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Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions his Department has had with the Food Standards Agency on the decision not to proceed with legal proceedings against Bernard Matthews in relation to the outbreak of H5N1 at the Holton Plant; what was discussed; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bradshaw: DEFRA has regular discussions with the Food Standards Agency on a range of issues. However, the decision whether or not to prosecute Bernard Matthews was solely a matter for the FSA to investigate and its legal services to advise on. The FSA has carefully scrutinised and considered the evidence in this case and concluded there is insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction.
Ian Pearson: Monitoring of coastal bathing waters is carried out in accordance with the requirements of the 1976 European Bathing Water Directive. The parameters to be monitored are listed in the annex of the directive, which can be found on the DEFRA website.
Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the effect on the migrating British bird population of the hunting and shooting policies of EU member states. 
Barry Gardiner: There have been no recent assessments of the effects of hunting and shooting policies in EU member states on populations of migratory birds in Britain. Outside of Britain, assigning bird mortality to different causes is not currently possible because of a lack of data.
Populations of UK farmland birds are about 60 per cent. of their 1970 level but have remained fairly stable since the early 1990s. The farmland bird index for England, which is used to measure progress against DEFRAs Public Service Agreement target, gives a similar picture, suggesting that the decline in farmland bird populations has now been halted but not reversed.
Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what discussions he has had with other EU states on their policies affecting the population of migrating birds; 
(2) what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on negotiations with EU member states on policies which affect the migration of birds across Europe. 
Barry Gardiner: Council Directive 79/409/EEC on the Conservation of Wild Birds (the Birds Directive) provides a common framework for the conservation of naturally occurring species of wild birds and their habitats throughout the European Union.
Discussions on policies which affect the populations of migratory birds across Europe are usually held with other European member states at ORNIS Committee meetings (the Committee for the adaptation to technical and scientific progress of the Birds Directive). The ORNIS Committee consists of officials from each European member state. My Department is the lead for the UK Government for matters pertaining to the Birds Directive and it carries out a wide range of discussions with other Government Departments and devolved Administrations on relevant issues.
The European Commission, in cooperation with member states, has produced a number of Community Management Plans for huntable species considered to have an unfavourable conservation status. The plans typically aim to address the most urgent issues to halt the decline of populations in the EU. The goal of the plans is to restore species back to favourable conservation status. It is the responsibility of the relevant authorities in each member state to put into effect the activities listed in the plan.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of carbon dioxide emissions were attributable to (a) electricity generation, (b) domestic aviation, (c) international aviation and (d) road transport in (i) 1990, (ii) 2005 and (iii) 2006. 
Ian Pearson: The percentage contributions of electricity generation, domestic aviation, and road transport to UK carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 1990 and 2005 (the latest year for which figures are available) are shown in the following table. Under internationally agreed rules for reporting to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, emissions from international aviation are recorded as memorandum items in the national greenhouse gas inventories, but are not included in the national totals.
|CO 2 emissions as a percentage of UK total|
|Public electricity and heat production||Domestic aviation||Road transport|
Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what plans he has to raise the issue of (a) the treatment of the UK under the Common Fisheries Policy and (b) compliance with fishing quotas by other nations at the next Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) what information he has received from the European Commission on (a) levels of over-fishing of bluefin tuna by French vessels and (b) the penalties imposed on France by the European Commission in respect of such over-fishing; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bradshaw: We understand that the level of bluefin tuna over-fishing declared by France in 2005 was 2,572 tons (an over-fish of 38 per cent.). Figures for 2006 catches have yet to be finalised, however current data shows over-fishing of 1,836 tons (27 per cent.). At present, no penalties have been proposed by the Commission.
The Government share the concerns that the hon. Member is raising. It would be inconsistent for the European Commission to apply the rules on payback to the UK for its declared over-fishing of mackerel and herring, but not to do so on the over-fishing of bluefin tuna declared by France.
I raised this issue at the Agricultural and Fisheries Council on 18 April. It will be raised again at the next Fisheries Council Meeting in May. I have also written to the Fisheries Commissioner explaining my dissatisfaction with the approach being taken. We await a response from the Commission.
Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the European Commission on UK fishing rights; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The European Commission published a paper in February 2007 looking at how member states allocate and manage access and rights to fishery resources. An Explanatory Memorandum on this topic has been considered by the European Scrutiny committee, and the UK Government will be taking an active role in this discussion as it progresses.
The issues addressed are already being considered as part of the UKs Quota Management Change Programme. Public consultation on this topic is planned for later in the year. Further discussions on the European Commissions paper will also be informed by the findings of the Programme.
Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of projects funded by the Darwin Initiative Fund in Latin America. 
Barry Gardiner: Since the launch of the Darwin Initiative in 1992, around 100 projects have been funded in Latin America. All of these projects were required to submit an annual report for each year of the project, and a final report upon completion. These reports are all assessed by independent expert reviewers to ensure that the projects are (and have been) effective in implementing what they set out to do.
We have also conducted five Mid-Term Reviews in Latin America. These involve an expert reviewer visiting projects to carry out an in-depth review. The review process serves to highlight areas where the projects could improve, as well as examples of good practice that could be used to help other current and future Darwin Initiative projects.
In December 2005, we conducted an evaluation of four closed Darwin Initiative projects in Peru. The
report confirmed that the overall legacy and sustainability impacts from all the projects could be clearly demonstrated.
In December 2006, we conducted an evaluation of five closed Darwin Initiative projects in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador. This review showed that all the projects met their original objectives and achieved positive outcomes and impacts. In particular success was achieved in three key areas; investing in people, mutual learning and technology transfer, networking and long-term relationship development.
Mr. Jamie Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations he has received on the creation of a Department of Energy and the Environment; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Estimates of stocks of sea bass in each of the last 10 years are not available. However, scientific advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea suggests that the bass stock appears to be fished sustainably. A recent study assessing bass stocks in British coastal waters by the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science suggests that the biomass of the adult population has approximately doubled between 1995 and 2004. This is supported by catches in the UK fishery, which have increased from 1,234 to 2,211 tonnes over the same period.
Current European Union legislation protects sea bass by specifying a minimum landing size (MLS) of 36 centimetres (cm). Below this size, bass cannot be landed and corresponding mesh sizes must be used for both fixed and trawl gear when bass is targeted. Some Sea Fisheries Committees (SFCs) have introduced a higher MLS of 37.5 cm which applies within the relevant district. The UK has also designated 37 specified areas in which bass fishing from a boat is prohibited. DEFRA is also currently considering the introduction in England of an increased MLS of 40 cm.
The Marine and Fisheries Agency, SFCs and, in some estuaries, the Environment Agency enforce EU and national regulations on bass. Clear infringements of the regulations are taken very seriously and prosecuted under law. All inspections are recorded and offences logged, and this information is used in prioritising future inspections.
Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much was spent on (a) hard engineering flood defences and (b) soft engineering flood defences as a percentage of total flood defence spending in each of the last 10 years. 
Ian Pearson: The Environment Agency does not differentiate between soft and hard engineering in assessing expenditure. The agency uses the most appropriate environmentally acceptable, financially viable and technically feasible solutions based on the conditions at the specific location.
Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of soft engineering methods for flood management; and if he will make a statement. 
Ian Pearson: The Government encourage the flood risk management operating authorities, primarily the Environment Agency (EA), to consider various options when considering solutions to flood risk and to work with natural processes wherever possible. The optimum solution for a particular location will depend on the individual circumstances, for example, the use of beaches to absorb wave energy is a widely used soft technique.
DEFRA is participating in a pan-European research programme under which seven international consortia of researchers are investigating the effectiveness of various non-structural approaches to flood risk as part of the CRUE Eranet research co-ordination programme. These projects will report in 2008.
The EA has carried out a great deal of work on the effectiveness of soft engineering methods, especially on the key issue of sustainability. Beaches are dynamic and will respond naturally to changing conditions, including sea level rise, whereas a hard sea wall is a rigid structure which can often accelerate problems including erosion over a period of time. In addition to their sea defence function, soft engineering solutions will also often provide amenity, landscape and nature conservation benefits.
Mr. Bradshaw: Farming any animal solely or primarily for its fur was banned in England and Wales by the Fur Farming (Prohibition) Act 2000. There are no longer any registered fur farmers operating in the UK.
Additionally, in response to public concerns about the trade in cat and dog fur, the European Commission (EC) has proposed a new regulation to ban trade in
these products. There have been working group meetings to discuss the EC's proposal, which Germany has chaired as current EU presidency.
Ian Pearson: DEFRA has clarified the background to this decision with the Dutch authorities. In the light of this, and our own analysis, we are clear that the Dutch court ruling does not have direct bearing on the decision we have already made to approve a GM potato trial in Cambridgeshire. We are also confident that it does not have a bearing on the decision we are due to take on a proposed trial site in east Yorkshire as part of the same research programme. We are confident that appropriate risk assessment procedures are being followed in relation to the trials in England, consistent with the specific requirements of our legislation.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will make a statement on the progress of (a) Estimating transmission parameters of Gyrodactylus: a key requirement for contingency planning and (b) Development of a risk evaluation system for the establishment of Gyrodactylus salaris in English and Welsh river systems research projects. 
Mr. Bradshaw: DEFRA is funding work on (a) and (b) through projects already under way at the University of Stirling and through work being carried out by scientists at the Cefas Laboratory in Weymouth. Good progress is being made on both projects. Work to construct a database characterising river sites throughout England and Wales (carried out in close co-operation with the Environment Agency) is well advanced. To date, information has been compiled on fish populations from over 8,000 sites, data on water quality from 120,000 sites and data on gyrodactylids from 350 sites. The next phase, beginning shortly, will be to develop a risk evaluation system for the establishment of Gyrodactylus salaris (Gs) based on data of high risk sites including sites with the potential to spread disease to wild populations.
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