Mr. Bone: To ask the Solicitor-General what action is available to the Crown Prosecution Service in circumstances where a clerical error by a magistrates court clerk is preventing the re-charge of a person suspected of an offence. 
The Solicitor-General: Clerical errors by a magistrates court clerk do not of themselves prevent the recharging of a suspect. A defendant may, however, challenge the decision to re-charge on the basis that a fair trial is no longer possible.
Mr. Bradshaw: Local authorities (LAs) have a duty under Part IV of the Environment Act 1995 to review and assess the current, and likely future, air quality in their areas. The first step of the review and assessment process is an updating and screening assessment (USA), which is to be undertaken by all authorities to identify those matters that have changed since the last round was completed. LAs are expected to undertake the reviews and assessment every three years. Where local authorities consider that one or more of the nationally prescribed air quality objectives for each of the seven pollutants is unlikely to be met by the relevant deadline, they must declare an air quality management area (AQMA), covering the area where the problem is expected. These local authorities must then take action, along with other agencies and organisations, to work towards meeting the air quality objectives.
When the local air quality management system was first introduced in December 1997, local authorities were advised to complete the review and assessment process by December 1999. My Department assessed Wirral's air quality report in October 1999. The report concluded that further investigation was needed in respect of nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter (PM10). Following monitoring and modelling, Wirral concluded from the additional work that they did not need to declare an air quality management area (AQMA).
The second round of reviews and assessments started in 2003 and local authorities had to submit
updating and screening assessments (USA) by the end of May 2003, and were expected to submit either a detailed assessment or a progress report by April 2004 and April 2005 respectively. Wirral submitted their USA in October 2003 and a progress report in both November 2004 and February 2006. They concluded that there was no need to proceed to a detailed assessment or declare an AQMA.
The third round of review and assessments has now started and local authorities were asked to submit new USAs by end of April 2006. We received Wirral's report in May 2006. Our consultants have assessed the report and agreed that there is no need for Wirral to carry out further work in respect of any of the seven pollutants.
Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs why the UKs biofuels targets are set by volume; and which other EU countries set biofuels inclusion targets by volume. 
The UK is exceptional among EU member states in setting its biofuel sales targets on a volume rather than an energy basis. We have chosen to do it this way for simplicitys sake. Transport fuels are sold and taxed on a volume basis rather than an energy content basis: motorists buy fuel by the litre rather than by the megajoule. We will be consulting in early 2007 on whether, in the longer term, volume-based targets for renewable transport fuels remain appropriate, or whether we might move towards some other form of target such as a carbon-saving target instead.
Mr. Bradshaw: In line with the Government strategic framework for the sustainable control of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in Great Britain the Government are working in partnership with interested parties to reduce the geographic spread of bTB and achieve a sustained reduction in high incidence areas. In the last year, the Government have introduced new, tailored policies to reflect regional variation in disease risk (for example, pre-movement testing and the more extensive use of gamma interferon).
Farmers also have a crucial role to play in reducing the risks of introducing bTB into their herd not only by complying with statutory policies designed to limit the spread of the disease but by ensuring they apply good bio-security measures and suitable husbandry practices.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has had with the Northern Ireland Department of Agriculture and Rural Development on lessons learned from the recent false BSE test in Northern Ireland. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in Northern Ireland is undertaking a thorough investigation into events surrounding the release into the food chain of an over-30-month (OTM) bovine animal which was not tested for Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE). Once the report from this investigation is available, the OTM Implementation Review Group, set up by the Food Standards Agency, will consider and make recommendations on any lessons learned in Northern Ireland which should be applied to the OTM testing system throughout the UK.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations his Department has received calling for the introduction of variable rate charging for domestic rubbish. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Variable charging for household waste was strongly supported in a range of responses to the consultation on the Review of the Waste Strategy, particularly by environmental groups and local authorities. Respondents argued that charging would reduce waste and increase recycling rates, an important element in tackling climate change.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment his Department has made of the possible reasons for the rise in fly-tipping offences measured by the Flycapture database. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The number of local authorities in England submitting regular returns of fly-tipping incidents to Flycapture, the national fly-tipping database, has significantly increased from 79.5 per cent. in April 2004 when the database was first launched, to 92 per cent. in 2005-06; so one reason for the increase might simply be better reporting.
My officials and I have worked closely over recent months with English Nature (now Natural England) and representatives of the fishing industry to reach a compromise on the areas of the bay to be closed. After due consideration of all of the evidence produced, we concluded that a zonal solution, backed by independent scientific assessment and advice, was the most proportionate way to provide the necessary protection for those areas of Lyme Bay of greatest nature conservation and marine biodiversity importance.
For pink sea fans, this solution affords seven times the protection that had existed under the previous voluntary agreement. The protection zones cover over 92 per cent. of the known pink sea fan sites in Lyme Bay. We have considered how best to give statutory effect to the voluntary closure and will be consulting on a suite of possible alternative measures early in the new year.
Mr. Love: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what factors he took into account when deciding not to extend the Mayor of Londons statutory powers to include Part IV of the Environmental Protection Act 1990; what assessment he has made of the impact of the decision on preparations for the 2012 Olympics; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The Government took into account a number of factors when making its decision on the waste element of the review of the powers and responsibilities of the Mayor of London and the Greater London Authority. These included environmental benefits, costs, risks and views of interested parties. The Government did not consider extending the Mayors powers to include Part IV of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 as a separate issue in the review.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether waste recycled at a county council amenity site in a two-tier area counts towards a borough council's Best Value performance indicators for recycling. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Authorities (including London boroughs and metropolitan boroughs) should include the tonnage of household waste collected from civic amenity sites for the purposes of calculating best value performance indicators only if they have legal responsibility for the sites.
Mr. Bradshaw: The current best value performance indicators (BVPI) on recycling, BVPI 82a and BVPI 82b, measure each local authority's achievement against its statutory performance standards for recycling and composting household waste only.
Home composting is currently excluded from the definition of household waste for the purposes of calculating BVPI 82b, as there is, as yet, no auditable methodology for determining how much household waste is treated in this way.
However, the impact of home composting is reflected in other BVPI indicators. Encouraging the householder to home compost will reduce total household waste arisings which will contribute positively towards BVPI 84 (kilograms of household waste collected per head of population).
A recent White Paper, published by the Department for Communities and Local Government, sets out a new framework for local authority performance from 2008-09 with a single set of national outcome indicators (agreed through Comprehensive Spending Review) and fewer targets. We aim to announce options for future waste targets and indicators in the new year.
Barry Gardiner: The Commission will be obliged to propose a reduction in direct payments due to farmers in all EU15 member states if budget forecasts suggest that expenditure will come within €300,000 of the Pillar One ceiling under the terms of the so-called financial discipline mechanism introduced as part of the June 2003 CAP reform.
Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether his Department has any outstanding requests for (a) information and (b) opinion from the Parliamentary Ombudsman arising from her investigation into the ban on swill feeding. 
Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when his Department received a draft of the report by the Parliamentary Ombudsman on the ban on swill feeding; what response he has made to it; and when that response was made. 
In addition, around £16 million has been committed to support research and development of tidal power technologies under the DTI technology programme and a further £50 million has been made available under the DTI's marine renewables deployment fund to support the first larger-scale pre-commercial grid-connected wave and tidal-stream demonstration projects.
The Government announced in the energy review report their intention to consider banding the RO so as to give more support to emerging energy technologies and are currently consulting on this approach. They also announced that the DTI together with the Welsh Assembly Government, are working with the Sustainable Development Commission, the South West Regional Development Agency and other key interested parties to explore the issues arising on the tidal resource in the UK, including the Severn estuary, including potential costs and benefits of development using a range of tidal technologies and their public acceptability. The study is due to report in June 2007.
Martin Horwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what proportion of waste was taken to landfill in each year since 1997; what assessment has been made of the impact of landfill waste on the environment; and if he will make a statement. 
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|