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In 2002, the Government strengthened the priority order to include young people who were at risk of homelessness in England and encouraged local authorities to take positive steps to tackle youth homelessness.

In 2006, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government announced a commitment to end the use of bed and breakfast hotels for 16 and 17 years olds, except in emergencies, by 2010; establishing supported lodging schemes across the country; and a drive to improve access to mediation schemes.

House of Commons Commission

Child Care

Annette Brooke: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission what follow-up studies he has commissioned on the effectiveness and acceptability of the child care voucher scheme introduced two years ago for those working in the House; and if he will make a statement. [126558]

Nick Harvey: In 2003, following a feasibility study, it was decided to extend the child care voucher provision for House staff to Members’ staff. Provision of vouchers was thought to be the best solution to child care arrangements as it allows parents the choice of where best to have their children cared for. Take up of the scheme is currently 125 House staff and 55 Members’ staff. There has been no more recent study of the child care scheme.

The Members Estimate Committee is looking again at child care provision for Members.

Annette Brooke: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission what discussions the House authorities
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have had with Government offices located near to the House about possible joint provision of crèche facilities for visitors or workers. [126559]

Nick Harvey: Officials within the House Service are aware of the arrangements of some nearby Government offices. No discussions about a possible joint provision of crèche facilities have taken place.

Information gathered informally in December 2006 suggest that both FCO and MOD have workplace nurseries, but not crèches while other Departments buy nursery places for staff within nearby establishments.


Mr. Hollobone: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission what volume of paper waste was generated on the House of Commons estate in each of the last five years. [126465]

Nick Harvey: The volume of paper waste which has been generated on the House of Commons estate is not known, but the volume of paper waste which is collected separately from the general waste for the whole of the parliamentary estate and sent for recycling in each of the last five years is given as follows:


April 2002 to March 2003


April 2003 to March 2004


April 2004 to March 2005


April 2005 to March 2006


April 2006 to December 2006


The recording of the paper waste started in April 2002 and it is not possible to determine the volume of paper waste collected on the House of Commons part only of the parliamentary estate.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Agriculture: Subsidies

Mr. Walter: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what fine the European Commission has imposed on the Government due to its failure to pay the 2005 single farm payments; and from which resources payment of the fine will be drawn. [126036]

Ian Pearson: To date, the European Commission has not proposed any financial corrections for the administration of the 2005 Single Payment Scheme. Should any proposals be made, the Government will continue to defend the UK’s interests.

Air Pollution: Aviation

Martin Horwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department is taking to encourage reductions in non-carbon dioxide greenhouse gas emissions from air travel. [124074]

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Ian Pearson [holding answer 6 March 2007]: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates the total impact of aviation on climate change to be 2-4 times that of its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions alone. The Government have consistently called for both the CO2 and non-CO2 impacts of aviation to be addressed to the extent that is possible. For an international industry, an international trading scheme is the best solution and we are therefore pursuing this in the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). However, we recognise that the need for consensus among the participating states in ICAO means progress will take time, and until a truly global solution can be found, including aviation CO2 emissions in the EU emissions trading scheme ETS represents the best multilateral option available.

We welcome the European Commission's proposal, published in December 2006, for legislation to include aviation in the EU ETS. The Government agrees that non-CO2 effects of aviation would be best dealt with by a separate, tailored instrument and looks forward to the Commission's proposal to address nitrous oxide (NOX) emissions by the end of 2008. We will continue to work with the Commission and other member states during negotiation of the directive.

The Government have also invested £5 million in the opportunities for meeting the environmental challenge of growth in aviation (OMEGA) project. This will foster knowledge transfer from academic research centres to industry and help the aviation sector respond to the sustainability challenge. We welcome the industry's sustainable aviation strategy as the start of an ongoing process and look forward to deepening and strengthening of targets.

Biofuels: Production

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department is taking to ensure that the Government's five per cent. biofuel target is met by domestic production; and what percentage of bio-fuel production is from domestic supply. [125563]

Ian Pearson: The Government are incentivising the production and use of biofuels through a 20 pence per litre duty rate cut for biodiesel and bioethanol which has been extended to 2008-09. This has led to a growth in the sales of biofuel, with a total of around 30 million litres of biofuels sold a month in 2006. This represents a market share of over 0.5 per cent. of road fuel for 2006, compared to 0.24 per cent. in 2005.

At present, the UK produces biofuels from recycled waste vegetable oil and animal fats. However, a number of companies are either building, or planning to build, biofuel processing plants which will use UK-grown crops (such as oilseed rape, sugar beet and wheat) as a feedstock. A new plant in Scotland will produce 50 million litres of biodiesel a year from animal fats and used cooking oil. A new plant on Teesside will produce up to 250 million litres of biodiesel a year from oilseed rape and other vegetable oils. A plant is being built in Norfolk that will produce biofuels from sugar beet and other feedstocks, and various other plants are at the planning stage.

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The Home-Grown Cereals Authority and the Renewable Energy Association have recently held a series of regional biofuel workshops across England aimed at helping to develop a UK biofuels industry. The workshops covered Government policy, local activities and opportunities for farmers.

Farmers can also grow biofuel crops on set-aside land, or claim the €45 per hectare EU energy aid payment in respect of crops grown on non set-aside land, and still claim the EU Single Payment. The development of second generation biofuels should offer opportunities in the future to use feedstocks such as grasses and woody biomass.

Carbon Emissions

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the Community Energy programme in reducing carbon emissions; and if he will make a statement. [124642]

Ian Pearson: By 2010, the Community Energy programme will have delivered an estimated saving of 28,000 tonnes of carbon (tC) each year against a programme target of 150,000 tC.

The 2006 climate change programme review involved a wide-ranging appraisal of the effectiveness of existing climate change policies. We concluded that other programmes deliver carbon savings in a more cost-effective way, compared with the Community Energy programme. The scheme will run until March 2007 for completion of approved schemes, but it is now closed for new applications.

Energy: Conservation

Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what publicly-funded programmes are available to help install energy efficiency measures in households that are not connected to the (a) main gas supply and (b) electricity grid; and if he will make a statement. [125255]

Ian Pearson: The Government's Warm Front scheme provides heating and energy efficiency measures to vulnerable households in England, including those not on the gas network and/or the electricity grid.

The Department of Trade and Industry's Design and Demonstration Unit, in partnership with the Regional Development Agencies in North-East England and Yorkshire and the Number, has begun a demonstration programme to assist deprived communities in both regions. This programme is intended to deliver a variety of assistance, including energy efficiency measures to 4,000 homes in 40 communities, currently off the gas network.

Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many households not connected to the mains supply were helped with energy efficiency measures through (a) Warm Front and (b) other schemes in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement. [125256]

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Ian Pearson: The data are not available to establish precisely how many households have been helped by Warm Front that are not connected to the mains gas supply. However, since June 2005, 93,687 households that do not have gas as their main source of heating have been assisted with a range of energy efficiency and heating measures.

In addition, 2,600 households received a gas supply funded by Warm Front that enabled them to benefit from the installation of either gas wall heaters or a gas fired central heating system.

Energy: Orders and Regulations

Tony Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the (a) one-off and (b) recurring cost of implementing the Electricity and Gas (Energy Efficiency Obligations) Order 2001 to (i) businesses and (ii) the regulators. [125617]

Ian Pearson: The Department's “Assessment of Energy Efficiency Commitment 2002-05 Carbon, Energy and Cost Savings” (March 2006), estimated the costs to energy suppliers of meeting their energy efficiency obligations at around £360 million or about £3.20 per customer per fuel per year.

We do not anticipate that there are any recurring costs for energy suppliers (other than complying with subsequent obligations). This delivered energy-saving measures to customers with overall cost-effectiveness of about £300 per tonne of carbon saved. On average, the costs will be more than outweighed by the benefits to householders in terms of reduced fuel bills or increased comfort from the installation of energy efficiency measures. The regulator, Ofgem, estimated its administrative costs for the three year programme at £1 million.

Environmental: Employment

Mr. Francois: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) whether his Department has plans to publish proposals on environmental technology and their employment potential; [125709]

(2) what estimate he has made of the number of jobs that could be created in the environmental technology sector over the next five years; [125711]

(3) what estimate he has made of the total number of jobs that could be created from the environmental technology sector over the next five years. [125767]

Ian Pearson: The UK environmental goods and services industry is strong, well established and diverse, employing approximately 400,000 people in around 17,000 companies, with an estimated annual turnover of £25 billion. A recent joint DTI/DEFRA report estimates that this turnover will increase to more than £34 billion by 2010 and £46 billion by 2015. This is available on the DTI website at:

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A Commission on environmental markets and economic performance was established in November last year and will publish its report in the spring. It will make recommendations on how the UK can make the most of the opportunity that environmental protection can present for wealth creation and employment growth. The Commission is jointly-chaired by the Secretaries of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Trade and Industry, and its membership is drawn from business, NGOs, academia, trade unions and public sector organisations.

Flood Control: Eastbourne

Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what contingency plans have been drawn up in the event of flooding in Eastbourne. [125474]

Ian Pearson: DEFRA has lead responsibility for national preparedness for flooding in England and is working, as part of the Cabinet Office-led Capabilities Programme, to build the capability of all key players. Regionally, the lead planning role falls to the Government Offices working with the Environment Agency (EA), local authorities and emergency services. The EA’s role involves the forecasting and warning of potential flooding from rivers and the sea, and the police will lead the response during an actual emergency.

I understand that Eastbourne is at risk from both rivers and the sea, although coastal flooding poses the greatest threat. In 1996, an inter-agency Coastal Flood Evacuation plan was drawn up to deal with the threat of flooding to the vulnerable coastline at Pevensey Bay, Normans Bay and Eastbourne, covering approximately 15,000 properties.

Lessons learned from an evacuation of Pevensey in 1999 led to production of the Pevensey Bay Flood Plan in 2000 which covers the areas of Normans Bay, Westham, Langney and parts of Eastbourne. The plan outlines inter-agency responsibilities, activation and notification processes for evacuation and also the means of providing support and advice for the community, especially more vulnerable members.

All category one responders, as defined by the Civil Contingencies Act, contributed to the Plan, in particular the EA, East Sussex county council and Eastbourne borough council. The Plan is reviewed and exercised every three years with lessons learned (for example, flooding incidents in 1999 and 2000) incorporated as they arise. It also covers river flooding from Langney Haven and can be applied to surface water flooding caused by intense storms, such as those which affected the Eastbourne Arndale shopping centre on 7 August 2006.

Groundwater Regulations 1998

Tony Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the (a) one-off and (b) recurring costs of implementing the Groundwater Regulations 1998 to (i) businesses and (ii) the regulators. [125592]

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Ian Pearson: A compliance cost assessment, carried out before the groundwater regulations were introduced, estimated that the recurring cost per annum for a typical farmer disposing of used sheep dip to land would be in the range of £124.50 to £871.50. The assessment also estimated the non-recurring cost to be £711.50 to £1,528.50. In practice, the costs have been much lower—the typical annual cost is currently £137.92 and the typical one-off cost is £113. The cost to the Environment Agency of authorising discharges under the regulations is approximately £1.33 million per annum which is funded by charges to authorisation holders. No costs are available for the more general pollution prevention activity required under the regulations.

The regulations have helped to raise awareness of the importance of protecting groundwater and have introduced controls over activities most likely to pollute it.

DEFRA is committed to regulating better and has a target of a 25 per cent. reduction in administrative burdens. The implementation of a more risk-based approach to regulation, in conjunction with tougher penalties combined with improved effectiveness via focus on outcomes and simplification where possible, is fully consistent with this.

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