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24 July 2006 : Column 716W—continued


I am placing in the Library of the House a list which itemises the directives adopted together with:

Details of all Directives in force can be found on the Eur-Lex database available on the European Union’s website at: http://europa.eu.int/eur-lex.

Environmental Management

Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether his Department (a) is committed to the achievement of environmental management to ISO 14001 standard and (b) has been externally certified as in compliance with that standard; and if he will make a statement. [81183]

Barry Gardiner: DEFRA is firmly committed to the achievement of environmental management systems ISO 14001 standard in its buildings. A programme of independent accreditation to that standard is under way. The priority is for our larger sites to achieve accreditation and at the end of June, a total of 27 sites (offices and laboratories), covering 78 per cent. of staff in the Department and its Executive Agencies, were accredited to ISO 14001. Three further sites covering eight per cent. of staff in the Department have environmental management systems in place, which are yet to be independently certified to the standard.

DEFRA has submitted data relevant to this question (including external certification) for annual Sustainable Development in Government Reports. The last Report published by the Sustainable Development Commission in December 2005, covering the reporting period April 2004 to March 2005, is available at: http://www.sd-commission.org.uk/watchdog.

Martin Horwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will commit the Government to compliance with the ISO 14001 Environmental Management Standard. [85982]

Ian Pearson: On 12 June the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs announced new sustainable operations targets for the Government estate. Environmental management systems (EMS) are a key enabler in supporting improvements in operational performance on the estate, particularly in areas such as energy, water and waste. Therefore, the new targets included a commitment that all Government Departments should have an EMS in place, based, or modelled upon, a recognised system (such as ISO 14001, or the European regulation EMAS).

Departmental performance against EMS estate targets has been published in annual Sustainable Development in Government Reports. The last report published by the Sustainable Development Commission, the independent watchdog, was in December 2005. It covered the reporting period April 2004 to March 2005 and is available at: http://www.sd-commission.org.uk/watchdog

Farm Subsidies

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 18 April 2006 to the hon. Member for Winchester (Mr. Oaten), Official Report, column 24W, on farm subsidies, whether the former Chief Executive of the Rural Payments Agency remains on paid leave of absence; when a decision on his future will be made; and if he will make a statement. [73215]

Barry Gardiner: As a priority, DEFRA appointed an interim Chief Executive of the RPA to lead the organisation through the next period, and work has already begun to strengthen the senior management team. The former CEO of the RPA is currently on paid leave and we are in the process of resolving his employment issues through the proper legal procedures in line with the Department’s HR good practice.


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Mr. Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he expects the Single Payment Scheme funds for the period between December 2005 and February 2006 to be paid. [85413]

Barry Gardiner: The EU regulatory payment window for 2005 Single Payment Scheme ran from 1 December 2005 to 30 June 2006. The Rural Payments Agency began to make payments to English farmers in February 2006 and by 30 June over £1.438 billion (94.9 per cent. of total estimated expenditure) had been disbursed. The remaining sums will be paid as soon as possible.

Fisheries

Michael Gove: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what share of the EU Fisheries Fund agreed on 19 June will be allocated to (a) the UK and (b) each other EU member state. [86469]

Mr. Bradshaw: The European Fisheries Fund, which will replace the current Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance (FIFG) from 1 January 2007, will run for seven years with a total budget of €3.849 billion. We anticipate that the UK will be allocated about €122 million. However, the Council regulation has not completed its formal procedures so the figure is subject to confirmation. Therefore the Department does not yet hold specific information relating to other member states.

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 4 May 2006, Official Report, columns 1729-30W, what report his Department has made to the European Commission on by-catch monitoring under the obligations of Council Regulation (EC) 812/2004. [87342]

Mr. Bradshaw: The UK Government’s report to the European Commission, on by-catch monitoring, is available on the DEFRA website at: http://www.defra. gov.uk/fish/sea/conserve/regulation.htm.

Flood and Coastal Defences

Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when the full updating of the National Flood and Coastal Defence database will be completed. [86366]

Ian Pearson: The National Flood and Coastal Defence database has been developed in a number of phases. The latest development means that it can now hold data on structures that help control coastal erosion as well as flood defences, and it is now live and available to staff in both the Environment Agency and the operating authorities. Further development will be planned to meet evolving needs.

Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what his Department's expenditure has been on flood defences in 2006-07; and if he will make a statement. [86075]


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Ian Pearson: The Environment Agency (EA) is the principal operating authority with responsibility for flood risk management in England. DEFRA has provided £141 million to the EA in grant in aid in 2006-07 up to the end of July. This supports capital improvement projects, maintenance and operation of existing infrastructure, and associated activities such as flood warning, public awareness of flood risk and advising planning authorities with respect to development in areas at risk of flooding.

Local authority expenditure on flood risk management other than capital projects is supported through the Department for Communities and Local Government Revenue Support Grant mechanism.

Capital projects to manage coastal erosion risk often also provide significant benefit in terms of reducing risk of flooding from the sea but expenditure on these is routed directly to local authorities by DEFRA, and is not included in EA grant in aid. It would not be possible to identify the proportion resulting in flood risk benefit without incurring disproportionate cost.

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment the Environment Agency has made of the flood defence systems in Robertsbridge, East Sussex; and if he will make a statement. [86887]

Ian Pearson: The Environment Agency’s current assessment of the Robertsbridge flood defence systems is that they are in very good condition and able to function in accordance with the design.

However, modifications, which will improve the Agency’s response time during a flood incident, are to be made to the road crossing defences this summer in time for the start of the flood season.

GM Crops

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what genetically modified crops are licensed to be grown in the UK. [87519]

Ian Pearson: Only one type of genetically modified (GM) maize seed, Monsanto's MON 810, is currently approved and being made available for commercial cultivation in the European Union. MON 810 is not suitable for UK growing conditions.

Greyhound Racing Industry

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations he has received from animal welfare organisations on the decision by the greyhound racing industry to pursue self-regulation; and if he will make a statement. [86535]

Mr. Bradshaw: The Department has received representations from a number of animal welfare organisations about regulating greyhound racing.

I recently received a joint letter from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Dogs Trust and the League Against Cruel Sports outlining their concerns on the self-regulation of greyhound racing. These organisations are represented
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on DEFRA’s Greyhound Working Group—set up to examine the welfare aspects of greyhound racing and to offer advice to Ministers and officials on future regulations and a code of practice. This group has yet to make any recommendations.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will reconsider the decision not to include proposals for statutory provision for greyhound racing in the Animal Welfare Bill. [87343]

Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps are being taken to promote the welfare of retired greyhounds. [87137]

Mr. Bradshaw: The Animal Welfare Bill, currently before Parliament, will introduce an offence of failing to provide for the welfare needs of an animal. This will apply to owners and keepers of all animals, including racing and retired greyhounds. In addition, we are considering making specific regulations under the Animal Welfare Bill in relation to the welfare of racing greyhounds. We consider that these regulations are better contained in secondary legislation rather than on the face of the Bill.

Mr. Wills: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many racing greyhounds were killed at the end of their working lives in each of the last five years. [87402]

Mr. Bradshaw: The Government do not hold such information.

H7N3 Virus (Norfolk)

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what compensation is available for Norfolk poultry farmers whose poultry has been culled as a consequence of the outbreak of the H7N3 virus. [68649]

Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 8 May 2006]: Under the Animal Health Act 1981, compensation is payable for all healthy birds culled for disease control purposes; the amount is the value of the bird immediately before slaughter. This applies to all birds suffering from any strain of avian influenza, regardless of whether it is of high or low pathogenicity. We also provide compensation for eggs or other property that is destroyed.

In the recent cases of H7N3 in Norfolk, the affected poultry owners will receive compensation for all birds slaughtered because the mortality rate was low and slaughter was conducted on suspicion of disease.

Landscape Management

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research he has (a) conducted and (b) commissioned into (i) the capability of farmers to continue to manage the landscape and (ii) possible further changes to the Single Farm Payment to encourage this. [85120]

Barry Gardiner: The Government are committed to conserving and enhancing the countryside and biodiversity and recognise the key role played by farmers and other land managers. The introduction of Environmental
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Stewardship (ES) in 2005 was recognition of the benefits that can be delivered by farming and provides funding to farmers and other land managers in England who deliver effective environmental management on their land. Together with the introduction of cross-compliance conditions under the Single Payment Scheme (SPS), this will ensure that the English landscape continues to be protected and enhanced. It will also encourage the retention, if not expansion, of countryside management skills.

Past research has considered implications of common agricultural policy Reform on land management, including the take-up of agri-environment schemes. A new research programme was set up last year to monitor the impacts of the introduction of the SPS on farm level change and the environment under the Agricultural Change and Environment Observatory Programme, details of which are at: http://www.defra.gov.uk/farm/policy/observatory/index.htm. The results of that programme will help inform the UK negotiating position in future EU discussions on both the SPS rules and wider CAP reform.

Environmental Stewardship has also an evaluation strategy, available at http://www.defra.gov.uk/erdp/pdfs/es/ES-EvaluationPlan-Feb06.pdf, and is supported by research and monitoring programmes. The projects under these ES programmes tend to focus on issues such as ‘effectiveness’, ‘efficiency’ and ‘improvements’ relating to the management options of the scheme. The ‘capability of farmers’ is not investigated independently but is a factor that can influence the outputs of these projects.

Methane

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps are being taken (a) in England and (b) internationally to reduce the effects of methane emissions. [84239]

Ian Pearson: UK methane emissions between 1990 and 2004 fell by an estimated 50 per cent., mainly as a consequence of reductions in sectors such as waste, agriculture, coal mining and natural gas distribution.

More recycling, helped by the introduction of the landfill tax, and an increase in the capture of landfill gas for energy recovery, has led to an estimated 63 per cent. fall in landfill emissions since 1990. There has been a 40 per cent. decrease in landfill emissions since 1999, when the Government increased the landfill tax to £10 per tonne of waste. Agriculture accounts for around 41 per cent. of UK methane emissions, and emissions from this sector have fallen by an estimated 13 per cent. since 1990.

We are currently reviewing our approach to anaerobic digestion, which can help to capture and utilise emissions from manures and slurries, as part of the Government’s response to the Biomass Taskforce Report. Additionally we are continuing to fund research on options to reduce direct emissions from ruminants.

Methane emissions from coal mining fell by more than 70 per cent. between 1990 and 2004 due to the closure of coal mines as a consequence of fuel switching in the energy supply industry and UK Coal participation in the UK Emissions Trading Scheme. Methane gas extracted from mines and used as fuel has
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been exempt from the climate change levy since 2003. This exemption encourages the owners of mining facilities and decommissioned mines to invest in systems that capture methane that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere.

Fugitive emissions from natural gas have fallen by about 39 per cent. between 1990 and 2004. National Grid Gas, which owns and maintains the UK gas distribution network, is continuing to improve the UK gas network. Internationally, the UK is taking an active role in the international Methane to Markets Partnership, and will co-chair a new Agriculture Sub-Committee with Argentina. This will examine the scope for capturing methane from animal wastes in a cost-effective way.

Nanotechnology Products

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he plans to publish details of the Government’s timetable for the introduction of mandatory regulations for nanotechnology products; and whether they will apply retrospectively for those products already on the market in the UK. [83267]

Ian Pearson: From a review the Department has undertaken and has published on the DEFRA website, I am assured that much of our current legislation addresses risks from materials regardless of their size. DEFRA has responsibility for the possible environmental risks from nanomaterials. If there are environmental risks which need controlling, irrespective of whether the cause of the risk is already marketed or not, they will be appropriately controlled and emergency powers are available if needed.

I am aware that very small materials may pose new risks and it is with that in mind that the UK are moving towards a framework of appropriate control. We are therefore currently gathering evidence to see if these types of products represent a hazard or risk to the environment that would require additional control. Our evidence-gathering phase, working across the UK Government, is scheduled to cover the next two years, at which point it is intended that there will be a fundamental review of the need for control. Given this, there are no plans for the mandatory regulation of nanotechnology products and hence no plans for publication.

DEFRA recently consulted on this approach. The consultation period ended on 23 June but information is still available on the DEFRA website: http://www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/consult/nanotech-vrs/index.htm


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