The Biomass Task Force identified that the demand for a skilled work force would increase as the biomass industry expands. The Government recognise that a well trained and highly skilled work force is essential for the future success of the biomass industry and agreed with the task forces recommendation for identifying the skills and training requirements in this
sector. We will continue to work closely with relevant bodies, including the Sector Skills Councils and Regional Development Agencies, on a range of actions to underpin future training provision for both the clean biomass and waste biomass sectors.
Mr. Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs by how many tonnes of carbon dioxide vehicle emissions changed after the passage of the Euro III (2000) emissions standards; and what change is expected once the Euro IV (2005) standards take effect. 
Ian Pearson: The Euro III and Euro IV standards deal with the emissions of pollutants that impact upon air quality, rather than climate. However, while trying to improve air quality through introduction of the challenging emissions requirements of the Euro III and Euro IV standards, the European Community is also working with car manufacturers to achieve voluntary agreements on new car fuel efficiency.
|Table 1: Average carbon dioxide emissions of new cars sold in the United Kingdom, under urban driving, rural driving and motorway driving conditions|
|Emissions (grams per kilometre) of carbon dioxide from average new passenger car|
Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he expects to reply to the letter from the hon. Member for West Chelmsford of 1 March concerning Mr. Dan Stephenson; what the reasons are for the delay in replying; and if he will make a statement. 
The Department has no record of receiving the letter of 1 March. A follow-up letter was received on 25 April but it did not contain a copy of the constituent's letter so officials were unable to draft a response. The hon. Member's office then faxed a copy of the letter to the Department.
Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when (a) an interim and (b) the full single payment scheme payment will be made to Mr. David Diamond of South Brent (holding number 10/296/025); and if he will meet Mr. Diamond to discuss the reasons for delays in payment. 
Barry Gardiner [holding answer 8 May 2006]: I can confirm that Mr. David Diamond of South Brent was made a full payment under the single payment scheme on 10 May 2006. Ministers and officials at the Rural Payments Agency have apologised for the delay in making payments under the single payment scheme and RPA staff are working hard to complete outstanding payments as quickly as possible.
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will keep a separate record of the amount spent annually by his Department on alcohol for hospitality purposes. 
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions his Department has had with (a) the European Commission and (b) other member states of the European Union on proposing policy on improvements in energy efficiency. 
Ian Pearson: Energy efficiency is at the heart of UK energy policy. We have made significant efforts to ensure its importance is recognised at European level to enable the EU to meet its climate change goals, while simultaneously increasing competitiveness and security of supply.
The European Commissions Green Paper on Energy Efficiency, published on 29 June 2005, set a target to reduce energy consumption across the EU by 20 per cent. by 2020. The Government have welcomed the stance taken in the Green Paper and made an active contribution to the consultation process, which ended in March this year. The Government look forward to the release, in September, of an ambitious and realistic Energy Efficiency Action Plan from the Commission, which incorporates comments from the UK, and forms an integral part of EU energy policy.
Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he is taking towards fulfilling his Department's commitment to (a) 70 per cent. uptake of the Entry Level Scheme and (b) providing continued expenditure for the Higher Tier Scheme. 
Barry Gardiner: The Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) scheme is open to all farmers. The Department's only published target for ELS is to achieve 60 per cent. coverage of eligible English farmland by the end of 2007. At the present rate of uptake we are well on course to achieving this target.
Both the Entry Level and Higher Level Stewardship schemes will be funded under the new Rural Development Programme for England 2007-2013. The total amount of funding available will depend on the outcome of discussions at EU level about how the voluntary modulation mechanism will operate from 2007 onwards. No decisions have yet been taken about the rate of voluntary modulation and any Exchequer co-financing in this period.
Since 1999 the Government have published, on an annual basis, the total costs of all ministerial overseas travel and a list of all visits by Cabinet Ministers costing in excess of £500. This information is available in the Library. Information for the financial year 2004-05 was published on 21 July
2005, Official Report, 158WS. Information for the financial year 2005-06 is in the process of being collated and will be published shortly.
The following table shows expenditure for the Department, including its agencies, recorded since the Department was formed in 2001. There are no figures for DEFRA's predecessor Departments as this information could only be provided at disproportionate cost.
|Expenditure on foreign travel including accommodation and subsistence|
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what grants for rural businesses will be administered by the regional development agencies from 2007; what details have been made available on these schemes; and if he will make a statement. 
Barry Gardiner: RDAs will be responsible for delivering the socio-economic elements of the new Rural Development Programme for England from January 2007. Priorities for this European co-funded programme are still being established, taking into consideration the results of a public consultation which ended on 22 May 2006.
RDAs already provide support to both urban and rural businesses, through a range of initiatives within their regions, funded through the RDA single programme. As priorities and activities are determined regionally, initiatives vary between regions. Details of this support is available from each RDA.
Mr. Ian Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many businesses have used the Enhanced Capital Allowance scheme for investment water-saving technologies in (a) Dudley, (b) the West Midlands and (c) England since the scheme's introduction. 
HM Revenue and Customs and HM Treasury ask businesses to tick a box on their income tax and corporation tax returns if their claim to capital allowances includes ECAs for environmentally beneficial technologies (i.e. energy-saving, water-efficient/ sustainable or low CO2
emission cars). However, this cannot specify the number of claims to ECAs made under the water scheme. Claims cannot be refined down to an individual city, local authority or country within the UK.
Mr. Rogerson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 9 March 2006, Official Report, column 1683W, to the hon. Member for Brent, East (Sarah Teather) on the Thames Gateway, what progress has been made as part of the National Flood and Coastal Defence Database in ascertaining the condition of the Thames estuary tidal defences. 
The Thames estuary tidal defences in London and Kent have now been entered into the database. More than 90 per cent. of the Thames estuary tidal defences in the Anglian region have also been entered into the database. Where defences have not been entered this is due to technical reasons rather than a lack of information about defences.
London and the Thames estuary have one of the best tidal defence systems in the world, which provides a high standard of protection from flooding. The Environment Agency is currently developing a major flood risk management strategyThames Estuary 2100to look at how we can manage flood risk to London over the next 100 years, taking into account future predicted impacts of climate change.
Chris Huhne: To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners what the (a) name, (b) professional and academic qualifications and (c) relevant experience are of the Commissioners finance director. 
Sir Stuart Bell: The Commissioners financial and deputy secretary is Christopher Daws FCA, CTA, MCT, MA (Cantab). He has 36 years of financial experience in both the profession and a range of commercial businesses, before joining the Commissioners in 1994.
Helen Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what research his Department has (a) carried out and (b) commissioned into the economic consequences of ending export credit support for UK producers of military goods. 
Mr. McCartney: The Department has not carried out or commissioned specific research into the wider economic consequences of ending export credit support for UK military goods producers. However, it did contribute to a University of York study (2001) into the economic costs and benefits of a reduction in UK exports of military goods. In the recent past, it has also provided data to independent researchers investigating this subject area.
Susan Kramer: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many staff were responsible for approving applications for arms exports in the most recent year for which figures are available. 
Malcolm Wicks: The Export Control Organisation of the Department of Trade and Industry acts as licensing body for all strategic exports from the UK and currently has a dedicated staff complement of 110.
Susan Kramer: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many staff are tasked with monitoring compliance of UK (a) companies and (b) citizens in relation to UK arms export regulations. 
Malcolm Wicks: The Department of Trade and Industry's Export Control Organisation has seven full-time Compliance Visiting Officers who check compliance with the terms and conditions of open export and trade control licences.
Mr. Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimate has been made of the annual carbon dioxide emissions from the new Centrica power plant in Devon once it is fully functioning. 
Malcolm Wicks: Annual emissions from any combustion plant depend on the load factor (the proportion of the time that the plant operates), which is a matter for the plant operator, and the efficiency with which it converts fuel into electricity, which will depend on the design of the plant, also a matter for the plant operator.
If the Langage plant operates at about the average load factor observed for newer plants of this type over recent years (about 66 per cent.) and at the efficiency expected of a new plant of this type (about 47 per cent. on a gross calorific value basis) it might be expected to emit some 1.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per annum.
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