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Fisheries: EC Law

Derek Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the impact of EU Council regulation 41/2006, on thornback ray, on the fishing industry in Kent and Essex. [126916]

Mr. Bradshaw: I am aware of the concerns among this sector of the industry about the effects of this piece of EC legislation on their viability. We are urgently exploring with them options to adapt and respond to the new obligations.

Food: Procurement

Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions he has held with other Ministers on the sourcing of publicly procured food; and what proportion of such food was of British origin in 2006. [123634]

Barry Gardiner: My right hon. friend the Secretary of State, together with ministerial colleagues at DfES and DOH spoke at the conference—Food and Farming: Reconnecting a New Generation, on 29 November. The conference promoted sustainable sourcing of food throughout the public sector under the Public Sector Food Procurement Initiative; promoted opportunities for farmers and producers to supply public sector contracts; and launched the Year of Food and Farming—an industry-wide initiative supported by DEFRA, DfES and DOH. Other Government agencies are contributing to the initiative which also involves subject associations, teacher associations, key food, farming and countryside sector bodies, together with businesses working in the food, farming and countryside sectors.

The Department does not hold information on the proportion of publicly procured food of British origin in 2006. The Department is commissioning a MORI survey of local education authorities in England and is also working with its statisticians, key public sector procurers, the NFU, other trade bodies and the major food service companies to produce this information which it will place in the Library of the House when it is available.

Forestry: Subsidies

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will advance the payment of support to those landowners who use their land for forestry for the purposes of developing carbon sinks. [124466]

Barry Gardiner: Climate change mitigation is just one of the many benefits of tree planting. The principal objectives of the woodland creation, supported by the Forestry Commission's English Woodland Grant Scheme, are environmental and social.

The Forestry Commission has already contractually committed most of its woodland creation grants budget for payment in the 2007-08 financial year. There are no plans to offer any new contracts for woodland
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creation grants until the Rural Development Programme for England 2007-13 has been approved by the EU Commission.

Greyhounds: Waste Disposal

Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions has he had with (a) the Environment Agency and (b) other authorities on the exhumation of the bodies of greyhounds killed at Seaham, County Durham. [126464]

Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 9 March 2007]: DEFRA Ministers have not held discussions with the Environment Agency or other authorities specifically on this matter. However, my officials have monitored progress and briefed Ministers accordingly.

Home Energy Efficiency Scheme

Dr. Tony Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what compensation or redress is available to those who have received unsatisfactory service under the Warm Front scheme; [125080]

(2) how many contractors have been removed from the Warm Front scheme by Eaga Partnership because of unsatisfactory performance; [125087]

3) what sanctions are applied by Eaga Partnership when contractors carry out unsatisfactory work as part of the Warm Front scheme. [125088]

Ian Pearson: The Scheme Manager, the Eaga Partnership, continually monitor and audit contractors appointed to work under the Warm Front Scheme. It has introduced vendor-rating systems against which contractors are assessed.

The vendor rating system provides an assessment of contractors using various criteria including (but not limited to) customer service, professionalism and workmanship. The vendor rating of each contractor determines the level of work they receive in the future.

Contractors who irrevocably fall short of these standards can be removed from the Warm Front Scheme. However, no contractors have been removed to date under the second phase of Warm Front.

If a Warm Front customer feels that they have received unsatisfactory service from the scheme they can in the first instance complain to the Eaga Customer Complaints Team. Should they not be satisfied with the response they can pursue matters with the Defra Fuel Poverty Team, Defra Service Standards Complaints Adjudicator Unit, Defra Ministers or The Parliamentary Ombudsman.

With regards to possible redress/compensation, this will depend on the specifics of each case.

Meat: Origin Marking

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what estimate he has made of the percentage of imported
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foreign meat that was subsequently labelled as being British in each of the last three years; and if he will make a statement; [125182]

(2) what steps he is taking to prevent imported foreign meat being labelled as British. [125183]

Barry Gardiner: Where meat has been subject to substantial processing, it is permissible to describe as its origin the country where that change took place. If the absence of information might mislead consumers, then Guidance on Country of Origin Labelling and Clear Food Labelling produced by the Food Standards Agency suggests that both the origin of the meat and the country where the processing takes place should be declared in order to facilitate informed consumer choice. More restrictive rules apply to beef and poultry meat that has not been processed.

Ultimately, the use of misleading labelling, including information on the country of origin, is governed by the Trade Descriptions Act 1968 and the Food Safety Act 1990. The Food Standards Agency is currently revising its Guidance, and my Department is closely involved with this.


Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he has taken to protect the UK milk production sector from European competition. [125225]

Barry Gardiner: If the UK milk production sector is to remain competitive it must become more efficient and market-focused. In England, the Government are helping it to do so through a range of measures, including:

Defra has also awarded grants of over £1.3 million under the Agriculture Development Scheme to projects that aim help the dairy sector become more efficient. We understand that a strategic action plan for the dairy industry in Wales has been developed to encourage effective measures that will stimulate innovation and product development.

Rights of Way

Paddy Tipping: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he expects to consult on regulations under sections 54 and 56 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 on the extinguishment of public rights of way at the cut-off date. [124670]

Barry Gardiner: I expect the Department to issue a consultation paper on these regulations by September 2007.

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River Thames: Environment Protection

Adam Afriyie: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will take steps to ensure that the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area (SPA) Delivery Plan prevents irreversible damage to the SPA and the habitat of the woodlark, nightjar and Dartford warbler. [124445]

Barry Gardiner [holding answer 5 March 2007]: The Government office for the South East continues to work in partnership with Communities and Local Government, Defra, Natural England and the South East England Regional Assembly to develop a strategic approach to the required housing delivery around the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area, whilst ensuring that the site is appropriately protected from future impacts in accordance with the habitats directive.

The draft Thames Basin Heaths Delivery Plan is currently being considered as part of the Examination in Public (EiP) of the South East Regional Spatial Strategy. The assessor appointed to examine this draft Delivery Plan published his report to the EiP Panel on 19 February 2007. This report will be debated further on 22 March 2007 at an EiP session.


Alison Seabeck: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what length in miles of unadopted sewers there is in each region of England. [125533]

Ian Pearson: The most recent Ofwat estimates of private, unadopted, pipework outside the property curtilage, in England, by water and sewerage company area, are set out in the following table:

Water and sewerage company Length of unadopted sewers (kilometre)



United Utilities




Severn Trent




South West








Single Farm Payments: East Sussex

Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many farmers in (a) Eastbourne and (b) East Sussex have not received a single farm payment for 2006. [125473]

Barry Gardiner: As of 28 February 2007 a total of 88,842 customers have received either a full or partial 2006 Single Payment Scheme payment, representing 81.5 per cent. of the estimated total claimant population of 109,000.

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The total value of 2006 payments is £965.53 million, 62.8 per cent. of the estimated total fund of £1.54 billion.

These figures include 2,577 partial payments (including Euro payments) and 2,298 full payments which were made in the last week, as well as over 3,300 top-up payments which were made to customers who previously received a partial payment.

Detailed analysis of the payments made under the Single Payment Scheme is not yet available.

Sugar Beet: Biofuels

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department is taking to help sugar beet farmers diversify their markets to use their crop for fuel production. [125561]

Barry Gardiner: Following the reform of the sugar regime, farmers can grow sugar beet on set-aside land for bioethanol use and can claim the European Union’s €45 per hectare Energy Aid payment for sugar beet on non set-aside land.

The Government are promoting the production of bioethanol through a 20p per litre duty rate cut. To further develop the supply of biofuels, a Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation will be introduced to require 5 per cent. of fuel sold in the UK to come from a renewable source by 2010.

We are aware that British Sugar are building a biofuel processing plant in Norfolk that will use sugar beet as one of the feedstocks.

Wood: Burma

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps are being taken by his Department to reduce imports of timber from Burma (a) to the UK and (b) to the EU. [122611]

Barry Gardiner: The UK supports the EU's Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) action plan which envisages voluntary partnership agreements with individual countries to promote trade in legally produced timber. Burma is not a FLEGT partner country and its timber exports are therefore not promoted under this scheme. In the UK, the Government maintains a long-standing policy of discouraging British companies from trading with Burma.


A50: Road Traffic

Mr. McLoughlin: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the last five noise level readings were for the A50 Doveridge bypass; and when each was taken. [126099]

Dr. Ladyman: Noise level readings are not routinely taken for trunk roads and none have been taken for the A50 Doveridge bypass.

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Departments: Disclosure of Information

Susan Kramer: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make available to the participants the minutes of the meeting held on 13 November 2006 between himself, the hon. Member for Richmond Park, Mrs. Eileen Dallaglio and others. [125220]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: Following the undertaking that I gave at the meeting on 13 November 2006, copies of the Minutes have been placed in the Libraries of the House.

Departments: Security

Graham Stringer: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many current passes to his Department have been allocated to employees of private companies. [126761]

Gillian Merron: The Department has 4,711 valid passes issued to contractors and consultants providing services to its headquarters and agency premises.

Level Crossings: Accidents

Mr. Fraser: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many accidents occurred at railway level crossings in each of the last five years; and how many of those were due to (a) signal failure and (b) (i) pedestrians and (ii) vehicles on the line. [126469]

Mr. Tom Harris: Statistics on accidents at level crossings and their causes are given in the annual reports on railway safety, now produced by the Office of Rail Regulation and previously by the Health and Safety Executive. Copies are available in the House Library.

The Rail Safety and Standards Board have estimated that 96 per cent. of the risk at level crossings is due to the behaviour of crossing users.

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