Previous Section Index Home Page

18 Dec 2006 : Column 1437W—continued


Mr. McLoughlin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he expects the Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to reply to the letter dated 8 November 2006 on Backdale and Wagers Flat from the hon. Member for West Derbyshire. [109149]

Barry Gardiner: I apologise for the delay. A reply was sent on 6 December 2006.

Emissions Trading Scheme

Colin Challen: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what net reduction in carbon dioxide emissions he expects to result from the entry of aviation into the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. [108287]

Ian Pearson: Since the Commission has yet to publish the draft legislative proposal for including aviation in the EU ETS, and therefore emission allowances have not yet been determined, the expected net reduction of CO2 emissions resulting from the inclusion of aviation in the scheme cannot be specified.

Emissions trading offers the best solution to tackle emissions from this sector as it will ensure that the environmental outcome of reducing emissions is achieved in the most cost-effective manner possible.

Energy Efficiency

Mrs. Hodgson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) if he will assess the merits of subsidising the cost of energy saving light bulbs for low-income households; and if he will make a statement; [108190]

(2) what progress has been made towards the target of ensuring that every home switches at least three bulbs to energy saving bulbs; and what steps the Government plan to take to ensure that people on low incomes are able to make this switch. [108247]

Ian Pearson: Energy efficient light bulbs are already cost-effective purchases for most consumers. However, the Government recognise the need to accelerate market take-up and has a range of policies which aim to achieve this. There is, however, no target to ensure that every home switches at least three bulbs to energy saving bulbs.

18 Dec 2006 : Column 1438W

Under the Energy Efficiency Commitment, electricity and gas suppliers are required to meet targets for the promotion of improvements in domestic energy efficiency. They do this by encouraging and assisting household consumers to take up energy efficient measures, including compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) which are often offered to consumers at subsidised prices. We announced last year the results of the first three-year phase of the commitment which saw around 10 million British households, six million of which were on low incomes, benefit from energy saving measures delivered by the energy suppliers. These included about 40 million CFLs, 60 per cent. of which were distributed to a priority group of low-income consumers, mostly for free. CFLs continue to be promoted under the current phase of the Energy Efficiency Commitment.

Low energy light bulbs are one of the measures that can be installed under the Government's Warm Front scheme, which is our main programme for tackling fuel poverty in England. Further information on this scheme is available on the DEFRA website at:

Mrs. Hodgson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) whether steps are being taken to restrict the sale of non-energy efficient incandescent light bulbs in the UK; and if he will make a statement; [108191]

(2) what steps his Department has taken to introduce more rigorous standards for reducing energy waste from light bulbs; and if he will make a statement. [108194]

Ian Pearson: The Government remain fully committed to raising product standards and encouraging consumers to use the most efficient products available. In the Energy Review, the Government made clear their intention to work with other Governments, manufacturers and retailers, to seek to phase out the least efficient light bulbs.

DEFRA's Market Transformation Programme (MTP) supports measures such as the mandatory EU energy labelling scheme which, for domestic light bulbs, has been mandatory since 1 January 2001. Minimum energy performance standards have resulted in the removal of the most inefficient fluorescent lamp ballasts from the market. (Lamp ballasts are required to control the current passing through fluorescent discharge tubes, which dissipate energy and can affect the light output efficiency of the fluorescent tube itself).

For further information I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, West (Mr. McGovern) on 31 October 2006, Official Report, column 272W.

Mrs. Hodgson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether he plans to ensure that all Government buildings and departments replace standard light bulbs with energy saving light bulbs; and whether an estimate has been made of potential savings from such a policy. [108236]

18 Dec 2006 : Column 1439W

Ian Pearson: Departments have adopted targets to reduce energy use across the central Government estate of buildings, with the aim of making Government offices carbon neutral by 2012, and to reduce the Government’s total emissions from buildings by 30 per cent. by 2020.

To help achieve these targets, Departments are committed to buying energy efficient equipment, including lighting, for its buildings. Current procurement standards for replacement light bulbs require A-rated performance, which corresponds with compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) technologies. New lighting systems must comply with the same energy efficiency design criteria as are required for enhanced capital allowances available to businesses investing in approved energy saving technologies.

These measures are designed to ensure lighting systems and all standard light bulbs are replaced by the most efficient alternatives. Our estimate is that this has the potential for lighting savings of over 160 GWh per year once all lighting has been improved, equivalent to over 16,000 tonnes of CO2. Most of the savings will come through using more efficient fluorescent lamps and ballasts, and installing lighting controls.

Forest Biomass

Mr. Morley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether his Department classifies single stem forest biomass as an energy crop; and if he will make a statement. [109294]

Ian Pearson: Single stem forest trees planted after31 December 1989, and grown primarily for the purpose of being used as fuel, would qualify under the definition of energy crops given in the renewables obligation.

Northumbria Water

Mr. David Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will investigate the impact on churches in the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle of Northumbria Water's proposals to change the charging method for surface water draining. [105074]

Ian Pearson: Ofwat, the economic regulator of the water and sewerage industry in England and Wales, is responsible for approving companies' charges schemes.

Sewerage service charges are increasing for some Northumbrian Water non-household customers, and reducing for others, due to the transfer from a rateable value-based charging method to a site-area-based charging method for the surface water drainage (SWD) element of the sewerage charge.

In 2003 Ofwat carried out a review of SWD charges and published its conclusions in a letter to all companies (RD35/03). Ofwat advocated a move towards site-area-based charging for non-household customers. It considers that charging by site area is the fairest method of charging as it results in more cost-reflective charges for non-household customers.

Northumbrian Water are phasing in site-area-based charging for SWD for existing non-household
18 Dec 2006 : Column 1440W
customers over three years. By 2008-09 charging will be based wholly on site area. This is designed to phase the impact on customers.

Ofwat encourages companies to offer partial rebates to customers where it can be shown that water does not drain to a public sewer.


Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the Department of Health on the possible health consequences of farmers using organophosphates. [109648]

Mr. Bradshaw: Officials in both Departments are in regular contact about organophosphate issues and the possible consequences to human health. They do this in their daily work and through attending meetings of the Official Group on Organophosphates, the Veterinary Products Committee and the Medical and Scientific Panel.

Park Homes

Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether, under the 2001 Water Order, park home site owners may charge maintenance costs in advance of maintenance on water and sewage systems being carried out; and if he will make a statement. [109173]

Ian Pearson: In April 2001, Ofwat introduced the Water Resale Order. This offers protection against overcharging to domestic customers who purchase their water or sewerage services from another person.

The costs of maintaining or improving the water and sewerage infrastructure on park home sites (or any other site where water resale occurs) fall outside the scope of section 150 of the Water Industry Act 1991 and therefore the Water Resale Order. Maintenance costs must not be included in the water and sewerage charges.

Pig Industry

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the extent of the presence of MRSA in pigs in (a) the UK and (b) imported pork; and if he will make a statement. [108853]

Mr. Bradshaw: DEFRA policy with respect to methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) in animals is guided and advised by the DEFRA Antimicrobial Resistance Co-ordination (DARC) group, and specifically by the MRSA subgroup of DARC that was established in 2004 in response to increasing interest in this area. Following consultation with the subgroup and other interested parties, DEFRA has commissioned a research project, being conducted by the Veterinary Laboratories Agency, to test all clinical isolates of Staphylococcus aureus from cattle over a two-year period, for methicillin resistance. This work began in January 2006 and, to date, no MRSA isolates have been identified. DEFRA has
18 Dec 2006 : Column 1441W
also commissioned research, currently under way, investigating the risk factors for MRSA-related disease in companion animals.

The inclusion of other livestock species, including pigs, in the remit of this project has been considered by the subgroup but has not been taken forward due to little evidence of the occurrence of MRSA in other food-producing animals in the UK, and due to the fact that S. aureus is not generally considered to be a major pathogen in livestock species other than cattle, where it is a significant cause of mastitis.

There is no current evidence that food-producing animals form a reservoir of MRSA infection in the UK, although the DARC MRSA subgroup will keep the situation under continued review.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is not aware of any UK surveillance of imported pork or other meats for the presence of MRSA. An FSA-funded survey to determine the prevalence of various pathogens and indicator organisms on raw red meat on retail sale is currently being undertaken across the UK. Both UK-produced and imported pork is included in this survey and, while enumeration of S. aureus is being undertaken, isolates are not being screened for antimicrobial resistance.

The FSA's advice on cooking of pork and pork products recommends that they should be thoroughly cooked. As there is no evidence to suggest that MRSA is more heat tolerant than other S. aureus, cooking would be expected to destroy any MRSA if it was present on raw meat.

River Severn: Flooding

Dr. Richard Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when the pallet flood defences for the Wribbenhall side of the River Severn at Bewdley were acquired; when they were deployed; for what reasons they were not deployed (a) on and (b) leading up to the flooding on 10 December 2006; what arrangements are in place to inform householders of (i) flood risks and (ii) flood protection deployment; and for what reason householders were not informed of the situation on 10 December 2006. [109238]

Ian Pearson [holding answer 14 December 2006]: The Environment Agency (EA) acquired the temporary defences early in 2006. They carried out a “dry trial” at the site in June and employed consultants Atkins Limited to review the performance of the defences.

A draft report—“River Severn Temporary Flood Barriers-Interim Assessment of the Installation Locations”—issued by Atkins in September, raised concerns about the high risk of the barriers moving under certain conditions. The report recommended greater consideration of this matter and a more detailed review of each of the deployment locations. Further work is under way, but the health and safety issues at Bewdley are not yet resolved and until then the EA's view is that it would not be in the interests of public safety to deploy the defences at Beales Corner.

The EA notified all affected residents of their position on 1 December via the Bewdley Residents' Flood Committee. Householders were also informed
18 Dec 2006 : Column 1442W
that the EA is optimistic that Wribbenhall will be protected from flooding in early 2007.

The EA issued a Flood Watch on 6 December to317 householders, and a Flood Warning for the River Severn on 8 December to 279 householders through Flood Warnings Direct and local radio. Wyre Forest District Council were on site at Beales Corner with sand bags and door guards. The demountable defences on Severnside North and Severnside South were successfully deployed, protecting nearly 50 properties from flooding.

Single Payment Scheme

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many environmentally sensitive area payments have been delayed due to remapping in line with single farm payment areas. [108193]

Barry Gardiner: Natural England are required to carry out a number of administrative checks on all environmentally sensitive area scheme claims. Any discrepancies found are then investigated and resolved before payment is authorised. These checks include an automatic cross check against land parcel numbers on the rural land register but the number of claims that require further investigation specifically because of this are not recorded separately.

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what his latest estimate is of the percentage of single payment scheme funds which were disbursed by 30 June 2006 in England; and if he will make a statement. [107979]

Barry Gardiner: As at 30 June 2006, the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) disbursed £1.438 billion in full or partial payments to 107,888 claimants. This represents 94.1 per cent. of the latest estimated£1.528 billion total fund.

Definitive percentage and total fund figures will be known only once the last claim is validated and necessary corrections made.

Waste Management

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research the Department has undertaken into best practice of local government in waste management and recycling facilities; and if he will make a statement. [109379]

Mr. Bradshaw: The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) carries out a number of research projects on different aspects of waste management. WRAP's Recycling and Organics Technical Advisory Team (ROTATE) was launched in June 2004 as an addition to its existing programmes for local authorities (LAs). It is a free advisory service that provides hands-on advice and best practice to LAs in England and Northern Ireland on their collection programmes for dry recyclables and organic waste. The service also offers best practice advice on local communications and awareness programmes.

18 Dec 2006 : Column 1443W

WRAP provides toolkits and best practice guides for LAs. These collate results of LA-related studies, which enables the sharing of best practice. WRAP will also be running food waste collection pilots to research the most effective way to divert food waste from landfill. The research results will be shared with all LAs.

Additionally, the DEFRA Waste Implementation Programme's Local Authority Support Unit (LASU) provides direct support and information to local authorities on waste disposal and recycling. The unit assists with the removal of barriers to improved waste performance and provides information on other agencies and programmes that offer relevant support.

This good practice and guidance on waste management issues is shared to local authorities through the LASU website ( In addition, a Waste CD ROM containing good practice, toolkits, guidance, and further information was produced by LASU and made available to all LAs this year.

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many local authorities provide residents with the facility to recycle wet or putrescible food waste. [109380]

Mr. Bradshaw: The Department does not hold a definitive list of all local authority recycling collection schemes, and these are also subject to rapid change. The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) are aware of at least 15 local authorities that offer separate collection of food waste to their residents. There will also be others that co-collect food waste with garden waste. In 2005-06, local authorities in England collected an estimated 2.4 million tonnes of organic material, consisting of both kitchen and garden waste, although the vast majority of this will be garden waste. This organic waste was collected for centralised composting schemes from households via kerbside schemes or taken by householders to civic amenity sites.

As well as providing compost, a useful end product, recycling food and kitchen waste helps divert waste from landfill and therefore contributes to our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

WRAP is working to encourage more composting, providing support and advice to local authorities on collecting dry recyclable and organic wastes through its Recycling and Organics Technical Advisory Team (ROTATE).

WRAP is also working with local authorities and other partners to improve the uptake of home composting and has distributed 1 million home composting bins to households across the country.

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which types of plastic bags can be characterised as compostible under EU regulations for disposal in wet or putrescible recycling bins. [109381]

Next Section Index Home Page