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Written Answers to Questions

Tuesday 1 May 2007

Church Commissioners

Marriage: Licensing

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners how much of the £2,148,860 gained in fee income from issuing the Archbishop’s Special Licence for marriages has been received by the Church Commissioners. [135142]

Sir Stuart Bell: None.

Leader of the House

Departments: Disciplinary Proceedings

David Simpson: To ask the Leader of the House how many grievance procedures have been initiated in his Office in the last 12 months. [135159]

Mr. Straw: None.

Departments: Sexual Harassment

David Simpson: To ask the Leader of the House how many complaints of sexual harassment have been investigated in his Office in the last 12 months; and how many complaints have been upheld. [135376]

Mr. Straw: None.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Air Pollution: Kirby

Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether there were any (a) incidents involving and (b) prosecutions in which proceedings are not ongoing relating to harmful emissions at the Sonae factory in Kirby in each of the last four years. [134534]

Mr. Bradshaw: Knowsley borough council is responsible for regulating emissions to the atmosphere from this factory under Part I of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the Pollution Prevention and Control Regulations 2000.

The council advises that the number of incidents (both complaints and reported incidents) and prosecutions relating to this factory in the last four years are as follows:

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Complaints Reported incidents Prosecutions

















The subject of complaints against Sonae include odour, dust, smoke, fumes, and noise from the Kirby factory. Knowsley borough council advises that a small proportion of the complaints were subsequently found to be unconnected with Sonae. The company has also challenged an unspecified number of complaints.

The number of incidents shown in the table reflects the formal reports which Sonae has submitted. In accordance with their authorisation requirement, Sonae is required to report incidents likely to have an effect on the community. The three prosecutions in 2004 concerned a failure to monitor emissions, failure to comply with an enforcement notice, and failure to comply with an information notice. In total, these resulted in £13,000 worth of fines.

Factories such as this have the potential to emit various substances including oxides of sulphur and nitrogen, particulate matter, lead, volatile organic compounds, isocyanates, and aldehydes.

Avian Influenza: Disease Control

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the testing of live poultry for avian influenza in the protection and surveillance zones in Suffolk referred to in his Department’s submission to the European Commission on 5 March was completed before permission was granted to reopen the Bernard Matthews plant in Suffolk; what type of live poultry was tested; what the location was of each of the premises that were tested; and how many birds were tested in each. [134493]

Mr. Bradshaw: During the outbreak, the State Veterinary Service (SVS, now Animal Health) carried out extensive surveillance in the restricted areas working closely with local authorities in Suffolk and Norfolk and other agencies. A full breakdown of the type and numbers of poultry tested along with a map of their locations can be found on pages 16 and 17 of the final epidemiology report into the outbreak we published on 19 April. Copies are available in the Library of the House.

This testing of live poultry within the protection and surveillance zones was completed by 26 February. The Bernard Matthews slaughterhouse plant in Holton was re-opened on 12 February. However, this was a separate premises from the site of the outbreak (although adjacent to it) and was placed under appropriate restrictions only while it was used to cull the birds. The meat processing plant which was also adjacent to the infected premises was never placed under restrictions. Once culling was completed, it was re-licensed to operate only after being thoroughly cleansed and disinfected and inspected by the SVS and Meat Hygiene Service so that it could not pose any disease risk to either poultry or humans.

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Members: Correspondence

Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he expects to reply to the letter of 2 October 2006 from the hon. Member for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk on the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005. [135396]

Mr. Bradshaw: The hon. Member’s letter was transferred to the Scottish Executive Environment and Rural Affairs Department as it concerns a devolved issue.

Packaging: Waste Disposal

Mrs. James: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what work he is undertaking with (a) food processing companies, (b) supermarkets and (c) confectionery manufacturers to reduce packaging waste. [134178]

Mr. Bradshaw: We have already introduced two sets of regulations to encourage producers (including retailers) to minimise, recycle and recover packaging and reduce packaging waste.

The Packaging Regulations have helped to reduce the amount of packaging used around products. However, more still needs to be done to reduce the amount of packaging and packaging waste being generated in the first place. We have asked the Advisory Committee on Packaging to work with industry to find solutions to this problem and recommend ways of encouraging businesses to further reduce the amount of packaging they use.

My Department continues to engage with retailers and the food industry to reduce the amount of food and packaging waste generated by the industry itself and by consumers.

In particular, DEFRA’s Food Industry Sustainability Strategy (FISS), published in April 2006, challenges the food manufacturing sector to reduce its own waste by 15-20 per cent. by 2010. 13 major grocery retailers (representing 92 per cent. of the UK grocery sector) have also signed up to the “Courtauld Commitment”, agreeing to work with the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) in order to:

Each retailer signed up to the Commitment has been developing its own programme of work with WRAP to reduce packaging and packaging waste. A number of retailers have now announced their own specific performance targets on waste and other environmental issues.

In addition, several food and drink brands and manufacturers, including some confectionary manufacturers, have now signed up to the Courtauld Commitment. WRAP will shortly be announcing further details.

WRAP also provides technical and financial support to retailers and suppliers through an innovation fund. This is helping to identify ways of reducing the weight
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of primary packaging and the cost of production and transportation, mainly through research and development and innovative packaging design.

Importantly, DEFRA, working with WRAP and the devolved administrations, has recently secured the agreement of UK retailers to reduce the overall environmental impact of their carrier bags by 25 per cent. by the end of 2008.

Rabies: Disease Control

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans he has to change the existing arrangements for the control of rabies. [134342]

Mr. Bradshaw: DEFRA is currently carrying out a review of rabies import policy to ensure that UK controls on all rabies-susceptible mammals are proportionate and sustainable.

The review is nearing completion. The evidence received so far from government vets, officials and veterinary risk assessments indicates that our current controls may no longer be proportionate to the risk of rabies entering the UK. Therefore, we may need to consider modernising processes and regulation in this area. Our controls must also be consistent with current thinking on better regulation. I have requested further views before reaching conclusions.


Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps are being taken to ensure that back-up pumps are available in circumstances where primary sewage pumps fail and effluent is discharged into rivers, watercourses or the open sea; and if he will make a statement. [134077]

Ian Pearson: Under the Water Resources Act 1991, the Environment Agency requires all sewage pumping stations to have duty pumps and standby pumps that are capable of pumping the received flow in the event of a pump failure. This is a condition of consent to discharge, and it is the sewerage undertaker’s responsibility to ensure that their pumps are fully operational at all times.


Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many households in England were subject to water restrictions in 2006. [134494]

Ian Pearson: During 2006, about 16 million people were subject to restrictions on water use. In most cases, this involved hosepipe bans. However, a single drought order, allowing restrictions to be placed on non-essential uses of water, was partially implemented by Sutton and East Surrey Water.

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Aviation: Exhaust Emissions

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the potential effects on health of emissions from aircraft. [134129]

Gillian Merron: Airport operators are expected to undertake appropriate health impact assessments when bringing forward any expansion plans. “Air Quality Assessments Supporting the Government's White Paper” was published alongside “The Future of Air Transport” in December 2003; this covers Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Birmingham airports. The document is on the internet at http://www.dft.gov.uk/about/strategy/whitepapers/air/docs/airqualityassessmentssupport5665.

Future levels of ambient air quality are being studied as part of the Project for the Sustainable Development of Heathrow. The Air Quality Technical Report, published in July 2006 found that the key pollutants are nitrogen dioxide (NO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and particulate matter (PM10), for which there are EU limit values aimed at reducing harmful effects on human health and the environment as a whole.

Bicycles: Accidents

Mr. Scott: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many (a) male and (b) female cyclists were killed in accidents involving heavy goods vehicles in the last three years for which figures are available. [135309]

Dr. Ladyman: The number of (a) male and (b) female pedal cyclists that have been killed in reported personal injury road accidents involving at least one heavy goods vehicles in each of the last three years for which figures are available is given in the table.

Male and female pedal cycle fatalities resulting from reported personal injury road accidents involving at least one heavy goods vehicle, GB 2003-05
2003 2004 2005









Galileo Project

Mr. Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what his estimate is of the cost of the Galileo project. [133774]

Dr. Ladyman: In its Communication to the Council and Parliament of February 2004, which set out the components of the Galileo programme, the European Commission evaluated the costs of the current development and deployment stage as €3.2 billion. Subsequently, Vice-President Barrot stated in December 2006 that the overall financial exposure for the public side over the 20-year period of the public private partnership (PPP) concession contract would be around €8 billion.

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Given the lack of progress in the concession contract negotiations, the March 2007 Transport Council has asked the Commission to consider alternative scenarios for taking the project forward. As with the PPP these alternative scenarios will be assessed for cost, risk and affordability.

Once the Council has taken a decision on these scenarios it is expected that the Commission will then bring forward a draft EC financial instrument on the funding of Galileo during 2007-13 for the Council and the European Parliament to ratify. There has been no political discussion of potential funding commitments for the public sector beyond 2013.

Park and Ride Schemes

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what (a) financial and (b) other support is offered to local authorities who wish to establish park and ride schemes; and if he will make a statement. [134647]

Gillian Merron: Most schemes are funded through the integrated transport block, which the Department allocates to support local transport plans (LTPs). The funding is for local authorities to invest in transport capital works, including park and ride, according to their local plans and priorities. It totals £571 million for 2007-08.

During the first LTP period (2001-06), local transport authorities in England (outside of London) spent a total of £72.5 million of LTP funding on improving 92 existing park and ride facilities and delivering 76 new park and ride schemes. In recognition of this, the Department gave credit in its assessment of delivery of the first local transport plans to those authorities that delivered substantial increases in park and ride facilities.

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