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Fishing Boats

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs from where he plans to allocate the quota for under 10 metre fishing boats. [110910]

Mr. Bradshaw: Allocations for fishing vessels of 10 metres and under in length are calculated as a share of UK quotas for stocks, which are set at the December Fisheries Council.

The UK quotas are adjusted to take account of post- council and end of year swaps. Further adjustments are made to account for penalties that may apply as a result of overfishing of quotas in previous years and any quantities that may be banked or borrowed in line with European regulations.

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The initial allocations made to 10 metre and under vessels are calculated from fixed quota allocations for each stock, which are based on the catch pattern of these vessels during a standard reference period. The allocations vary from stock to stock.

In addition, the share of the quota that 10 metre and under vessels receive is underpinned for a number of stocks that have traditionally been considered of key importance to those vessels. This provides those vessels with a guaranteed minimum share of the stocks, although the precise amounts may change in line with the UK quotas.

Opportunities are also taken to increase the allocations for the 10 metre and under vessels through the operation of economic links arrangements and by in-year swaps.

Flood Prevention

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what procedures are in place to assess the effects of flood prevention measures on (a) natural and (b) man-made water routes. [110603]

Ian Pearson: All flood risk management schemes are rigorously assessed by the relevant operating authorities to capture and manage any likely impacts on the environment. In addition to ensuring as far as possible that such schemes do not cause environmental damage, every effort is made to use flood risk management operations to enhance the environment and thus provide multiple benefits from the investment of public money.

We are of the view that these processes are sufficiently robust to cater for any new requirements under the Water Framework Directive (WFD), although current procedures are presently under review to ensure that they are appropriate for WFD responsibilities.


Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many homes in (a) East Cambridgeshire, (b) Cambridgeshire and (c) England were affected by flooding in each of the last five years. [110860]

Ian Pearson: The last significant flooding in Cambridgeshire took place between December 2002 and January 2003 when 84 Cambridgeshire properties were affected. The Environment Agency received no reports of flooding of homes in East Cambridgeshire as a result of this incident.

Cambridgeshire also experienced severe flooding in October 2001. According to reports made to the Environment Agency, 500 properties were flooded across Cambridgeshire as a whole. However, only a single property was flooded in East Cambridgeshire.

The figures for October 2001 are based upon post-event survey work carried out by the Environment Agency and represent the total reported flooding from main rivers, non-main rivers, surface water and other flooding.

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In addition to these major flood events, there are anecdotal reports of flooding from other, localised, events such as intense summer thunderstorms which suddenly inundate properties over a small area. The Environment Agency does not hold statistics for these occurrences.

The Environment Agency does not compile figures for flooded properties at a national level.

Greenhouse Gases

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether his Department has (a) conducted and (b) commissioned research on the comparative contribution to the release of greenhouse gas emissions of conventionally grown food crops and organically grown foodstuffs. [117279]

Ian Pearson: Defra funds a large amount of research on the measurement and mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture.

Two recently published Defra-funded research projects have included an examination of the greenhouse gas emissions from the production of conventionally and organically grown crops and foodstuffs. ‘Determining the environmental burdens and resource use in the production of agricultural and horticultural commodities’ was published in September 2006. The study included a comparison of the environmental burdens arising from the production of ten key commodities using a range of farming methods (including organic).

‘Environmental Impacts of Food Production and Consumption’ was published in January 2007. The objective of the project was to compare available international life cycle information on top-selling food products to achieve insights into the environmental impacts of a representative selection of food products commonly purchased in the UK.


Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans he has put in place to help local authorities meet higher targets for landfill diversion. [117136]

Mr. Bradshaw: Action to reduce the amount of waste which is sent to landfill is driven by regional and local strategies and supported by nationally funded programmes. As well as encouraging more sustainable resource use, diverting waste from landfill contributes to our efforts to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

The landfill allowances trading scheme (LATS), which we established in 2005, is the main measure in place to help local authorities (LAs) meet national obligations under the EU Landfill Directive to divert biodegradable municipal waste (BMW) from landfill. LATS is a market mechanism that provides LAs with the flexibility to reduce the amount of BMW they landfill in the most cost effective way.

In addition, the Government are providing funding and support to LAs to help them promote and develop more sustainable waste management practices such as recycling, reuse and waste minimisation.

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The Waste Implementation Programme (WIP) has a number of projects under way which will help LAs reach their statutory recycling targets by providing best practice, guidance and toolkits for waste management. WIP provides direct support and information to LAs on planning, waste disposal and recycling. In addition, the WIP-funded waste and resources action programme (WRAP) is working with a number of LAs on programmes designed to improve the efficiency of recycling schemes and establish home composting and other minimisation activities.

Funding is provided to LAs to increase recycling and divert waste from landfill through the waste performance and efficiency grant (a three-year targeted grant totalling £260 million), with a further £535 million available from private finance initiative credits from 2006-08.

The waste infrastructure delivery programme (WIDP), which we announced in May last year, will work nationally with LAs and the regions to accelerate the build of new waste diversion infrastructure.

We are working towards challenging national targets and most LAs are making progress. They are achieving higher recycling and composting rates for household waste and greater reuse of waste materials and are working to reduce the amount of waste produced in the first instance.

The revised waste strategy for England, which we will publish in the spring, will outline what steps are being taken, and what more needs to be done, to reduce the amount of waste that is sent to landfill. The public, businesses and the Government all have roles to play in following more sustainable waste management practices.

Marine Fisheries Agency

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for what reasons the Marine Fisheries Agency’s performance targets for (a) fishing vessel licensing, (b) quota management, (c) grants and (d) marine environment were revised; and if he will make a statement. [110592]

Mr. Bradshaw: The Marine Fisheries Agency’s targets were refined in the light of operational experience and to ensure realistic and appropriate measures of performance. Specific explanations for each amended target are set out as follows:

Fishing Vessel Licensing

The amendment reflects the Agency’s work to simplify the issue of fishing vessel licences for over 10 metre vessels. Such licences are now issued every two years rather than annually.

Quota Management

The revised target ensures that the Agency reports on its performance in managing fisheries quotas for which it has responsibility. The previous target included management of quotas that were the responsibility of other fisheries administrations in the UK that the Agency was not responsible for.

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The target was amended in the light of operational experience. It was unrealistic, within available resources, to require 100 per cent. of claims to be processed within eight weeks. The revised target remains challenging, but is more realistic. The Agency will, however, continue to aim for all claims to be processed within the eight-week deadline.

Marine Environment

The Agency undertakes inspections of Food and Environment Protection Act (FEPA) licensed construction sites, ensuring that accessible sites are inspected during licensing periods. However, licensing periods do not correspond with the period covered by the annual performance target. This makes it difficult to report or measure activities in a meaningful way. The Agency is developing a risk-based approach to inspection, which will take account of the environmental and fisheries sensitivities of the FEPA licensed activity. The target was amended to reflect that decision. Risk-based inspection targets will apply for 2007-08.

Methane and Carbon Dioxide Emissions

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research he has (a) commissioned and (b) supported into measures to reduce (i) methane and (ii) carbon dioxide caused by farm animals. [117135]

Ian Pearson: Agriculture as a whole contributes 7 per cent. of all UK greenhouse gas emissions and 14 per cent. globally, but less than 1 per cent. of carbon dioxide. Emissions of carbon dioxide attributed to agriculture arise from direct energy use such as the use of diesel in tractors, gas in heating greenhouses, and electricity used in livestock buildings. The bigger challenge is on two other gases, methane and nitrous oxide, of which some 36 per cent. and 67 per cent. respectively comes from agriculture, livestock, manures, and artificial fertiliser. About 86 per cent. of this methane comes from enteric fermentation in the digestive system of animals (sheep, pigs and bovines), and about 14 per cent. from animal waste. Methane emissions from agriculture have declined by 12 per cent. since 1990.

In December 2006, Defra announced a £750,000 investment in research on ruminant nutrition regimes to reduce enteric methane and nitrogen emissions from livestock. This research project will build on our knowledge-base and take an integrated approach to the development of ruminant nutrition regimes to deliver reductions in total greenhouse gas emissions (particularly methane) per animal and per unit of meat and milk output. Approaches for consideration include the modification of forage-based diets, alterations to concentrate feed formulation and ingredients, and feed supplements. All options and solutions will be looked at.

This research builds on a wealth of past work where Defra and its predecessor have invested in research to improve the productivity of dairy cattle. The resulting increases in individual cow milk yields can reduce methane emissions per unit of milk produced. The Defra research has included, for example, developing grass varieties that are high in sugar and lead indirectly to a reduction in methane emissions.

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The Government are also reviewing its approach to anaerobic digestion (AD), a system which, when used in agriculture, processes animal manures and food wastes, and generates methane (biogas) which can be captured and used as a renewable energy source. This technology reduces methane emissions from manures when the methane is captured effectively. Defra is investing in research at the Institute for Grassland and Environment Research looking at how AD technology can be embedded into farming and agricultural systems to deliver a wide range of benefits, including methane mitigation. This research is being done in conjunction with a large EU-funded project looking at the optimisation of AD technology.


Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the quality of the data used in the Environment Agency’s Life Cycle Assessment of Reusable and Disposable Nappies in the UK; and when a revised version of the Assessment will be published. [110913]

Mr. Bradshaw: The Environment Agency’s (EA) 2005 “Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of Disposable and Reusable Nappies in the UK” was critically reviewed by an external expert appointed by the EA prior to its publication.

The Critical Review concluded that methods used to carry out the LCA were consistent with the International Standard and that data used were, in general, appropriate and reasonable in relation to the goal of the study.

The published report reflects the revisions recommended by the critical review process. The Review and practitioner’s responses are included as Annex C in the published report.

However, the LCA did make recommendations for further work, which would reflect changes in the main type of re-usable nappy used and how ‘good practice’ in the way re-usable nappies are used would affect the conclusions. This further work is due to be published in the spring.

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate his Department has made of the tonnage of disposable nappies sent to landfill sites in the last year for which figures are available. [110914]

Mr. Bradshaw: We do not collect information on the amount of disposable nappies used or their disposal route.

However, the Environment Agency’s “Life Cycle Assessment of Disposable and Reusable Nappies in the UK” report, published in 2005, estimated that 2 to 3 per cent. of household waste is made up of disposable nappies. This equates to approximately 400,000 tonnes of waste each year. In 2005-06, 62 per cent. (approximately 17.9 million tonnes) of municipal waste was sent to landfill.

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Non-departmental Public Bodies

Mr. Hurd: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which non-departmental public bodies are sponsored by his Department; what the function is of each body; and what the annual budget of each body was in the most recent year for which figures are available. [116772]

Barry Gardiner: Details of the remit, Government funding and gross expenditure of public bodies sponsored by Defra can be found in the Cabinet Office publication “Public Bodies 2006”, copies of which are in the Library and which is also available online at:

Plastic Bags

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will reverse his decision on a plastic bag levy for shoppers. [111430]

Mr. Bradshaw: The Government have no current plans to introduce a levy on plastic bags for shoppers.

Although a levy on plastic carrier bags may reduce the number of disposable lightweight plastic bags in circulation, there is at present no clear evidence that such a tax would be beneficial on either broad environmental or litter grounds. The net overall environmental effect of a levy would depend largely on the nature and extent of substitution by other products, including the use of bags made from other materials and alternative forms of packaging.

On 12 October last year, the Scottish Minister, Ross Finnie, and I jointly chaired a meeting with major UK retailers, to discuss a proposed voluntary code of practice on reducing the use of paper and plastic carrier bags.

DEFRA is working closely with the devolved administrations, the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), the British Retail Consortium, retailers and the plastics industry on this issue and we intend to announce a programme of joint activity shortly.

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