to extend the energy efficiency commitment beyond the domestic sector. 
The Government concluded that the inclusion of small business within the domestic EEC is not practicable at this point. Options continue to be considered, but in the immediate period support for energy efficiency improvement in this sector will continue via other programmes, notably those of the Carbon Trust, as outlined in Energy Efficiency: The Government's Plan for Action, published in April 2004.
The Government will introduce further measures to encourage and assist Small and Medium Sized Enterprises to take up energy saving opportunities. DEFRA has commissioned work to examine different policy options. This work will draw on the experience of the EEC mechanism in the household sector in informing our views of the best way forward.
Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which rivers were crossed with (a) gas and (b) oil pipelines (i) during and (ii) outside the designated winter period as part of the Sakhalin II project. 
Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what information he has gathered on the effect of the Sakhalin II project on salmon spawning habitat; and what action he is taking to ensure that there is no loss of such habitat as a result of the project. 
Official and ministerial meetings with Shell;
Information included in Sakhalin Energy's River Crossing Strategy;
Monitoring information published by Sakhalin Energy on its website;
Information gathered during site visits carried out by Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD), other potential lenders and their independent consultants.
DEFRA will be monitoring performance through its close working relationships with relevant departments such as ECGD, who, together with other agencies such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, have commissioned independent monitoring of the project.
Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment has been made of the potential impact of an oil spill on the feeding grounds of the Western Pacific Grey Whale in the event of a major incident at the Sakhalin II project; and what assessment has been made of the potential impact of such a spill on those feeding grounds in (a) summer conditions and (b) winter ice conditions. 
Ian Pearson: Information on the potential impact of oil spills on the Western Gray Whales' feeding grounds has been included in a number of assessments, including the Sakhalin Energy Investment Company's (SEIC's) Environmental Impact Assessment (2003) and Addenda (2005), and its Comparative Environmental Assessment (2004). A number of reports on this subject have also been produced for meetings of the IUCN (World Conservation Union) Independent Scientific Review and successor bodies, including a report from the Independent Interim Science Group (IISG), which made a number of specific recommendations to SEIC.
SEIC is developing oil spill response plans that will include measures intended to address the potential impact of a spill on the feeding grounds of the Western Gray Whale in different conditions. These will be reviewed by both Russian authorities and an independent international oil spill response consultancy. The former will address compliance with appropriate elements of Russian Law, whilst the latter will assess the adequacy of plans against a number of recognised and robust international standards.
Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of (a) the Sakhalin Energy Investment Company's oil spill plan response methods and (b) the potential impact of an oil spill on biodiversity in the Sakhalin island area. 
Ian Pearson: Sakhalin Energy Investment Company (SEIC) is developing oil spill response plans, which must be approved by the Russian authorities before oil production can start. These plans will also be reviewed against Russian and international standards by consultants acting for the potential lenders. We will review the conclusions of this work.
We have kept in close touch with SEIC on the issue of oil spills. In recent meetings with SEIC/Shell we have stressed the importance of having adequate measures in place to address the risks, and of SEIC's implementing the Independent Interim Science Group's recommendations.
(a) 45 staff (76.3 per cent.) under 55 years of age and
(b) 14 staff (23.7 per cent.) over the age of 55.
Charles Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many websites there are within his responsibilities; and what the total cost of maintaining such websites was in the last year for which figures are available. 
The cost of running both sites was £5,875 in 2005, with an additional £58.75 charged to renew the domain names.
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