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24 July 2006 : Column 721Wcontinued
Mr. Fraser: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether any of the current functions of (a) English Nature and (b) the Countryside Agency will be discarded in the transfer of responsibilities to Natural England. 
[holding answer 20 July 2006]: None of the current functions of English Nature or the Countryside Agency will be discarded in the transfer of responsibilities to Natural England, although some of the Countryside Agencys responsibilities will transfer to the Commission for Rural Communities rather than
to Natural England. We took the opportunity in the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 to consolidate and simplify the way in which the roles of these bodies have been described in legislation since the 1940s. However the statutory purpose of Natural England is deliberately drawn widely to encompass everything which the predecessor bodies were able to do. It will, of course, be a matter for the Board of Natural England, in consultation with Ministers, to decide how to distribute its resources between its various functions.
Mr. Fraser: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress has been made in amalgamating English Nature and the Countryside Agency to form Natural England. 
Barry Gardiner [holding answer 20 July 2006]: Significant progress has been made towards establishing Natural England. For over a year, the constituent bodies that are to form the new agency have been operating as a confederation of partners working together under a common overarching vision and purpose. In May this year we established Natural England as a skeleton body, with Chair, members and senior officers, to undertake preparatory work. In June, this skeleton body published a document setting out its Strategic Direction. Work is well under way on the remaining arrangements for Natural England to take on its full statutory functions on 1 October.
Mr. Fraser: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what new responsibilities Natural England will have in addition to those arising from the transfer of tasks from the Countryside Agency and English Nature. 
Barry Gardiner [holding answer 20 July 2006]: In addition to the transfer of responsibilities from the Countryside Agency and English Nature, Natural England will also assume responsibility for the majority of the functions which are currently undertaken by DEFRAs Rural Development Service. Principal among these is the administration of agri-environment schemes. The functions will be formally set out in an agreement, under part 8 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006, between the Secretary of State and Natural England.
Mr. Fraser: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how Natural England will co-ordinate its activities with other Government bodies with responsibilities for the natural environment, with particular reference to the Environment Agency. 
[holding answer 20 July 2006]: Natural England will need to work effectively with a wide range of stakeholders at both the national and the regional level. Our Rural Strategy 2004 confirmed the particular importance we attach to the need for Natural England, the Forestry Commission and the Environment Agency to work closely together. A Memorandum of Understanding was agreed in September 2005 setting out how this could be achieved and it was a subject of lively debate during the passage of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Bill. The first major collaborative
project between Natural England and the Environment Agency, on catchment sensitive farming, has begun.
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on how many occasions he has visited each region in an official capacity in the last 12 months. 
Barry Gardiner: Since his appointment my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has visited the South East three times, and the North West, the South West, and the West Midlands each once. In addition he has undertaken numerous engagements in London.
Mr. Bone: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the levels of carbon emissions relating to onshore windfarms. 
Malcolm Wicks: I have been asked to reply.
Once a windfarm has been commissioned it produces no carbon emission.
Of the carbon used in the development of a windfarm, the Sustainable Development Commissions report published November 2005 makes clear that the energy pay back for a windfarm is 3-10 months.
A copy of the full report can be downloaded from their website. http://www.sd-commission.org.uk
Mr. Letwin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department is taking to prevent the habitat of the orang-utan being destroyed in (a) Malaysia, (b) Indonesia and (c) other countries by the increased use of palm oil. 
Barry Gardiner: The Government are very conscious that increasing consumption of goods and services in the UK can have environmental and social consequences overseas. DEFRA is commissioning research on the environmental impacts of internationally sourced commodity production, and palm oil is one of the commodities being investigated. The results of the research will inform future policy development in the UK and abroad.
We are also working hard in a number of areas to tackle the important issue of natural habitat loss that might affect the orang-utan.
For example, the UK Government have been the major financial supporter of the Great Apes Survival Project (GRASP) run by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the UN Educational, Science and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). More information is available at: http://www.unep.org/grasp.
In October 2005, EU Agriculture Ministers finalised new legislation on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) that will allow the EU to enter into agreements with developing countries to provide them with assistance to tackle illegal logging.
The Government are also seeking to address concerns regarding the use of palm oil for transport bio-fuel production. We are proposing to develop a carbon and sustainability assurance scheme to ensure that the best transport bio-fuels are used in the UK. The Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership is looking to define the principal environmental criteria required to protect sensitive eco-systems and will prepare a draft environmental standard to apply to all fuels, including imports.
Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent estimate he has made of the percentage of organic food sold in the UK which was produced in the UK; what powers the UK has to check the authenticity of organic food imported from abroad; and if he will make a statement. 
Barry Gardiner: It is estimated that overall the percentage of organic food sold in the UK which was produced in the UK increased from 30 per cent. in 2002, to 44 per cent. in 2005. For food which can be produced in the UK the estimate for 2005 is 62 per cent. The Soil Association(1) estimates that in 2005, 66 per cent. of the organic primary produce sold by multiple retailers was sourced in the UK
Council Regulation (EEC) No. 2092/91 requires organic food imported from outside the EU to be produced to EU standards for organic production. The European Commission has recognised certain third countries as having equivalent systems of production and control. Otherwise decisions on equivalence are taken by the member states in response to requests from individual importers for the authorisations required for importing organic produce from third countries not recognised by the European Commission for this purpose.
( 1 ) Source :
Organic Market Report 2006published by the Soil Associationdata collected by Soil Association from Tesco, Sainsburys and the Co-op.
Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what agreement he has reached with the Environment Agency on landfill licensing fees for small pet cemeteries; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 19 July 2006]: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 25 May 2006, Official Report, column 1915W.
DEFRA officials, working with the Environment Agency, have now completed their investigation into the scope for taking an alternative approach to the permitting of pet cemeteries. We expect to announce a proposal very shortly.
Dr. Desmond Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs why the Environment Agency proposes to increase its charges to recreational boaters. 
Barry Gardiner: The Environment Agency has a significant backlog of work on its waterways assets. Over the past year it has made considerable capital investment towards reducing the backlog but in order for waterways to remain sustainable in the future, boaters will need to pay a fair and proportionate contribution towards their upkeep.
Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what recycling targets his Department has set for schools; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) how much funding has been allocated for school recycling projects in England; and if he will make a statement; 
(3) what discussions he has had with schools on (a) increasing the provision of recycling facilities and (b) promoting recycling awareness in schools. 
Mr. Bradshaw: No recycling targets have been specifically set by the Government for schools. However, DEFRA does provide financial support for the operation of Eco-Schools, an international programme developed by the Foundation of Environmental Education (FEE) and managed in England by Environmental Campaigns (ENCAMS). Eco-Schools promotes environmental awareness around nine main themes, one of which is waste minimisation and recycling.
Eco-Schools involves the whole school (pupils, teachers, non-teaching employees and governors) together with members of the local community (parents, the local authority, the media and local businesses). The scheme enables schools to enter for an internationally recognised award, the highest level of which is the Green Flag, with intermediary awards of bronze and silver. Over 3,000 schools are currently registered, including 500 schools that have achieved Green Flag status.
DEFRA will be providing £40,000 of funding for Eco-Schools in 2006-07. £100,000 is also provided from non-grant sources, mainly from other sponsorship.
In addition, from April 2006 the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) will be carrying out work with schools, including continuation of the Cycler assemblies, as part of their waste awareness programme. Many local authorities are involved with waste education work, both independently and with WRAP. The Environment Action Fund also funds some projects that work with young people on issues around sustainable consumption.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment the Government have made of the monitoring of the construction of onshore oil and gas pipelines on Sakhalin Island to ensure that it meets environmental standards; and how the information is verified. 
The Government have been closely involved in the Sakhalin project from both an environmental and social viewpoint. There has been close monitoring of the onshore construction of oil and gas pipelines by the potential lender group, including the Export Credit Guarantee Department (ECGD) and the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
Officials from both ECGD and the Department for International Development have visited the island and some of the construction sites.
Additionally, environmental consultants acting on behalf of the potential lenders are carrying out regular monitoring and verification of the project's performance.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what information his Department has received on how many rivers on Sakhalin Island were crossed with oil and gas pipelines as part of the Sakhalin II project outside the designated winter period detailed in the River Crossing Strategy. 
Ian Pearson: The designated winter period for crossing rivers as part of the Sakhalin II project is 1 December to 30 April.
Dates on which the rivers were crossed with oil and gas pipelines are available at the Sakhalin Energy website at:
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures his Department has taken to ensure that there are sufficient safeguards in place to prevent a net loss of salmon spawning area on Sakhalin Island as a result of construction activities by the Sakhalin II consortium; and if he will make a statement. 
Ian Pearson: The Department has gathered information to ensure there are safeguards in place to prevent a net loss of salmon spawning area on Sakhalin Island. Information gathered on the effect of the Sakhalin II project on salmon spawning habitats includes:
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) and other potential lenders and their independent consultants.
Sakhalin Energy has committed itself to ensuring no net loss of habitat. DEFRA will be monitoring performance through its close working relationships with the relevant departments such as ECGD, who, together with other agencies such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), have commissioned independent monitoring of the project.
Mr. Letwin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on what date the Sewage Sludge in Agriculture Regulations will be implemented. 
Ian Pearson: The Sludge (Use in Agriculture) Regulations came into force in 1989. We have consulted on proposed revisions and are currently seeking views from stakeholders before making recommendations on how best to proceed.
Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he made the last assessment of the six-day movement rule; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 20 July 2006]: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 1 February 2006, Official Report, column 525W.
I subsequently announced, on 7 February 2006, an independent review of the livestock movements rules. When announcing the review I made it clear that the length of the movement standstills applicable to any species was out of scope. I expect to receive the report shortly.
Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department is taking to promote slow food. 
Barry Gardiner: Under DEFRA's regional food strategy we have, since 2003, been providing an additional £1 million per year to support the quality regional food sector in England. Food from Britain (FFB) take the lead in the delivery of a national programme of activity that supports producers in the sector. In taking forward this programme of activities, which focuses on trade development, consumer awareness and business competitiveness, FFB work together with a range of organisations, including Slow Food UK.
A good example of this is ensuring a strong British presence at Slow Food's biennial Salone del Gusto food show held in Turin. Both organisations have worked well together for the last two shows in recruiting quality regional food producers for the event and in providing the necessary logistical support at the show. This close co-operation is continuing this year in preparation for the 2006 Salone del Gusto taking place in October.
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