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19 Feb 2007 : Column 183W—continued

Home Energy Efficiency Scheme

Jon Trickett: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many homeowners have declined a Warm Front grant when the total cost proposed exceeded the grant maxima; what steps his Department takes to secure funding from other sources when such homeowners are asked to pay the excess; and if he will make a statement. [119496]

Ian Pearson: Since June 2005, all eligible Warm Front applicants received a minimum of energy advice and energy efficient light bulbs.

However 2,133 householders declined a main heating measure when the grant maxima was exceeded.

These 2,133 householders account for 4.8 per cent. of all cases that exceed the grant maxima.

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Of the 2,133 cases highlighted, 347 received an alternative heating measure within the grant maxima. This leaves 1,786 householders who did not receive a main heating measure.

My Department is looking at various options to reduce, and potentially remove, the need for some customers to contribute towards Warm Front measures.

Inland Waterways: Repairs and Maintenance

Charlotte Atkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in which year British Waterways expects to clear its backlog of statutory maintenance work and to comply with its statutory duties; and whether this date has changed as a result of reductions in grant-in-aid during 2006-07. [118280]

Barry Gardiner [holding answer 6 February 2007]: Substantial investment by Government has helped British Waterways eliminate its safety backlog and reduce its long-term maintenance arrears from £270 million (worth £398 million today) in 1996-97, to £97 million by end of March 2007.

British Waterways had anticipated spending around £31 million in 2006-07 on its maintenance arrears programme. However following a reduction in its budget, the outturn expenditure is likely to be around £26 million. Taken as a proportion of annual spend on statutory maintenance, this amounts to around two months expenditure. I will be discussing British Waterway's plans for management of its arrears in the context of the Comprehensive Spending Review.

Internal Drainage Boards

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what his Department’s policy is on the future of internal drainage boards; [118881]

(2) what assessment he has made of the likely effects of his Department’s report on the future workings of internal drainage boards. [118882]

Ian Pearson: The Government recognise Internal Drainage Boards (IDBs) perform a valuable role in water level management at a local level and we see this continuing into the future.

In August 2005, DEFRA engaged JBA Consulting to undertake an independent review of IDBs in England to assess how accountable, effective and efficient they are, so that they are ready to reflect modern approaches, including the portfolio approach to flood and coastal erosion risk management advocated in our making space for water strategy.

We hope shortly to publish an implementation plan setting out a range of actions, some of which reflect existing IDB good practice such as strengthened asset and environmental management. These should help IDBs to remain fit for purpose in the 21(st) Century.


Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 28 November 2006, Official Report, column
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490W, on landfill, how much funding was provided via central Government grants to local authorities to compensate for landfill tax in the last year for which figures are available. [119700]

Mr. Bradshaw: The main source of funding for local authorities’ waste management services is the Environmental, Protective and Cultural Services (EPCS) block of Government grant, distributed each year. The amount of grant awarded is based on a formula which takes into account each authority’s population, social structure and other characteristics. It is for each local authority to decide what proportion of the block to invest in waste management services. The Government actively encourage local authorities to promote recycling and other sustainable waste management practices, in order to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill and, therefore, cut harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2005-06, £220 million was allocated to local authorities in England for waste management projects, comprising £45 million from the Waste Minimisation and Recycling Fund, £40 million from the Waste Performance and Efficiency Grant, £130 million via private finance initiatives and £5 million through the Household Incentives Pilot Scheme. An additional £16.2 million was awarded to local authorities over the two year period 2004-06 via the Waste and Resources Action Programme for local communications.

Office of Fair Trading

Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will make a statement on his Department's response to the Office of Fair Trading's report “Commercial use of public information”. [112013]

Barry Gardiner: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Minister of State for Trade, Investment and Foreign Affairs (Mr. McCartney) on 8 January 2007, Official Report, column 315W.

Oil and Pipeline Agency

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the salary was of the Chief Executive of the Oil and Pipeline Agency (a) at its launch and (b) in May 1997; and what the salary will be of the new incumbent on taking up his post. [118749]

Mr. Ingram: I have been asked to reply.

At the launch of the Oil and Pipeline Agency in 1986 there was not a post of chief executive. The salary of the general manager was £34,430 plus £1,320 lunch allowance. In 1997 the salary of the general manager was £73,700 plus £1,060 lunch allowance.

The post of chief executive currently being advertised has a salary range of £100,000 to £120,000 plus a percentage bonus based on key deliverables and a lunch allowance of £1,320. A new incumbent has not yet been selected and his/her exact starting salary, including bonus, will depend on track record and experience.

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Pollution Control

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) how much his Department paid to the Centre for Sustainable Energy to commission research on individual carbon allowances; and what funding is planned; [119590]

(2) what plans he has for individual carbon limits for individuals; how he envisages such carbon limits would be enforced; and if he will make a statement; [119587]

(3) if he will place in the Library a copy of the feasibility study carried out by the Centre for Sustainable Energy for his Department into individual carbon allowances; [119591]

(4) if he will place in the Library a copy of the report on domestic tradable quotas submitted to the Climate Change Programme Review. [119598]

Ian Pearson: The Government are looking into the feasibility of tradable personal carbon allowances. This is just one of a number of potential long term options being explored for making individuals better informed about, and involved in, tackling climate change.

In August 2006, DEFRA provided funding of £5,422.50 (plus VAT) to the Centre for Sustainable Energy to undertake an initial scoping study into the concept of individual carbon trading.

This study concludes that a personal carbon allowance and trading system has the potential to achieve emissions savings in a fairer way than carbon taxes. The Government are now developing a work programme which should provide the information to lead to a decision on whether or not a personal carbon allowance is a realistic and workable policy option. Any future research funding will be considered as part of this work programme.

I have arranged for copies of the Centre for Sustainable Energy report, “A Rough Guide to Individual Carbon Trading: The ideas, the issues and the next steps”, and the December 2005, Tyndall Centre report, “Domestic Tradable Quotas: A policy instrument for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from energy use”, to be placed in the Libraries of the House.

Pollution Control: Local Authorities

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the cost of emissions trading to local authorities; and whether this cost will be funded under the New Burdens principle. [119579]

Ian Pearson: A full regulatory impact assessment would be carried out prior to any new mandatory emissions trading scheme being established. The Government look at all pressures on local government, and the extent to which they can be managed, when setting the overall level of funding for local authorities.


Alan Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment his Department has made of the long-term stability of the variety of the GM blight resistant potato approved for field trials. [118579]

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Ian Pearson: On the basis of advice from its Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment (ACRE), DEFRA has not required BASF, the applicant for the trials, to provide data on the long-term stability of these lines of GM blight resistant potato. This is because the stability of the GM potatoes does not pose any identifiable risk to the environment within the context of this research trial.


Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he is taking to ensure that all owners of poultry are registered, including those with a stock of 50 or less. [120516]

Mr. Bradshaw: As of 7 February 2007, the GB Poultry Register held details of 23,871 premises. A total of 257, 651,184 birds have been registered.

Owners of a commercial poultry premises with 50 or more birds are required by law to register their holding, even if the premises is only stocked with 50 or more birds for part of the year. DEFRA, and poultry keeping organisations, continue to remind such keepers that there is a requirement to register.

Although premises with fewer than 50 birds are not required by law to register, it is possible for owners of smaller flocks to register on a voluntary basis. My Department actively encourages them to do so through a number of routes including local animal health offices and various promotional materials.

Poultry: Disease Control

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the Government’s (a) immediate and (b) long-term plans are to improve biosecurity on poultry farms. [120501]

Mr. Bradshaw: All bird keepers, within the protection, surveillance and restricted zones have received information packs and texts reminding them to be vigilant for signs of disease and the need to house or isolate their birds to prevent contact with the wild bird population.

DEFRA has issued extensive guidance to bird keepers on biosecurity measures to protect their birds from avian influenza; this is also available on the DEFRA website. It is crucial that poultry keepers follow these measures. Poultry owners should plan how they will manage any free range birds if there is a need to isolate them from wild birds. Owners need to be vigilant and monitor their birds frequently.

DEFRA is running advertising campaigns in trade and specialist publications to raise awareness of biosecurity and avian influenza.

The epidemiological investigation into the source of infection in Suffolk is still ongoing. We will review the findings when they are available and make any necessary revisions to our biosecurity advice.

Recycling: Equipment

Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what action his
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Department is taking to promote the recycling of obsolete technological equipment. [119817]

Mr. Bradshaw: DEFRA is working closely with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) on the implementation of the EU Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive. From July this year, the directive makes producers financially responsible for the treatment and recycling of electronic equipment when it becomes waste. In particular, DEFRA has made the regulations transposing the treatment and permitting requirements of the directive, which are intended to improve the environmental performance of operators directly involved in the treatment of WEEE.

DEFRA has also worked with the DTI on the implementation of the EU RoHS (Restriction of the use of certain Hazardous Substances in electrical and electronic equipment) Directive. Since 1 July 2006, the RoHS regulations have restricted the use of six substances in the manufacture of electrical and electronic equipment, meaning that they will be easier to treat and recycle when they become waste.

Rural Areas

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many of the (a) recommendations and (b) targets in the 2000 Rural White Paper (i) have yet to be met and (ii) are no longer being pursued. [119575]

Barry Gardiner: “Our Countryside: The Future”, often referred to as the Rural White Paper, did not include a specific set of targets for the purposes of monitoring its delivery. Nor did it include a specific set of recommendations. We have, however, monitored progress against more than 260 separate commitments. Of these, 235 have been delivered, 19 have been overtaken by other developments and work on a further six remains to be completed.

Seals: EU Action

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the UK's policy is on the proposed ban on Canadian seal products currently before the EU. [117939]

Mr. Bradshaw: My right hon. Friend, Minister of State for Trade, Investment and Foreign Affairs (Mr. McCartney), made an announcement by ministerial statement on 8 February 2007, Official Report, column 43WS, on this issue.

Seas and Oceans: Environment Protection

Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he plans to publish a White Paper on the proposed Marine Bill. [120816]

Mr. Bradshaw: DEFRA plans to publish a white paper on the proposed Marine Bill in March 2007.

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Mr. Beith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what proportion of farms he estimates are likely to be included in the higher level stewardship scheme. [112247]

Barry Gardiner: We estimate that approximately 10 per cent. of agricultural land in England could enter the HLS scheme. HLS is targeted at high value nature sites such as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), and other areas which could benefit from a high level of bio-diversity management. By the end of January there were 1,151 agreements covering 79,225 hectares in the scheme.


Peter Bottomley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the number of whooper swans that settle in England each year; where they stay; whether any of the sites are potentially affected by road schemes; and if he will make a statement on the protections afforded to the swans. [119454]

Barry Gardiner: Whooper swan numbers in the United Kingdom are counted each year as part of the Wetland Bird Survey organised by the British Trust for Ornithology, Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. The latest counts, covering winter 2003-04, found a peak of 7,558 birds in January 2004. The wintering population in the UK has increased substantially during the past 20 years.

Using the most recent five year averages, three sites in England support internationally important numbers of whooper swans (210 birds or more) and five sites support nationally important numbers (57 birds or more). These are listed in the following table:

Internationally important sites Nationally important sites

Ouse washes, Cambridgeshire/Norfolk

Nene Washes, Cambridgeshire

Martin Mere and the Ribble Estuary, Lancashire

Caistron Quarry, Northumberland

The Solway Estuary, Cumbria

Lower Derwent Ings, North and East Yorkshire

Warkworth Lane Ponds, Northumberland

Lindisfarne, Northumberland

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