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Countryside (West Midlands)

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department is taking to encourage the preservation of the countryside in the West Midlands. [88333]

Barry Gardiner [holding answer 25 July 2006]: The West Midlands Region covers an area of 13,000km(2) and comprises two major conurbations—Birmingham, Coventry and the Black Country in the centre, and Stoke on Trent and the Potteries to the north. Around 80 per cent. of the land area is in agricultural or forestry use, with the Region having a greater proportion of Grades 1, 2 and 3 land (Agricultural Land Classification of England and Wales) than the average for England.

The region has four Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), three Environmentally Sensitive Areas, 14 National Nature Reserves, 60 Local Nature Reserves, 19 Special Areas of conservation, one Special Protection Area, 19 Ramsar sites (Wetlands of International Importance) and 439 Sites of Special Scientific Interest. It is covered by 26 Character Areas, which describe and define its natural and man-made landscape.

Approximately 30 per cent. of the agricultural land in the West Midlands is managed under the provisions of agri-environment schemes. There are currently 4,890 live agreements and the annual spend totals £27.63 million. Coverage is increasing annually towards the target of 70 per cent. of the land to be included in entry level schemes by 2008.

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The formation of Natural England, following the Rural Strategy 2004, brings together English Nature, parts of the Countryside Agency, and the environment and land-based activity of the Rural Development Service. The new agency will help land managers to improve biodiversity, landscape, access, recreation and sustainable food and farming.

In the financial year 2006-07, Natural England have offered a total of £890,000 in the form of grants for core funding and projects in the West Midlands. This includes 240,000 from the Sustainability Development Fund to the four Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty: Cannock Chase, Malvern Hills, Shropshire Hills and Wye Valley.

In 2005-06 the Environment Agency habitat creation projects covered a total of 103 hectares in the West Midlands; these received funding totalling £147,000. These projects form part of the Environment Agency's work on Flood Risk Management. They endeavour to maximise the impact of its investment by protecting properties from flooding as well as enhancing the natural environment, in line with the DEFRA strategy, "Making Space for Water".

Departmental Spending

Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much his Department has spent on (a) marine nature reserves, (b) national nature reserves, (c) national parks, (d) sites of special scientific interest, (e) biosphere reserves and (f) areas of outstanding natural beauty in England in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement. [89057]

Barry Gardiner: There is considerable overlap in the geographic areas to which these designations apply. Moreover, funding from a variety of different multi objective mechanisms is available in these areas, in support of all these designations but also for other purposes not listed here. These mechanisms include, for example, the various agri-environment schemes which are funded by my Department, as well as wider funding such as lottery programmes and EU funds.

Total funding from these sources in support of each of these designations cannot therefore be calculated. However, it is possible to identify the following DEFRA funding via its grant in aid to the different delivery bodies involved, which is exclusively in support of one or more of the different designations listed.

English Nature’s designated sites programme supports its work on Sites of special scientific interest, national nature reserves, biosphere reserves and marine nature reserves. The programme covers the cost of their work associated with these different designations including the management of land owned by English Nature and management agreements with landowners. The spend relating to this programme is set out in the following table.

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Financial year English nature spend National park and the Broads authority Grant Areas of outstanding natural beauty grant





































(1 )These are estimate figures.
(2) £1.5 million to £2.0 million steadily increasing to £3.5 million in 2000-01
1. All the figures for English Nature include a small element of EU and lottery funding. The figures for years 2003-04 onwards include salary and admin costs. Capital modernisation funding (years 2002-03 and 2003-04) and sheep national envelope funds (years 2003-04 and 2004-05) also received by English Nature have been excluded.
2. Funding for areas of outstanding natural beauty is provided by the Countryside Agency from the Grant in Aid provided by DEFRA. The sums involved are not ring-fenced by DEFRA. The Countryside Agency supplies 75 per cent. of core funding for areas of outstanding natural beauty (80 per cent. for Conservation Boards) with the remainder supplied by the constituent local authorities; and up to 50 per cent. of project costs with the remainder provided by third parties.
3. It is not possible for the Countryside Agency to provide precise funding figures prior to 2001, nor yet for 2006-07. The figures quoted are for the delivery of the full Countryside Agency areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty programme which includes core and project funding, information and publicity, legal advice, the initial set-up costs of creating the first two AONB Conservation Boards and the introduction of a sustainable development fund.

Disabled Staff

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much was paid to his Department from the access to work scheme for adjustments for disabled staff in the last year for which figures are available; from what budget he plans to meet the costs of reasonable adjustments for disabled staff following withdrawal of access to work funding for central Government Departments; and if he will make a statement. [89005]

Barry Gardiner: DEFRA does not hold information centrally on the use of the access to work scheme. Managers access the scheme directly and liaise with their local service provider.

DEFRA is actively considering means by which it can continue to support disabled staff, following the withdrawal of access to work funding from 1 October 2006.


Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many (a) American pit bull terriers, (b) Staffordshire bull terriers and (c) American Staffordshire terriers are owned by residents in (i) the constituency of Hammersmith and Fulham and (ii) England; and if he will make a statement. [88056]

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Mr. Bradshaw: The terms “American pit bull terrier” and “American Staffordshire terrier” are sometimes used to describe pit bull terriers which are prohibited under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. Some people have been allowed to keep these dogs by adding them to the list of exempted dogs set up under the 1991 Act. Figures for legally held pit bull terriers, which have been described as American pit bull terriers and American Staffordshire terriers are available. However, no records are kept on the numbers of Staffordshire bull terriers as they are not a specified dog for the purposes of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.

The following table gives the numbers:

Legally held dogs under section 3 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991
Hammersmith and Fulham England

American Pit Bull Terriers



American Staffordshire Terriers(1)



(1) For the purposes of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, an American Staffordshire terrier is a pit bull terrier type dog. The figures reflect the type names as provided by the owners.

Mr. Wills: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will undertake (a) an assessment of and (b) a public consultation on the merits of (i) encouraging and (ii) requiring dogs to have identifying microchips implanted at birth for the purposes of improving animal welfare. [87760]

Mr. Bradshaw: The Local Government Act 1988 repealed the old dog licence on the grounds that it cost more to administer than the revenue it produced. Recent information shows that there has been very little change in the population of dogs and the number of straying dogs since 1988. There is no evidence to suggest that the opinion of dog owners has changed and that any new scheme introduced would be adopted.

We currently have no plans to reintroduce a dog licence, or to introduce requirements for dogs to be microchipped. Responsible dog owners voluntarily undertake having their pets permanently identified and registered on nationwide databases. We also continue to support voluntary identification. The effectiveness of dog licensing was also limited by the fact that in the last year licenses were administered, only 44 per cent. of owners applied for their licence.

Energy Crops

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) how many tonnes of each category of energy crop were cultivated in (a) 1999, (b) 2002 and (c) 2005; and what estimate he has made of production of each energy crop in (i) 2009 and (ii) 2012; [89161]

(2) what steps his Department is taking to promote the cultivation of energy crops. [89162]

Paddy Tipping: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent
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estimate he has made of the level of energy crops available for biomass energy generation; and what steps he is taking to increase it. [88438]

Ian Pearson [holding answers 25 July 2006]: Information on the cultivation of energy crops is only available for crops planted under DEFRA’s Energy Crops Scheme. The first plantings were in 2001 for short rotation coppice (which is harvested on a three-year cycle) and 2002 for miscanthus (harvested annually from the second year). Based on actual plantings from 2001-05 and forecasts prepared in 2005 for plantings in 2006-09, based on industry estimates at that time, and assuming average yields of 9 and 14 tonnes per hectare for short rotation coppice and miscanthus respectively, the estimated yields are as follows:

Estimated yields
Oven dried tonnes
Short rotation coppice Miscanthus










However, actual planting will depend on commercial decisions by growers and is likely to be influenced by the nature of contracts and support which are available.

The Government currently provides support to help establish energy crops, develop supply chains, and create end-use markets. The Government set up a Biomass Task Force in 2004 to identify the barriers to developing biomass energy, including energy crops, and to recommend ways to overcome the problems. The Government’s response to the Task Force report was published in April 2006 and sets out 12 key initiatives and over 60 associated actions to help realise optimum use of biomass as a resource. These measures include agreement in principle to support energy crops under the new Rural Development Programme for England, further grant support for biomass supply chains, a capital grant scheme for biomass boilers, a commitment to consider using biomass in the Government estate, and the establishment of a new biomass energy centre to provide expert information and advice to industry and the public. We also intend to publish a UK Biomass Strategy in the coming year.

Support for miscanthus under the new Rural Development Programme for England is subject to clarification of issues with the European Commission which remain to be resolved.

EU Food Designations

Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many successful applications for the European Union's (a) Traditional Speciality Guaranteed designation, (b) Protected Geographical Indication designation and (c) Protected Designation of Origin status have been made by (i) the UK and (ii) each of the European Union member states since the designation's inception. [88777]

Barry Gardiner: The number of successful applications made by (i) the UK and (ii) each of the
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EU member states for the three designations under the European Union's Protected Food Names Scheme since its inception is as follows:

(a) Traditional speciality guaranteed (b) Protected geographical indication (c) Protected designation of origin

(i) The UK




(ii) Other EU member states









Czech Republic















































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