Previous Section Index Home Page

6 Dec 2006 : Column 424W—continued


Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what steps are being taken to combat the bile fluke Pseudamphistomum truncatum; what information he has received from the veterinary community regarding the fluke; how many dead otters have been recorded as having the fluke; which species of fish are being examined to see if they are carriers of the fluke; which regions of the Environment Agency have recorded
6 Dec 2006 : Column 425W
cases of the fluke; how many mink have been examined to see if they have the fluke; and what funding has been allocated for such autopsies; [103867]

(2) what steps he has taken to monitor the spread of the fluke Pseudamphistomum truncatum; and what funding has been allocated to this process. [103868]

Mr. Bradshaw: Otter post mortems are performed as part of an otter health monitoring programme, undertaken by the Environment Agency, in order to monitor the spread of the fluke. This project examines all aspects of otter health, including environmental contaminants. This information is used to direct the conservation measures needed to safeguard the animals in England and Wales. The post-mortem examinations are funded as a component of otter health surveillance work undertaken by the Environment Agency. In addition carcases can be submitted to the Disease of Wildlife Surveillance project undertaken by the Veterinary Laboratories Agency.

The Environment Agency also examines the health of fish prior to their movement in England and Wales. Approximately 400 such samples are examined at Environment Agency laboratories each year. The fluke has not been recorded in any fish examined to date. This routine health screening will continue, however no special measures are proposed in relation to this particular fluke.

Mink are examined through a number of programs including the national wildlife surveillance program operated by the Veterinary Laboratories Agency and also by the Central Science Laboratory as a component of mink control operations. The Environment Agency has looked at a small number of mink, and will continue to examine mink for the presence of the bile fluke as they are submitted as part of other monitoring programmes.

In 2005-06, the Environment Agency spent £27,000 carrying out post mortems on otters. This is an ongoing monitoring programme and all otters submitted to the Environment Agency will be examined for the presence of the bile fluke.

The contractor undertaking this work has published findings up to the year 2004 in veterinary and scientific journals, wildlife magazines, newspapers and has given presentations at several conferences. He submits annual reports to the Environment Agency.

Since April 2005, 18 otters have been identified as being infected with the fluke from a total of 145 animals examined. The fluke has been found in the south west, primarily Somerset and Dorset and more recently in Norfolk and Cambridgeshire. Since November 2005, 17 mink have been examined for the fluke with four cases confirmed as being infected.

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what inquiries are being made into the implications of the spread of the bile fluke Pseudamphistomum truncatum; what warnings he has issued to the veterinary profession about the possibility of infection from the fluke; and what information he has received from other European countries which have dealt with the spread of the fluke. [103869]

Mr. Bradshaw: The Human Animal, Infections and Risk Surveillance (HAIRS) group which includes representatives from the Health Protection Agency, the
6 Dec 2006 : Column 426W
Department of Health, DEFRA, the Veterinary Laboratories Agency and the devolved Administrations, conducted a risk assessment for the zoonotic potential of this parasite in July 2005. They concluded that the possibility of pathogenicity to humans cannot be excluded but human exposure has not yet been identified. The fluke may only be transmitted to humans through the consumption of raw infected fish from rivers. However, the species which harbour this parasite in endemic countries are unlikely to be consumed by humans. There is no record of Pseudamphistomum truncatum in any fish species in the UK despite regular parasite examination of wild fish populations.

The veterinary pathologist who reported the disease in the UK, and is conducting the long-term health monitoring programs for otters, published a letter in the Veterinary Record in January 2006 which informed veterinarians of the potential risk to cats and dogs which feed on raw fish products.

The fluke is widespread in Eastern Europe and Russia and has been reported in otters and foxes in Germany and France and in mink in Spain. Low numbers of human cases have been reported in Russia and these are associated with consumption of raw fish. Cases in cats and dogs have occurred in the aforementioned countries and in Italy. The pathogencity of the disease is not fully understood but the health of all species including humans only seems to be compromised following severe infections of a chronic nature.

Marine Climate Change Partnership

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps have been taken by the Marine Climate Change Partnership to highlight knowledge of climate change impacts on the United Kingdom's marine environment. [104626]

Ian Pearson: On 29 November, I launched the first annual report card of the Marine Climate Change Impact Partnership (MCCIP).

This MCCIP report card is the first ever holistic assessment of the impacts of climate change in UK seas and shows us, at a glance, the latest scientific knowledge on climate impacts on different marine sectors. It also gives an indication of the level of confidence the scientists involved have in the findings. This is extremely useful for decision makers, policy advisors, researchers, scientists, environmentalists and the public.

The eight page report is a summary of the complex science. All of the details can be found as briefing notes on the web version of the report . Copies are available on the MCCIP website at: and will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

Nuclear Industry

Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the limit on the liability incurred by a nuclear operator is in the case of accident; whether that limit is subject to (a) negligence and (b) other conditions; whether that limit is set under international law; whether that limit is under review by his Department; and if he will make a statement. [106991]

6 Dec 2006 : Column 427W

Malcolm Wicks: I have been asked to reply.

A UK nuclear operator’s liability for third-party property damage and personal injury caused by a nuclear accident is generally limited to £140 million. The limit is set in the Nuclear Installations Act 1965, as amended. The Act gives effect to the UK’s international legal obligations under the Paris Convention on third-party nuclear liability and the Brussels Supplementary Convention. The Paris Convention sets a minimum liability limit for nuclear operators. In the event of a nuclear accident for which a UK operator was liable the UK operator would be obliged, as the law stands, to pay compensation very greatly in excess of the Convention minimum and significantly in excess of the OECD recommended minimum. The operator is strictly liable, which means that it would not be necessary for a person seeking compensation for property damage or personal injury to prove negligence. Other requirements and conditions apply under the Act and the Conventions. For example, the operators of licensed nuclear sites in the UK are required to maintain insurance or other financial security covering their liability. The Paris and Brussels Conventions have recently been amended, but the amendments are not in force. Amongst other things, these amendments will, generally speaking, increase the amount of compensation an operator must provide to at least €700 million per incident. In that context, therefore, the liability limit of UK operators is under review. Work to implement these changes into UK law is being taken forward together with other contracting parties to the Conventions.

Prawn Industry

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will take steps to support the UK prawn industry; and if he will make a statement. [104276]

Mr. Bradshaw: The Government support fishing-related industries in the UK in a variety of ways, including grant aid under the Processing and Marketing Grant Scheme, from which the prawn processing industry has benefited in recent years. There are no plans to introduce additional support measures targeted specifically at the prawn sector.


Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what contingency plans the Government has for a sustained period of reduced rainfall. [107036]

Ian Pearson: The Environment Agency has a statutory duty to secure the proper use of water resources. The Agency has drought plans in place which set out how it will manage water resources during a drought and define the Agency’s role and responsibilities. The plans aim to reconcile the competing interests of the environment, the need for public water supply and other water abstractions. They involve monitoring a range of environmental indicators that determine the action it will take to achieve this aim. Actions to manage drought
6 Dec 2006 : Column 428W
include increased environmental monitoring, liaison with water companies, public awareness campaigns and determination of drought permits. More information can be found on the Agency’s website.

All water companies also have drought plans to ensure the security of the public water supply in periods of drought. The Water Act 2003 has made the production of such plans a statutory requirement. The plans contain a series of steps, which cause the company to initiate a range of actions depending on the severity and extent of the drought. One of the actions may involve applying to my Department for drought orders to restrict non-essential use of water.


Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans he has to set recycling targets for waste from (a) small businesses and (b) municipal buildings, including schools. [104151]

Mr. Bradshaw: Waste Strategy 2000 set targets for the management of household and municipal waste. These included 2005, 2010 and 2015 targets for the recycling and composting of household waste (25 per cent., 30 per cent. and 33 per cent.) and for the recovery of municipal waste (40 per cent., 45 per cent. and 67 per cent.). The Waste Strategy Review consultation document, published in February 2006, proposed new targets for 2010, 2015 and 2020 for the recycling and composting of household waste (40 per cent., 45 per cent. and 50 per cent.) and municipal waste recovery (53 per cent., 67 per cent. and 75 per cent.). Waste from schools is classed as household waste.

The consultation document also invited views on how the Government could help overcome barriers to small business recycling. Proposals were made that local authorities could be asked to do more on small business waste by collecting goods for recycling, meeting new government targets for the recycling of the waste they collect, or using charging structures to increase business waste recycling.

The consultation is now closed and we are carefully considering the responses received. DEFRA published a summary of responses to the consultation on 2 August. We intend to publish the revised Waste Strategy for England in the new year.

Mr. Iain Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what guidance his Department has given to local authorities participating in a recycling scheme on the frequency of collection of garden waste refuse in winter. [104717]

Mr. Bradshaw: The Environmental Protection Act 1990 (EPA) places a duty on all waste collection authorities to arrange for the collection of household waste, but it does not stipulate how often collections should occur.

The Government believe local authorities are best placed to make decisions on the waste management strategy for their communities and DEFRA does not therefore intervene in these matters.

6 Dec 2006 : Column 429W

The Waste and Resources Action Programme’s (WRAP) ROTATE programme is a free service that provides advice to local authorities on their collection and communication programmes for kerbside recycling. Further information is available from the WRAP website at:

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what proportion of waste was recycled in each region in each of the last four years. [107849]

Mr. Bradshaw: The percentage of household waste which was recycled or composted in each English region in each of the last four years, is provided in the table as follows.

Region 2002-03 2003-04 2004-05 2005-06

North East





North West





Yorkshire and the Humber





East Midlands





West Midlands















South East





South West











Scarweather Sands Wind Farm

Mrs. Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the status is of the licence application under the Food and Environmental Protection Act 1985 for Scarweather Sands wind farm; whether there will be further negotiations and consultations before a decision is made; and when he expects a decision to be reached. [106490]

Mr. Bradshaw: Scarweather Sands wind farm will require a licence from the Welsh Assembly Government under the Food and Environment Protection Act 1985. DEFRA’s Marine Consents and Environment Unit (MCEU) is administering the application on behalf of the Welsh Assembly Government.

Earlier this year, the developer met with the MCEU, the Countryside Council for Wales and the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science. My officials are currently awaiting additional supporting data from the developer in regards to harbour porpoises. This is expected early in the new year.

This additional supporting data will be assessed in the same way as all other offshore wind farm applications. A decision can only be reached once all the outstanding issues have been resolved to an extent which will allow the National Assembly for Wales to make a decision on the licence application.

Next Section Index Home Page