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28 Mar 2007 : Column 1576W—continued

The data contained in this table is a snap-shot. As such, it will be subject to future change as Natural England finalises HLS processing. This particularly applies to the February 2007 agreements. There are still a number of cases to be finalised between applicants and Natural England, and figures will change accordingly.

Mrs. Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 28 February 2007, Official Report, column 1325W, on the Environmental Stewardship Scheme, how many higher level stewardship scheme applications approved in 2006 were received prior to 1 February 2006. [128536]

Barry Gardiner: Regrettably, I have to advise that I am unable to provide a figure which shows precisely the number of applications approved in 2006 that were received prior to 1 February 2006. This is because the IT system necessary to record such data was not fully in place for the period referred to. In order to now provide this data would necessitate a large-scale manual exercise which would be of disproportionate cost.

Farms: Pupils

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent representations he has received on the role of school visits to farms in educating children. [124984]

Jim Knight: I have been asked to reply.

The Department has not received any recent representations on the importance of school visits to farms for educating children. However, through our Growing Schools programme, we work very closely with organisations that promote children’s understanding of food and agriculture, either through visits to farms or through growing within the school grounds.

We support Access to Farms, a national partnership that encourages school visits to farms, and part funded it to develop training and accreditation for farmers who host school visits. We also support and part-fund the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens, which publicises farms and gardens to schools and manages a network of more than 60 school farms. We are working closely with DEFRA on the forthcoming Year of Food and Farming, and will publicise it to schools though the Growing Schools programme.

Gyrodactylus Salaris

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what measures he is taking to keep rivers safe from Gyrodactylus salaris; and if he will make a statement; [128905]

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(2) what his contingency plans are for dealing with an outbreak of Gyrodactylus salaris; what risk assessment he has made of Gyrodactylus salaris entering into the UK; and if he will make a statement. [128906]

Mr. Bradshaw: Gyrodactylus salaris (Gs) is a parasite that has the potential to cause widespread losses in both wild and farmed Atlantic salmon. The disease Gyrodactylosis, caused by the parasite, is subject to the notification requirements and control arrangements of the Diseases of Fish Act 1937 (as amended).

The UK is free of Gs and we are doing all we can to ensure that remains the case. In March 2004, following intensive discussion in the EU, we succeeded in re-negotiating robust additional fish health guarantees to safeguard against the introduction of Gs through trade in live fish (Commission Decision 2004/453). The guarantees, in effect, allow movement of live fish of susceptible species only from areas that are considered free of the parasite.

The revised additional guarantees were agreed only after they had been scrutinised by leading UK fish health scientists and assessed by them as posing a negligible risk of introducing Gs into the UK. Subsequently, the EU Permanent Advisory Network for Disease in Aquaculture, made up of international fish health scientists, also considered the measures and came to the same conclusion.

DEFRA has contingency plans in place which have been drafted in close consultation with the Environment Agency, the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science and other interested parties. In the event of identification of Gs in either farmed or wild freshwater fish stocks, the objective would be to contain and, if possible, eradicate the parasite. Officials are also in regular contact with their counterparts in other Departments and the devolved Administrations about contingency planning.

My Department has also carried out publicity campaigns to raise awareness among the general public (especially those involved in angling) about the dangers of introducing Gs and other diseases through travel to and from high-risk areas. A further campaign is being considered for the near future. Advice on how to keep Gs out of the country is contained in our “Keep Fish Diseases Out” series of guidance leaflets.


Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the Countryside Alliance on the operation of the hunting legislation. [127571]

Barry Gardiner: The Secretary of State has not had any recent discussions with the Countryside Alliance about the Hunting Act 2004.

International Whaling Commission: Poland

Anne Main: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has had with the Polish Foreign Minister on Poland's possible membership of the International Whaling Commission; and if he will make a statement. [129541]

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Mr. Bradshaw: The Secretary of State and the Foreign Secretary have recently jointly written to Poland and 11 other EU and accession states encouraging them to join the International Whaling Commission (IWC).

In support of the UK's position, I raised the issue of IWC membership at a recent meeting of EU Environment Ministers in Luxembourg. I also sent copies of our recent publication ‘Protecting Whales—A Global Responsibility’ to 57 countries, including Poland, 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. This is particularly important as we approach the next IWC meeting, to be held in Anchorage, Alaska in May.

Litter: Fixed Penalties

Mr. Jeremy Browne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many people were issued with a fixed penalty by local authorities as a result of (a) dropping litter and (b) permitting dog fouling in each of the last five years. [129921]

Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 27 March 2007]: The number of fixed penalty notices (FPNs) issued by local authorities in England in each of the last five years for litter and dog fouling offences is shown in the following table.

April to March each year FPNs issued for litter offences FPNs issued for dog fouling offences
















Plastics: Recycling

Mr. Rogerson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has had with European Union environment ministers on ways in which recycling for low density polyethylene (Type 4), Polypropylene (Type 5), Polystyrene (Type 6) and other (Type 7) plastics can be advanced. [129350]

Mr. Bradshaw: I have regular discussions with European Union environment ministers on a range of issues, but none have been held specifically on this issue.

However, the Government are taking action to both support the reduction of plastic packaging in the waste stream and encourage the recycling of plastics more generally. The Waste and Resources Action programme (WRAP) is also working to create stable markets for a range of recycled materials, including plastics. In 2003, WRAP commissioned Enviros Consulting Ltd to
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undertake a study of the markets, applications and growth opportunities for recycled plastics in the UK.

For example, expanded polystyrene can readily be used for insulation in housing and other types of plastics can be recycled into lower grade plastics and used in construction or packaging.

WRAP's targets for 2004-06 are to work with the plastics industry to increase the acceptance of recycled plastic throughout the supply chain, to deliver an additional 20,000 tonnes of domestic plastic bottle recycling capacity, and to ensure that an additional 11,000 tonnes of non-bottle plastics are recycled.

A common use of low density polyethylene is in the production of carrier bags. DEFRA is working closely with the devolved administrations, WRAP, the Scottish Waste Awareness Group and businesses to both promote reusable bags and reduce the number of plastic bags entering the waste stream.

In addition, the packaging regulations set targets for recovery and recycling of packaging waste to be met by obligated businesses each year to enable the UK to meet the targets in the EU Packaging Directive. This requires the UK to recycle 22.5 per cent. of the plastic packaging waste entering the UK waste stream by 2008. Currently, around 20 per cent. of plastic packaging waste is recycled in the UK.

Mr. Rogerson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many local authorities in England offer facilities for recycling (a) low density polyethylene (Type 4), (b) polypropylene (Type 5), (c) polystyrene (Type 6) and (d) other (Type 7) plastics. [129351]

Mr. Bradshaw: Data from the 2006 Waste and Resources Action programme/Recoup UK plastic bottle recycling survey indicate that 86 per cent of local authorities (LAs) already offer some form of collection facilities for plastic bottles.

LAs normally collect plastics by application and not by polymer type. They may, for example, request types of bottles and trays for recycling, instead of distinguishing between different types of plastic. Data are not, therefore, collected on the different types of plastic collected by individual LAs.

Regional Development Agencies

Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what funding each regional development agency received from (a) rural development programmes and (b) other programmes run by his Department in each of the last five years; and how much each agency spent on policy areas which are his Department's responsibility in each year. [127396]

Barry Gardiner: DEFRA is one of five departments which fund regional development agencies (RDAs) through a single programme budget (the "single pot"). This funding gives RDAs the ability to address regional priorities, while at the same time contributing to the delivery of national public service agreement targets—including DEFRA’s public service agreement targets on sustainable development, rural productivity and access
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to services, and sustainable farming and food. Funding is allocated using a funding formula.

DEFRA funding to the RDAs since 2002-03 is as follows:

£ million
DEFRA contribution to RDA single pot BREW( 1)













(1) Funding for RDA regional co-ordination of the business resource efficiency and waste programme

The significant increase in the DEFRA contribution to the single pot from 2005-06 is the result of the transfer of additional funding from the Countryside Agency for rural socio-economic activities (£21 million per annum), a commitment made in rural strategy 2004.

How each RDA utilises its single pot allocation will vary according to regional need. Details of RDA priorities and planned spending can be found in individual RDA corporate plans, (approved by Government), with six-monthly reports on performance, setting out what has been achieved. These documents can be found on each RDA website.

Responsibility for the delivery of the socio-economic measures of the Rural Development Programme for England (and legacy of the earlier England Rural Development Programme) was passed to the RDAs on 1 October 2006. This implemented another of the commitments from the rural strategy 2004. The level of funding for the new programme has yet to be finalised but RDAs will have access to a minimum of £40 million per annum over the period 2007-13.

The move to devolve funding to the regions through RDAs is part of the Government's devolving decision-making agenda. RDAs, working in partnership, will decide how to spend their resources to meet national targets and address regional needs. However, DEFRA is confident that by devolving these responsibilities to the RDAs and having increased the resources it makes available to them, rural delivery will become more responsive to local priorities and better focused on areas and people who need it most.

Waste Disposal: Greater London

Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans there are to dispose of London's residual waste to landfill sites outside London. [129695]

Mr. Bradshaw: The Mayor of London is making strong efforts to reduce London's reliance on landfill outside its boundaries. The Mayor's spatial development strategy envisages London becoming 85 per cent. self-sufficient with regard to waste management by 2020.

The London boroughs, which are the waste planning authorities, are required to draw up plans which are in general conformity with the Mayor's spatial development strategy. The Government have proposed a strengthening of the Mayor's planning powers, which
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is intended to increase his ability to ensure that appropriate development takes place.

Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much of London's waste was disposed of at Newton Longville landfill site in the last 12 months; and how much he estimates will be disposed of at the site in each of the next 10 years. [129696]

Mr. Bradshaw: The Environment Agency holds records of waste arising in London disposed of at the Newton Longville landfill site. Their data, which is based on operator returns, shows that 17,724.41 tonnes of London's waste were disposed of at the site in 2006.

The Environment Agency does not hold, or have access to, data on future disposal rates and waste origins for this site. This is a commercial matter between the landfill operator, The Waste Recycling Group, and any London boroughs that have contracts with the operator.

White Fish: Conservation

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) for what reasons he did not proceed with his plans to increase the minimum landing size of bass to 40cm from 6 April; [129060]

(2) what evidence he expects to consider before fulfilling his commitment to increase to minimum landing size for bass; [129061]

(3) what studies his Department has carried out on the effect on discards of increasing the minimum landing size of bass to 40 cm; and if he will make a statement. [129074]

Mr. Bradshaw: I listened carefully to the concerns expressed by the National Federation of Fisherman's Organisations (NFFO) at a meeting on 14 March. It presented a number of issues relating to the impact it said the measures would have on both the stocks of bass and the livelihoods of bass fishermen, and asked me to reconsider my decision.

The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) has recently conducted a study on the levels of bass discards from trawlers and the relative impact of an increase in the minimum landing size for bass. I will assess the implications of this report, the points raised by the NFFO and any new evidence before considering whether, and on what date, legislation will come into force.

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