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9 Jan 2007 : Column 479W—continued

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he is taking to encourage people to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. [110137]

Ian Pearson: Approximately 40 per cent. of carbon dioxide emissions in the UK stem from actions taken by individuals. We each therefore have a crucial role in tackling climate change.

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DEFRA works through the Climate Change Communications Initiative to raise awareness and understanding of climate change and its impacts. In particular, the initiative aims to provide people with the advice and encouragement they need to think and act in a more sustainable way.

DEFRA also provides funding of around £27 million a year to the Energy Saving Trust (EST) to support its work in promoting energy efficiency in the household sector. EST’s activities aim to raise awareness and provide advice on specific measures designed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

DEFRA has developed a guide to greener living, which is available through the internet. This provides information and practical advice to help members of the public reduce their environmental impact. The guidance is available at:

DEFRA is developing further tools, such as a carbon calculator, to provide people with clear and reliable information about the climate impacts of different actions and choices. We also plan to launch a consultation on a code of best practice for offsetting products, to give people greater confidence that these products are effective.

Hurricanes and Tornadoes

Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) how many injuries there were as a result of tornadoes in each year for which figures are available; what costs were incurred due to tornadoes in each year; what assessment he has made of the likely effect of climate change on those numbers in future years; and if he will make a statement; [108957]

(2) how many tornadoes were recorded in each region in each year for which figures are available; and what effect he expects climate change to have on the number in future years; [108960]

(3) what research has been (a) conducted and (b) funded by his Department on the (i) effects and (ii) frequency of (A) tornadoes and (B) other future extreme weather events. [108965]

Ian Pearson: The Met Office has records of tornadoes reported by its network of manned observing stations. The only such recorded occurrence of a tornado was at Chivenor, Devon at 09:00 on 4 August 1960. This, of course, does not preclude other events that were not detected by the Met Office's stations.

The tornado over north-west London was generated within a fast-moving squall line moving east on the morning of 8 December 2006. Data were collected from numerous observational systems as this weather event passed over the UK. However, due to the small scale of the phenomena reported, no single operational synoptic observational system was close enough to measure the tornado directly.

Tornadoes are too small to be directly considered as part of current climate models. Any effect of climate change must be inferred from larger scale phenomena.
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To date, there is no clear indication of what effect climate change might have on either the frequency or intensity of tornadoes in the UK.

Research, funded by the Ministry of Defence through the Public Weather Service (PWS), has been conducted at the Met Office in the past to examine the predictability of tornadoes and associated severe thunder storms. There are no current plans to fund further PWS research at the Met Office on the occurrence and predictability of tornadoes.

Extensive research is also carried out at the Met Office, funded as part of the PWS, into the occurrence and predictability of extreme weather events. The primary output of PWS-funded research is to improve prediction of high-impact weather in the UK. However, this research does not address any future changes in the frequency or intensity of such events.

The main avenue of DEFRA funding for research on future extreme events in the UK is through the Met Office Hadley Centre and UK Climate Impacts Programme. DEFRA has also funded, or is funding, work at the Hadley Centre through the Climate Prediction Programme into future global extremes, including extra-tropical storms, tropical storms, drought, extreme precipitation and heat waves. However, DEFRA has not funded any specific research on the effects and frequency of tornadoes.

DEFRA does not hold information on either the number of people injured or the costs incurred as a result of tornadoes.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he expects the publication of the next assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; and if he will make a statement. [110157]

Ian Pearson: We look forward to the publication of the fourth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment report, which is expected to be published in 2007 according to the following schedule:

The IPCC has completed three assessment reports to date, in 1990, 1996 and 2001. The first and second reports provided a firm foundation on which to build climate policy and were influential in developing an international response to climate change, including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol. The third report presented important advances in the scientific understanding of climate change and its projected effects and showed clearly the effect of human activities on the climate system.

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Ministerial Blog

Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which of his posts have been removed from his blog; and for what reasons. [112691]

Barry Gardiner: No posts have been removed from the blog.

Nuclear Decommissioning Agency

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on what basis the decision was made not to undertake a public consultation on his proposals to merge Nirex into the Nuclear Decommissioning Agency. [112646]

Ian Pearson: There has been an extensive process of consultation by the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management on the future management of radioactive waste, involving the public and stakeholders. Further consultation is planned next year on the site selection process.

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) was given the powers for disposal of radioactive waste under the Energy Act 2004 and this followed public consultation and parliamentary debate. The proposal to augment the NDA’s capabilities by incorporation of skills and technology from United Kingdom Nirex Ltd. followed careful consideration in the light of views from Nirex, the NDA and others.

The Government believe that the arrangements set out in the Secretary of State’s statement to Parliament on 25 October 2006, Official Report, column 1519, represent the most positive way forward in ensuring that CoRWM’s recommendations are taken forward in a timely and effective way, to the public benefit.

Ocean Acidification

Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will assess the consequences for the UK (a) population and (b) economy of ocean acidification; and if he will make a statement. [110158]

Ian Pearson: Ocean acidity has been relatively stable for over 20 million years. However, the seas are becoming more acidic as increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide is absorbed at the sea surface. Models suggest that surface pH has decreased by 0.1 pH unit since pre-industrial times.

The full impacts of acidification remain largely unknown and, at present, we have little hard evidence of changes that have occurred, or are occurring, in UK waters. However, it is predicted that organisms such as corals, some plankton, shellfish and sea urchins may become less able to produce calcareous parts, such as shells, by the middle of this century if the current trend continues.

We still do not have enough information to assess the consequences of ocean acidification for the UK population and economy, but DEFRA and the Department for Trade and Industry are aware of the possible effects and are funding research on the impact
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of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide, and consequent ocean acidification, on the marine environment.

We also intend to develop a pilot marine monitoring programme for measuring acidity in the UK shelf sea as well as further ecosystem-based measurements in conjunction with the Natural Environment Research Council under their Oceans 2025 initiative.

Post Office

Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations his Department has made to the Department of Trade and Industry on the role played in village communities by rural post offices. [110012]

Barry Gardiner [holding answer 18 December 2006]: The Department has worked closely with the Department of Trade and Industry and other Government Departments, including the devolved Administrations, throughout the development of the Government's proposals for future support of the post office network—which the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry has since announced on 14 December 2006.

Radioactive Waste Policy Group

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the (a) remit and (b) membership is of the radioactive waste policy group (RWPG); what reports have been issued by the RWPG; and if he will make a statement on the future of the group. [110121]

Ian Pearson: The Radioactive Waste Policy Group (RWPG) is chaired and managed by DEFRA. RWPG represents Government Departments, devolved Administrations, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and the principal regulatory bodies.

RWPG has the remit to carry out reviews, calling on external advice as necessary, and to co-ordinate radioactive waste management policy and regulatory initiatives.

The group meets three to four times a year and functions through correspondence during the intervening periods.

Further information and RWPG updates are available on the DEFRA website at:


Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much municipal glass was recycled by each London borough in the last two years for which figures are available; how much was (a) recycled back into glass bottles or jars and (b) used as aggregate in each case; how many tonnes of carbon dioxide were (i) saved and (ii) produced in each case; if he will estimate what the net difference would be in carbon dioxide savings if all the glass collected was recycled back into glass bottles or jars; and what steps he is taking to encourage further carbon dioxide savings. [113493]

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Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 8 January 2007]: The tonnage of municipal glass collected for recycling for each waste authority in London is shown in the following table for 2003-4 and 2005-06. A complete dataset for 2004-5 is not available due to the piloting of a new data collection system in this year.

Figures for the four joint waste disposal authorities include the tonnages collected by their constituent waste collection authorities and any glass collected for recycling through civic amenity sites run by the disposal authority. These tonnages, particularly for 2003-04, do not include glass if it is collected as part of a co-mingled kerbside collection scheme.

Authority Authority Type 2003-4 2005-6

Bexley LB




Tower Hamlets LB




City of London




Westminster City Council




Redbridge LB




Newham LB




Havering LB




Barking and Dagenham LB




East London Waste Authority




Waltham Forest LB




Islington LB




Haringey LB




Hackney LB




Enfield LB




Camden LB




Barnet LB




North London Waste Authority




Southwark LB




Lewisham LB




Greenwich LB




Sutton LB




Merton LB




Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames




Croydon LB




Bromley LB




Richmond upon Thames LB




Hounslow LB




Hillingdon LB




Harrow LB




Ealing LB




Brent LB




West London Waste Authority




Wandsworth LB




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