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Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he plans to take to enable those in receipt of environmentally sensitive area payments and countryside stewardship to transfer to the higher level scheme of the single farm payment. 
Delivery of these schemes is the responsibility of Natural England. The Higher Level Scheme is a targeted scheme designed for those high value habitats which require complex management which can deliver significant environmental outcomes. Within a national framework, the targeting is defined at a regional level through 159 Joint Character Areas. Each area has priority targets for the management of features in that local area.
During the last year of their existing agreements, holders are contacted by Natural England, in relation to the options available. The Higher Level Scheme is a competitive scheme and not all existing ESA and CS agreements will be suitable for the scheme. For some, the Entry Level Scheme may be more appropriate.
Our planned review of progress of Environmental Stewardship this year will include the transfer of expiring agreements into Environmental Stewardship to ensure that the environmental investment made over the last 20 years of agri-environment schemes is not lost.
Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the total budget was for agricultural support in England in each year since 2001; and what the administrative costs were of distributing it. 
The following table shows the Rural Payment Agencys (RPA) net administration cost and
scheme expenditure from 2001-02 through to 2005-06, as reflected in RPAs annual report and accounts.
|Net administrative cost||Expenditure|
The administrative costs are for the RPA in total and include costs of activities such as livestock tracing, the RPA change programme and support services such as finance and human resources which are not currently attributed to specific RPA activities.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what support he plans to offer the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in order to implement the operation of prosecutions for animal cruelty and offences under the new animal welfare legislation. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) has not approached my Department seeking support in relation to the conducting of prosecutions under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. In giving evidence to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee, the RSPCA estimated that the Act would lead to about an extra 100 prosecutions a year, for which they were confident they would find the necessary resources.
DEFRA fully recognises the importance of the RSPCAs contribution to animal welfare and welcomes their positive engagement in the implementation of the Act. As part of this engagement, RSPCA officers attended the recent series of training events run by DEFRA on the changes to the law that would be brought about by the Act.
Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has had with the European Commission on visits by (a) its staff and (b) the European Food Safety Agency staff to Hungary in relation to the on-going inquiry into the outbreak of avian influenza at Holton; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Throughout the outbreak of avian influenza in Holton, DEFRA liaised closely with Hungary at EU committees and through informal discussions in Brussels. Formal trilateral discussions between Hungarian officials, the European Commission and DEFRA officials began on 15 February and continued throughout the outbreak, feeding into the epidemiological investigation.
Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many members of staff from (a) his Department, (b) his Departments non-departmental public bodies and (c) the Food Standards Agency have visited Hungary in relation to the ongoing inquiry into the outbreak of avian influenza at Holton; what plans he has to send further staff to Hungary; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Two DEFRA epidemiologists visited Hungary as part of the National Emergency Epidemiology Groups investigation into the outbreak of avian influenza in Suffolk. This followed initial discussions and exchanges of information and data with Hungarian colleagues.
Charlotte Atkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many businesses have contacted British Waterways to inform them that their businesses are under threat as a result of reductions in services by British Waterways. 
Barry Gardiner [holding answer 3 May 2007]: British Waterways does not hold a record of businesses that have contacted it on this specific matter. Such issues may be raised at local and regional stakeholder meetings which waterway businesses attend.
Mr. Nicholas Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the impact of carbon emissions limiting measures in force in England and Wales. 
Ian Pearson: The impact of carbon emissions reduction policies and measures were evaluated as part of the review of the UK Climate Change Programme. The main findings were published in a synthesis report Synthesis of Climate Change Policy Evaluations in April 2006. Copies are available in the Libraries of the House.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will bring forward proposals for legislation prohibiting the keeping of cetaceans in captivity other than in cases which involve short-term rehabilitation with a view to a release back to the wild of injured cetaceans; and if he will make a statement. 
There are currently no cetaceans being kept in captivity in the UK, and other than for purposes of rehabilitation, there have not been any kept since the early 1990s. While it is not illegal to keep
cetaceans in this country, the Zoo Licensing Act 1981 (as amended) aims to ensure that, should cetaceans be kept at an establishment for exhibition to the public, the establishment is licensed and the animals kept in accordance with strict standards relating to their health and welfare requirements. Those standards are set out in the Secretary of States Standards of Modern Zoo Practice and its supplement on the keeping of cetaceans in captivity. In addition to the requirements of the Zoo Licensing Act, all animals kept in captivity are subject to protection under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
Mr. Bradshaw: The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) is providing technical and financial support to retailers to help identify ways of reducing the weight of primary packaging, mainly through research and development and innovative packaging design. WRAP is also conducting research to establish public attitudes towards Easter egg, and other confectionery, packaging.
There are already examples of some supermarkets that have successfully minimised the packaging on their own brand Easter eggs while still increasing sales. My Department will continue to engage with retailers and the food industry to reduce the amount of packaging waste generated by the industry itself and by consumers.
The requirements of the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 2003 (as amended) apply to all packaging and a system already exists to fine businesses for using excess packaging.
The Essential Requirements Regulations require that all packaging placed on the market in the UK should be manufactured so that volume and weight are limited to the minimum adequate amount to maintain necessary levels of safety, hygiene and consumer acceptance for the packed product. These regulations are enforced by Trading Standards officers and a number of companies have already been prosecuted for using excess packaging.
The Packaging Regulations have led to decreases in packaging used around products. However, more still needs to be done to reduce the amount of packaging and packaging waste generated. 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.
WRAP is currently working with retailers through the Courtauld Commitment, a voluntary agreement which aims to halt packaging growth by 2008 and make absolute reductions in packaging waste by 2010. 13 major retailers, representing 92 per cent. of the UK grocery sector, have already signed the agreement as well as three major brands.
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 made announcements setting their own specific performance targets on waste and other environmental issues.
Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he is taking to prevent further erosion of the cliff top at Barton-on-Sea; and if he will make a statement. 
Ian Pearson: DEFRA has been funding a study, being carried out by New Forest district council, into options for managing coastal erosion risk along the cliff top at Barton-on-Sea. Completion of the study, and any works which might arise from it, are a matter for the council. Such works may be eligible for grant aid from DEFRA subject to meeting national eligibility and prioritisation criteria.
Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the effect of dredging at sea on coastlines suffering from erosion; and if he will make a statement. 
Ian Pearson: Marine minerals dredging in English waters is carefully controlled through the Environmental Impact Assessment and Natural Habitats (Extraction of Minerals by Marine Dredging) (England and Northern Ireland) Regulations 2007 which came into force on 1 May 2007 and, prior to this, by the informal "Government View" consenting procedures. Marine minerals dredging proposals are subject to environmental impact assessment and must be accompanied by an environmental statement and coastal impact study. They will only be approved if the Secretary of State is satisfied that there will be no significant harm to the marine environment and no harm to the coastline.
Other forms of dredging are also regulated, and any potentially negative impacts on the coastline are fully considered under the Harbour Works (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 1999 as amended by the Harbour Works (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Amendment) Regulations 2000.
Modelling and field studies on the impact of both individual offshore dredging licences and of the cumulative impacts of such licences have concluded that UK offshore dredging has not contributed to coastal erosion. There may be a potential impact on the coastline in relation to estuary and near-shore dredging for navigation purposes. However, in these cases, there is a clear need to balance economic and social imperatives of continued port operations with any environmental impact.
Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many holdings with dairy cows in England and Wales there were in each of the last 10 years, broken down by county. 
Barry Gardiner: The following table shows the number of registered holdings in England with dairy cows from 2002 to 2006 by county/unitary authority. These are the figures which were most readily available. Figures for Wales fall under the jurisdiction of the devolved authority.
|Holdings in England with dairy cows by county/unitary authority|
|(1) Suppressed to prevent disclosure of information about individual holdings. Notes: 1. Dairy cows are cows and heifers in the dairy herd which have calved. 2. Estimates have been made for holdings not responding or not selected for the survey. 3. Data for 2002, 2003 and 2005 are compiled from a large published datasets; these are treated each year to ensure confidentiality across every geographical level from country to ward hence the differing pattern of suppression in those years. Source: June Agricultural Survey.|
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