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Whooper swans are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981), and are listed in Annexe 1 of the EC wild birds directive (the birds directive) which requires that special measures are taken to conserve their habitats. Seven sites in England have been designated as special protection areas under the birds directive for their wintering whooper swan populations.
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what guidance
the Audit Commission has published since 1997 on municipal waste collection. 
Mr. Bradshaw: I am not aware of any specific guidance published on municipal waste collection by the Audit Commission. However, the Audit Commission has published a number of guidance documents containing advice to local councils on how they can meet their statutory requirements with regards to waste by improving their waste management and adopting best practice. The Audit Commission also examines the performance of councils and the services they provide, including waste, through the Comprehensive Performance Assessment, and provides recommendations for improvement.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what guidance (a) his Department and its agencies and (b) the Waste Resources Action Programme have provided to local authorities on the use of CCTV to monitor (i) recycling and (ii) municipal waste disposal. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Local authorities are responsible for planning and monitoring their closed circuit television (CCTV) systems and there has been no guidance issued by DEFRA to encourage their use at municipal waste facilities or to monitor recycling.
In one of their published guidance documents, Management of green waste at civic amenity sites: a good practice guide, the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) referred to CCTV as one of a number of approaches available to local authorities to improve security at civic amenity sites. This was particularly in relation to monitoring potential trade waste abuse and fly-tipping at sites. WRAP does not, however, make any specific recommendation regarding its use and has not provided any specific guidance on the installation and use of CCTV by local authorities in relation to recycling and municipal waste disposal.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) whether a Regulatory Impact Assessment has been published for the implementation of EU Directive 2006/012/EC; 
Mr. Bradshaw: As it had been amended a number of times since its original adoption, the European Commission decided to clarify the Waste Framework Directive (WFD) by drawing up a codification of its provisions. A measure of this kind is known in the UK as the consolidation of legislation. Directive 75/442/EEC (as amended) was therefore repealed with effect from 17 May 2006 and the WFDs provisions are now contained in Directive 2006/12/EC.
The codification of the WFD as Directive 2006/12/EC did not change existing EU legislation, so a Regulatory Impact Assessment was not required. The codification also has no implications for municipal waste collection and disposal.
On 21 December 2005, the European Commission published its Waste Thematic Strategy and proposals to revise the WFD. I made a written ministerial statement on 12 October 2006, Official Report, column 34WS, announcing the publication of a UK-wide consultation, including a Partial Regulatory Impact Assessment, on the proposed revision of the WFD. Copies of the consultation paper were placed in the Libraries of the House and on the DEFRA website. The consultation closed on 5 January 2007. Responses are now being considered and will be taken into account in the ongoing negotiations.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) whether his Department maintains a list of councils which have moved to alternate weekly collection of rubbish; 
Mr. Bradshaw: The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) is aware of a number of local authorities (LAs) providing alternate weekly collection of household waste and provides support and guidance to these LAs on best practice in operating such a service.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research his Department has undertaken on the relative contribution of (a) the recycling process and (b) landfill to climate change emissions. 
Mr. Bradshaw: A study published in May 2006 by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), on the environmental benefits of recycling, estimated that recycling certain key materials saves between 10 million to 15 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents per year, compared to applying the current mix of landfill and incineration with energy recovery. This is the equivalent of taking around 3.5 million cars off UK roads for one year.
Another recent study carried out for DEFRA, to be published shortly, examined the lifecycle carbon impacts of principal waste streams. This is providing further information on the relative contributions of various waste management processes to climate change emissions. It is also informing the Government's revised Waste Strategy, which we intend to publish in the spring.
Recycling and composting biodegradable waste that would otherwise go to landfill also helps reduce landfill methane emissions, which account for 3 per cent. of the UK's total greenhouse gas emissions and is 20 times
more potent than CO2. The recycling of all materials saves energy, including through the reduced need for raw material extraction.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 4 December 2006, Official Report, column 57W, on water bills, what the average domestic water bill including sewerage in England and Wales was in actual prices in each year since 1996-97. 
The following table sets out the average household bills for water and sewerage customers in England and Wales since 1996-97 in prices of the day. Inflation between 1996-97 and 2006-07 was 29 per cent. The increase in average household bills was 33 per cent. including inflation over this period.
|Average household bills for water and sewerage in prices of the day|
Bills for 2005-06 and 2006-07 are estimates based on provisional and forecast data respectively provided by each company, for the year ending 31 March.
Ian Pearson: Ofwat is the economic regulator for water and sewerage services in England and Wales and sets price limits for each water company at price reviews. The following table sets out average household bills for water and sewerage in each year since 1997 in real terms and the percentage change in real terms. Figures are in 2006-07 prices.
|Average household bills in 2006-07 prices (£)||Percentage change|
Ian Pearson: Audits and inspections of water companies in England and Wales, and enforcement action to ensure compliance with the Water Quality Regulationsincluding investigation of customer complaints and incidents which affect drinking water suppliesis dealt with by the Drinking Water Inspectorate. The inspectorate was formed in 1990 to provide independent reassurance that public water supplies in England and Wales are safe and drinking water quality is acceptable to consumers.
Water companies have a duty to collect and test samples for each of the substances and organisms in the regulations, and must make the results of this testing available to their customers. The inspectorates role is to carry out independent checks to ensure that this testing is being performed to a high standard of quality control.
The original EU drinking water standards were implemented in England and Wales in 1989. Compliance is measured by results of tests on samples from consumers taps. Compliance figures for each year from 1992 to 2003 are in the following table.
Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will take steps to ensure that changes in the available budget of his Department and its associated public bodies do not adversely affect watercourse drainage and maintenance, especially in high value agricultural areas. 
Ian Pearson: DEFRA has overall policy responsibility for flood risk management in England, funds most of the Environment Agency (EA)s flood related work and grant aids individual capital improvement projects undertaken by local authorities and internal drainage boards. The programme to manage risk is driven by these operating authorities. DEFRA does not carry out works, nor direct the authorities on which specific projects to undertake.
The only budget reduction for flood risk management has been the reduction in the DEFRA-funded EA resource budget for 2006-07 from £238 million to £223 million. The EA capital budget (which delivers new and improved defences and flood warning systems) of £190 million was not affected, nor were the capital budgets for the other authorities.
The EA has maintained investment levels in 2006-07 in non-recurring maintenancewhich improves the condition of defencesbut has had to reduce the scale of routine maintenance in some regions. I understand the EA has managed the impact of the reduction so as to minimise the impact on flood risks.
The EAs allocation of DEFRA grant in aid for flood risk management in 2007-08 will be £435.7 million. This is an increase compared to the 2006-07 original allocation and more than restores the in-year reduction in 2006-07.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has had with representatives of other Governments on whaling since the last meeting of the International Whaling Commission; when he next plans to discuss whaling with foreign counterparts; and with whom. 
In support of the UK's position I also raised the issue of IWC membership at a recent meeting of EU Environment Ministers in Luxembourg and sent copies of our recent publication Protecting WhalesA Global Responsibility to 57 countries, both anti and pro-whaling, encouraging them to join the effort to protect these species.
DEFRA officials also ensure that Foreign and Commonwealth Office posts in the relevant capitals are briefed, and engage in discussion with their counterparts on whaling at every appropriate opportunity. This ensures that these countries are in no doubt of the importance that the UK attaches to whale conservation.
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