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Mr. Dai Davies:
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether he plans
to increase resources available to the Environment Agency to use for work on radioactive waste regulation. 
Ian Pearson: The Environment Agency (EA) recovers the costs of its statutory regulatory activities directly from nuclear site licensees and from non-nuclear users of radioactive materials, through statutory charging schemes. Through the Health and Safety Executive, from nuclear site licensees, and currently through an agreement with Nirex, the EA has other cost recovery routes for its assessment work relating to nuclear waste conditioning and eventual disposal.
The EA and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) are jointly considering how the NDA may fund an increasing level of work that the agency plans to undertake during the coming years, in accordance with the Governments Managing Radioactive Waste Safely implementation programme.
Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will assess the merits of making funding available to support the expenses of public and stakeholder engagement on the detail of implementation of geological disposal of radioactive waste. 
Ian Pearson: In developing the implementation framework for the geological disposal of higher-activity radioactive waste, the Government will consider the provision of any engagement and community packages as proposed by the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM). The implementation framework will be subject to public consultation next year.
Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether radioactive waste from private nuclear operators including British Energy will become part of the proposed inventory of nuclear waste to be placed in the geological repository. 
Ian Pearson: The Government have accepted the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management's (CoRWM) recommendation for geological disposal as the best technical option for the long-term management of the United Kingdom's higher-activity radioactive waste. The inventory of materials for disposal in any given facility will need to be clearly defined before agreements with potential host communities can be finalised and before technical options are developed in depth.
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to his Oral Statement of 25 October 2006, Official Report, columns 1519-34, on the radioactive waste management report, how many jobs will be transferred from Nirex to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority; where they will be located; and what
estimate he has made of the (a) one-off and (b) ongoing cost savings which will result from the transfer. 
Ian Pearson: Nirex has key skills and expertise that we shall be safeguarding, as these are of utmost importance to the programme of work to secure geological disposal. It is anticipated that the staff of Nirex will transfer to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) on terms at least as favourable as those they currently enjoy. The NDA will consult with staff to explore their options and preferences as part of the integration process.
For the foreseeable future, Nirex staff will remain at Harwell. Under the proposed transfer, this would, however, be a matter for the NDA, and would be the subject of discussions with individual staff. There are no plans for relocation.
Although currently owned by DEFRA and Department of Trade and Industry, the majority of Nirex's funding comes from the contract they retain with the NDA. It is anticipated that the proposed restructuring, utilising the powers given to the NDA under the Energy Act 2004, will provide the most efficient and robust means of implementing Government policy in future without the need to go through the costly and time-consuming establishment of new statutory bodies.
Mr. Bradshaw: The Government collect information from UK organic certification bodies relating to land area utilised but not the volume of food produced. This information is shown in the following table.
|UK organic and in-conversion land use (2000-06)|
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what guidance he has issued on pet fairs; and whether he plans to bring forward amendments to the Animal Welfare Bill in relation to pet fairs. 
The Government do not consider it necessary to table any amendments to the Animal Welfare Bill in relation to pet fairs. The Bill will allow pet fairs to be
regulated through secondary legislation to be made under clause 13. Any proposals will be subject to wide consultation.
David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he is taking to encourage poultry slaughterhouses in England to change from constant voltage to constant current stunners; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The Government funded research into the development of a constant current stunner, which showed that there are welfare benefits from this method. However, it also identified some practical limitations and we are not aware that any equipment manufacturer has to date produced a system that can be operated commercially.
David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many (a) broiler chicken and (b) turkey slaughterhouses in England use gas to kill the birds; and which gas mixtures are used in each case. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The most recent survey, conducted in 2003, indicated that two broiler chicken slaughterhouses and two turkey slaughterhouses use gas to kill the birds. Provided that the gas mixture used is permitted under the Welfare of Animals (Slaughter or Killing) Regulations 1995 (as amended), it is for the slaughterhouse operator to decide which gas mixture to use.
David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he is taking to encourage poultry slaughterhouses in England to change from electrical stunning to non-aversive gas mixtures for the killing of broiler chickens and turkeys; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Both electrical stunning and gas killing are legally permitted methods of slaughter under the EU slaughter directive (93/119/EC) and the Welfare of Animals (Slaughter or Killing) Regulations 1995 (as amended). It is for slaughterhouse operators to decide which method to adopt.
When the slaughter directive is reviewed, we will support making available all gas mixtures that have been demonstrated through research to be minimally aversive and deliver acceptable welfare at slaughter.
David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the proportion of (a) broiler chickens and (b) turkeys electrically stunned in England that (i) receive pre-stun electric shocks, (ii) are stunned using pulsed direct current, and (iii) have both carotid arteries severed at slaughter; and if he will make a statement. 
The Welfare of Animals (Slaughter or Killing) Regulations 1995 (as amended) require that no bird receives an electrical shock before stunning in a waterbath. If this does occur, enforcement action is taken by the Official Veterinarian to rectify the problem. In general, design modifications or alterations to the operation of the waterbath are effective in preventing pre-stun electrical shocks.
Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the effect on the incidence of bovine tuberculosis of pre-movement testing. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The effect on the incidence of bovine tuberculosis of pre-movement testing was considered in a regulatory impact assessment which is available on the DEFRA website at: http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/tb/pdf/prmt-regulatory.pdf. This assessment is being kept under review.
Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether his Department has estimated the cost to the farming industry of pre-movement testing of cattle. 
Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the financial implications for cattle farmers of the introduction of pre-movement testing for cattle over 15 months from 27 March 2006; and what financial implications he anticipates from the extension of pre-movement testing to cattle under 15 months from 1 March 2007. 
Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 1 November 2006]: Pre-movement tests are a private transaction between a farmer and their local veterinary inspector. Government continue to fund the provision of tuberculin and all routine TB surveillance tests, at a cost of approximately £40 million per year. These routine tests qualify as pre-movement tests if the animals are moved within 60 days of testing.
Cost sharing on animal health issues between Government and industry is a key part of our animal health and welfare strategy. As there are benefits to herd owners from buying or selling cattle with additional disease assurance, herd owners are now expected to share the costs of tests which are outside the routine surveillance programme.
The financial implications of pre-movement testing were considered in a regulatory impact assessment which is available on the DEFRA website at: http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/tb/pdf/prmt-regulatory.pdf. This assessment is being kept under review.
Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what steps he is taking to encourage British producers to make use of the European Union protected food name scheme; 
Barry Gardiner: The European Union (EU) protected food name scheme provides farmers and producers with a way in which to add value to their product and meet consumers demand for more regional and local food. Under DEFRA's Regional Food Strategy, we have tasked Food from Britain with working with the Regional Food Groups and producers to raise awareness of the scheme and encourage more applications.
Over the last two years DEFRA has written to a large number of trade associations and producers to remind them of the economic benefits to producers of achieving protected name status, and held positive meetings with a number of key organisations including the National Farmers' Union, the Country Land and Business Association, the English Beef and Lamb Executive, the British Pig Association and the Milk Development Council to discuss possible applications.
This research aimed to determine the awareness, perception, and attitudes towards, the EU protected food name schemes among UK retailers. I am pleased to say that all this effort is yielding some positive results. In addition to the 36 UK products which have been registered so far, a further nine applications have been submitted to the European Commission with 20 more at the UK stage of the application process.
Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress has been made towards the 2004 Spending Review Public Service Agreement target to reduce the gap in productivity between the least well-performing quartile of rural areas and the English median by 2008. 
Barry Gardiner: The progress which has been made towards the Public Service Agreement target to reduce the gap in productivity between the least well-performing quartile of rural areas and the English median is detailed in chapter 3 of the Departmental Report 2006. A copy is available in the House Library.
Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress has been made towards the 2004 Spending Review Public Service Agreement target to improve the accessibility of services for people in rural areas. 
The progress which has been made towards the Public Service Agreement target of
improving the accessibility of services in rural areas is set out in chapter 3 of the Departmental Report 2006, a copy of which has been deposited in the House Library.
Dr. Blackman-Woods: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department is taking to encourage local authorities to expand their recycling programme to include (a) recycling of plastic and (b) kerb-side recycling. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Recycling is strongly promoted by a range of Government policies and we have set demanding targets, both nationally and locally, for household waste recycling and composting. However, these targets are not material-specific. The Waste Strategy review consultation, which we carried out earlier this year, also included proposals to set much more ambitious household waste recycling and composting targets, to reach 40 per cent. by 2010 and 50 per cent. by 2020. As well as encouraging more sustainable resource use, increasing recycling rates helps divert waste from landfill and therefore contributes to our efforts to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions. Local authorities ever- diminishing landfill allowances, allocated under the Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme, also provide a strong incentive to divert greater amounts of biodegradable waste from landfill.
Plastics can present a challenge for recycling as there are a number of different types in use, each requiring separate collection (or separation after collection) and treatment facilities to recycle. It inevitably takes time for this capacity to develop. However, more demanding recycling targets will mean authorities will be compelled to turn their attention to the more difficult waste streams, including plastics.
Under the Household Waste Recycling Act 2003, all local authorities in England will be required to collect at least two types of recyclable waste from all households in their area by the end of 2010. Most households already receive this, or a better, level of service.
The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), funded by DEFRA and the devolved administrations, is working to promote sustainable waste management by creating stable and efficient markets for recycled materials and products, including plastics and compost. WRAPs Recycling and Organics Technical Advisory Team (ROTATE) programme helps local authorities improve the efficiency of their recycling services. This includes advice to those planning to introduce a new scheme or the collection of a new material such as plastic.
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