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Martin Horwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what incentives his Department has given local authorities to reduce their waste arisings; and what penalties they will face if they fail to do so; 
Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 14 June 2007]: Action to reduce the amount of waste produced in the first instance is driven by regional and local strategies and supported by nationally funded programmes.
The amount of waste collected from households per head is measured under local authority (LA) best value performance indicator (BVPI) 84a. BVPIs have statutory performance targets and are monitored by the Audit Commission. As a standardised suite of performance indicators, BVPIs help central Government and the public to monitor, analyse and compare the achievements of LAs.
The Waste Minimisation Programme, run by the DEFRA-funded Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), is working to stem the growth of household waste. This is part of a package of measures
to enable the UK to meet the requirements of the Landfill Directive and move towards sustainable waste management.
As part of its Waste Minimisation Programme, WRAP is working with 13 major retailers to reduce the amount of waste from supermarkets. This includes looking at ways to redesign packaging, as well as providing support for research and development into waste minimisation. It is also working with LAs to establish greater participation in recycling and home composting. This is achieved by WRAP through a variety of means, for example through LA advice and training; food waste collection trials with selected authorities; funding support for campaigns to boost recycling participation in local areas; and a targeted National Home Composting Programme.
LAs have also received £45 million in 2005-06, £105 million in 2006-07 and £110 million in 2007-08 under the Waste Performance and Efficiency Grant to help them develop new and more efficient ways to deliver waste reduction and increase recycling.
The recently published Waste Strategy 2007 puts forward a range of measures to further reduce waste arisings and build on recent improvements in recycling. A greater focus on waste prevention has been recognised through a new target to reduce the amount of household waste not reused, recycled or composted, from over 22.2 million tonnes in 2000 by 29 per cent. to 15.8 million tonnes in 2010, with an aspiration to reduce it to 12.2 million tonnes in 2020a reduction of 45 per cent. This is equivalent to a fall of 50 per cent. per person (from 450 kilograms per person in 2000 to 225 kilograms in 2020). The strategy also sets higher national targets for household waste recycling and composting to reach at least 40 per cent. by 2010, 45 per cent. by 2015 and 50 per cent. by 2020.
There are no specific penalties to encourage LAs to reduce their collected waste volumes. The Landfill Allowances Trading Scheme (LATS) places limits on the amount of biodegradable municipal waste that authorities can landfill. LAs that exceed limits are liable to a penalty of £150 per tonne. Minimising municipal waste arisings helps LAs meet their LATS obligations and so avoid incurring penalties.
Mrs. Dorries: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what measures have been put in place to ensure that green waste in Bedfordshire is (a) processed and (b) recycled to required standards; and if he will make a statement; 
The Government strongly supports the composting of organic waste. This is an important component of meeting targets for recycling and
composting, as well as those under the landfill directive to reduce the landfilling of biodegradable municipal waste.
Composting of green waste is classified as a waste recovery operation under the waste framework directive and is carried out under a waste management license issued by the Environment Agency (EA) or a registered exemption from the need for a license. The EA is the competent authority responsible for carrying out regular inspections on such sites, including those in Bedfordshire, to assess compliance with the license conditions.
Sites operating under a waste management licence must recover or dispose of waste without causing harm to human health or pollution of the environment. This includes causing a nuisance through noise or odour.
The EU Animal By-Products Regulation also applies to the composting of some materials. The regulation permits low-risk animal by-products (Category 3 material) to be composted or treated in an approved composting or biogas plant and treated to an EU standard. Alternative treatment standards are due to be introduced later this year. However, these must demonstrate the capability to meet a specified level of pathogen reduction.
In addition, the DEFRA funded Business Resource Efficiency and Waste programme (BREW), the Waste and Resources Action programme (WRAP) and the EA have developed a quality protocol for compost in consultation with industry and other interested parties. The protocol sets criteria for, and allows, the full recovery, production and use of quality compost from waste organic materials without the need for further regulation beyond the point of production.
Mr. Walker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many permanent abstraction licences have been amended to make them time-limited since the Water Act 2003 was introduced; and how many of those amendments were taken voluntarily. 
Ian Pearson: Six abstraction licences have had time limited status since regulations were introduced in April 2006. These covered apportionment (splitting) of permanent abstraction licences that change hands.
However, this is a problem which requires EU-wide action and we will therefore be working with the
Commission (and other member states) to ensure their latest initiative is fully effective in delivering appropriate solutions throughout the community.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research his Department or its agencies are conducting into (a) water rates and (b) unmetered water charging. 
Ian Pearson: The Government commissioned and published research into alternative methods of water charging, both measured and unmeasured, in their review of water charging in 1998-99. We are currently updating this research, looking at the distributional impacts of a range of measured and unmeasured tariffs, and will report later this year.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the co-operation and information sharing by the Regional Planning Bodies with statutory bodies to determine the extent and location of new water infrastructure required in England. 
In developing their regional spatial strategies, the regional planning bodies are required to consult with water undertakers in helping to develop the broad development strategy for the next 20 years, including the provision of infrastructure and management policies governing future distribution of regionally or sub-regionally significant activities and development within the region.
The draft RSS is then publicly consulted on and independently examined in public. This process allows issues to be highlighted for further scrutiny and any underlying evidence to be tested for robustnessincluding any matters relating to water infrastructure and provision.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what studies his Department has undertaken on the capacity of water resources to meet plans for increased housing numbers, with particular reference to the south-east of England. 
Ian Pearson: DEFRA worked very closely with the Department of Communities and Local Government (CLG) throughout 2005, to analyse the environmental impacts of the increased levels of housing supply proposed in Kate Barkers review of housing supply. This work led to the publication of the Entec Report: A sustainability impact study of additional housing scenarios in England, in December 2005. The comprehensive package of environmental measures announced as part of the Governments response to the Barker review was informed by this analysis. Close inter-departmental liaison is ongoing.
My Department has been involved in the appraisal of the New Growth Point Proposals, to ensure that the
environmental implications of these proposals for increased levels of growth in the wider south, have been considered from the start. We have worked closely with Natural England and the Environment Agency to scrutinise the proposals to determine whether the levels and locations of growth present any problems with respect to water resources, and also flood management, water quality, green infrastructure and biodiversity/designated sites.
DEFRA has co-funded a study with CLG and the Environment Agency to investigate how total water demand in the Thames Gateway can be managed to ensure that development does not place additional demand on existing water resources. We are calling the concept water neutrality. We are currently considering in further detail exactly what this might mean for the Gateway, and will report on the study findings in due course.
On 1 April 2007, the preparation of water companies 25 year water resource management plans became a statutory requirement under the Water Act 2003, and will be subject to public consultation. These plans, which had hitherto been prepared voluntarily, set out the demand and supply measures water companies plan to take to maintain security of supply for their customers. Local authorities are statutory consultees for these plans and will be able to comment on the measures water companies are taking in respect of new housing developments.
Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many meetings (a) Ministers and (b) officials from her Department held with Sovereign Strategy in each year between 1997 and 2006. 
Margaret Beckett: Obtaining the information requested for the time period the right hon. Member has specified would incur disproportionate cost. However, my right hon. Friend the Minister for Europe has met Alan Donnelly, Executive Chairman of Sovereign Strategy, on a number of occasions as they have been personal friends for a number of years. Mr. Donnelly is well known to many Ministers and is likely also to have met others on a number of occasions over this period.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the likely effect of the security walls being constructed in Baghdad on the security situation in Baghdad; and if she will make a statement. 
Margaret Beckett: The security walls are being constructed by the Multinational Force (Iraq), under US command. We understand that they are a temporary measure to create secure neighbourhoods as part of a much wider range of measures being taken as part of the Iraqi-led Baghdad security plan. This plan, and the increase in US troop numbers in and around Baghdad, are designed to improve the security situation in Iraq.
It is too early to judge the success of the plan, not least because not all the additional US military units are in place. However, early indications show some signs for encouragement. Whilst the incidence of high profile suicide attacks remains of deep concern, other forms of sectarian violence are below pre-plan levels and the Iraqi security forces have so far performed well. Ultimately, efforts to improve security in Baghdad are designed to create the conditions in which Iraqis themselves can make progress on reconciliation and power-sharing, and we continue to provide encouragement and practical support to this process.
Jon Trickett: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assistance is being offered to the Malaysian High Commission to speed up the rate of issuance of the Pingat Jasa Malaysia medal for veterans. 
Margaret Beckett: The Pingat Jasa Malaysia (PJM) is a commemorative medal issued by the Malaysian Government for service between August 1957 and August 1966. The issue of this medal to veterans is a matter for the Malaysians. The Ministry of Defence has agreed to endorse applications for the PJM from veterans and to pass them on to the Malaysian High Commission. Veterans who wish to check the progress of their applications should write to the Malaysian High Commission.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the annual budget of the Middle East and North Africa strategy of the UK Global Conflict Prevention Pool is, broken down by expenditure on each country involved. 
Margaret Beckett: The budget for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Global Conflict Prevention Pool (GCPP) for financial year (FY) 2007-08 is £3 million. The following table details expenditure on each country in the proposed allocations for MENA GCPP.
|Financial year 2007-08|
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the role of the Governments Global Conflict Prevention Pool is in relation to the Middle East Peace Process; and if she will make a statement. 
Margaret Beckett: Global Conflict Prevention Pool (GCPP) mechanisms and resources are used to support UK policy towards the Middle East Peace Process. GCPP funds projects in the region that aim to address drivers of conflict in order to enhance the prospect of a sustainable two-state solution. Examples include:
a project which has helped move the route of the separation barrier closer to the green line;
a project which aims to raise awareness of planning problems in Palestinian villages in Israeli controlled areas of the West Bank and take action to tackle this problem;
a project identifying systematic failures in due process in the Israeli military courts and attempting to correct them through legal and public advocacy;
work to facilitate freedom of movement for Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories through legal and administrative action and promoting access to the Israeli judicial system; and
providing assistance to close protection for Palestinian President Abbas.
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