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Agri-environment schemes provide for good management of around 230,000 hectares of peat bogs . A progress review of environmental stewardship (ES)
is due to begin shortly. Increasing the contribution of ES to climate change mitigation, including the role of peat restoration, will be examined as part of this.
We are also working towards our current public service agreement target to ensure that 95 per cent. of the area in England designated as sites of special scientific interest is in favourable or recovering condition by 2010. A considerable proportion of peat bogs are designated as SSSIs and currently around two thirds of this area meets the target. Improving the condition of the remainder is a priority.
The England biodiversity strategy also contributes towards the protection of peat bogs, as does the UK air quality strategy which sets objectives to protect vegetation and ecosystems. The forthcoming soil strategy for England will draw together all these strands and DEFRA will consider, as part of this strategy, what further activity is required to protect existing carbon stocks.
Our long-term policy is to promote management which (i) minimises further losses of carbon from peat soils, and (ii) allows peat bogs to act as a carbon sink. The potential for significantly off-setting carbon emissions may be somewhat limited because of the time it takes for peat to form.
There are significant areas of peat bog in Scotland (which has over 70 per cent. of the UK peat resource), Wales and Northern Ireland. The devolved Administrations have policy responsibility in their territories, and DEFRA will continue to work closely with them.
Mr. Jamie Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will estimate the effect on the UK's carbon dioxide emissions if the existing nuclear generating fleet was replaced by (a) coal-powered fire stations and (b) gas- fired power stations. 
The full lifecycle release of carbon dioxide emissions from nuclear power is similar to wind power, and much less than fossil fuel plant such as coal and gas. The calculation of avoided carbon dioxide emissions if the existing nuclear generating fleet were replaced by (a) coal-powered fire stations is an increase of 44 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year and (b) gas- powered fire stations is an increase of 22 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.
Mr. Jamie Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) whether non-agricultural or environmental rural businesses will be able to access funding from the rural development programme for England; 
(2) how he expects the rural development programme for England (a) to help small rural and agricultural businesses to be more competitive and (b) to enhance employment and business opportunities in rural areas; 
Barry Gardiner: Rural businesses across all sectors will be able to access funding under Axes 1, 3 and 4 of the rural development programme for England. These provide support for measures to improve competitiveness, enhance the economy and improve quality of life in rural areas, and to implement community-lead regeneration activity.
We have set out in the draft rural development programme document, available on the DEFRA website, our key priorities for helping English rural and agricultural businesses to be more competitive and to enhance employment and business opportunities in rural areas. These include:
(i) promoting and encouraging greater collaboration and cooperation
(ii) improving agricultural and forestry industry uptake of technology and entrepreneurial skills
(iii) filling gaps in existing training and advice provision
(iv) promoting the adoption and dissemination of innovative business processes and practices
(v) supporting innovative rural-based business development and enterprise, including diversification and sustainable tourism
(vi) improving skills in the wider rural work force
(vii) tackling social disadvantage through steps to support fair access to services
(viii) supporting areas of economic underperformance and individuals experiencing disadvantage.
We have devolved responsibility for delivery of these priorities to the regional development agencies in England. The RDAs are currently working with partners to finalise the picture of the needs and priorities for their regions and sub-regional areas. Rural business people can contact their local RDA to discuss how any potential project meets the regional objectives of the programme.
Each of the RDAs has been operating an expressions of interest approach since October 2006, so that potential beneficiaries from rural development funding can discuss their ideas at the earliest possible stage. They will be making available further information about how to access funding when there is greater certainty about when the programme will begin, following approval by the EU Commission.
Barry Gardiner: The rural development programme for England 2007-13 will provide about £3.3 billion to land managers for agri-environment and other land management schemes. Around £2.9 billion of this will be used to fund Environmental Stewardship. The incentive for entering an Environmental Stewardship agreement depends on the complexity of the environmental management undertaken. The payment range extends from £30 per hectare to £700 per hectare in multi-annual agreements.
Mr. Jamie Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations his Department has received from the Lake District national planning authority on the rural development programme for England. 
Barry Gardiner: A wide range of stakeholders have been consulted on the development of the new programme. The English National Park Authorities Association responded to the consultation on the priorities for the next programme that we ran last year.
Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much was (a) spent on and (b) allocated to bonuses for staff in the Rural Payments Agency in the financial year (i) 2006-07, (ii) 2005-06 and (iii) 2004-05; what the (A) highest and (B) lowest bonus paid in each year was; and what percentage of the total sum in each year was related to staff who have responsibility for rural payments (1) in the north-west and (2) in Eddisbury constituency. 
|Bonuses paid in:|
In 2004-05 the RPA paid a flat rate non-consolidated bonus payment of £500 for staff with Exceeded box marks following the end of year individual performance review. This was pro-rated for part time staff. This arrangement was negotiated with the trade union side and implemented as part of the 2004 pay settlement.
In 2005-06 the RPA awarded a flat rate bonus of £550 to staff with Exceeded box marks. This was awarded in two parts. Part onea half step
progression in the pay scale. Part twothe remaining value of the bonus was paid as a non-consolidated lump sum up to the value of £550. This arrangement was negotiated with TUS and implemented as part of the 2005 pay settlement.
In 2006-07 the RPA awarded a flat rate non-consolidated bonus of £500 to staff with Exceeded box marks. This was pro-rated for part time staff. This arrangement was negotiated with TUS and implemented as part of the 2006 pay settlement.
Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the average price was of a pound of sugar produced (a) in the UK and (b) overseas in 2006; and what volume of sugar produced in the UK was exported in that year. 
From statistics on overseas trade the average price of exported sugar derived from the value and volume of exports of sugar(1) from sugar beet was 24.3 pence per kilogram in 2006. The average price of imported sugar derived from the value and volume of imports of sugar(1) was 40.1 pence per kilogram in 2006.
(1) Sugar is in various statesvolumes have been adjusted where necessary onto a refined basis
Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many staff in his Department have work objectives that make reference to composting; and what the pay band is of each staff member. 
Barry Gardiner: Please find in the table, the information held on the DEFRA e-HR system on how many staff in the department have work objectives that make reference to composting. Please note that this is not comprehensive (in particular it does not include staff in the Senior Civil Service, nor DEFRA agencies). To produce more comprehensive details would be at disproportionate cost.
|Pay band||Number of staff|
Mr. Jeremy Browne: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent estimate he has made of the number of vehicles he expects the new dual carriageway on the A358 between the M5 and the A303 to carry each day (a) on average and (b) at peak times of the year. 
(a) The estimate of traffic in the design year (2032) used for assessment purposes in the current option study on the new dual carriageway varies along the routes between 33,800 and 39,700 vehicles (low traffic growth forecast) and between 41,900 and 49,600 vehicles (high traffic growth forecast).
Mr. Jeremy Browne:
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the (a) timetable and (b) budget is for
the construction of the new dual carriageway on the A358 between the M5 and the A303. 
Dr. Ladyman: The Highways Agency is currently investigating options for the dualling of the A358 between the A303 and the M5 at Taunton. Neither a timetable nor budget have yet been approved for the implementation of this scheme.
Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) how much funding the British Transport police received from (a) his Department, (b) the rail industry, broken down by service provider, and (c) Transport for London in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) how much funding he expects the British Transport police to receive in 2007-08 from (a) his Department, (b) the rail industry, broken down by service provider, and (c) Transport for London; and if he will make a statement. 
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