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10 July 2007 : Column 1375W—continued

Flood Control: Shrewsbury

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much was spent on flood defences for Shrewsbury in (a) 2005 and (b) 2006. [147677]

Mr. Woolas: Flood defence spending in Shrewsbury, over the period requested, was as follows:

Spend (£)





Expenditure is by financial year, which runs from April to March.

The Shrewsbury office covered the Environment Agency's Upper Severn Area of the Midlands Region during 2005 and 2006.

The catchment extends from Market Drayton and Oswestry in the north, Clywedog and Vyrnwy reservoirs in the west, Dudley and Wolverhampton in the east and south to Worcester and Ludlow.

Expenditure of £134,000 in 2005-06 and £43,000 in 2006-07 was incurred on temporary flood defences for Coton Hill and Coleham Head, Shrewsbury. The £3.5 million Frankwell scheme was completed in 2003-04.

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Flood Protection: Urban Areas

Mr. Clegg: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what steps he is taking to protect city centres against (a) flood events and (b) likely impacts of climate change; [146568]

(2) what steps are being taken (a) in Sheffield and (b) at a national level to improve drainage systems in city centres to cope with (i) flood risks and (ii) climate change. [146569]

Mr. Woolas [holding answer 29 June 2007]: Increased flood risk, from both rivers and the sea, is one of the top predicted impacts of climate change in the UK. We are considering the rising risk from climate change as part of our long-term strategy, ‘Making Space for Water’. The strategy takes a holistic approach to the management of risk across Government, together with increasing awareness and emergency preparedness within communities to help them better cope with flood events when they occur.

In January 2007, as part of ‘Making Space for Water’, we announced the start of 15 integrated urban drainage pilot studies around the country. The projects, made possible by £1.7 million of funding from DEFRA, will test new approaches to reduce the risk of urban drainage flooding, both from sewers and storm water.

While the pilot projects will not directly fund capital improvements, they should bring greater clarity on responsibilities for funding urban drainage management between water companies, local authorities, the Environment Agency, internal drainage boards and the Highways Agency. Following completion of the pilot projects in the spring of 2008, DEFRA will produce new guidance on effective partnership working to deliver integrated drainage solutions in high-risk urban catchments and prepare a regulatory impact assessment for any proposed legislative changes.

In addition, water companies' price limits for 2005-10 allowed a programme of nearly £1 billion to safeguard homes against the risk of sewer flooding. This would resolve or mitigate every known high-risk problem of internal flooding from overloaded sewers where companies' plans said is needed by 2010. By then the proportion of properties at risk would reduce to 0.01 per cent. of households.

Floods: Kingston upon Hull

Ms Diana R. Johnson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the planned levels of spending on the flood protection and water drainage infrastructure serving Kingston upon Hull will be re-examined to meet the effects of climate change. [146592]

Mr. Woolas: The Environment Agency has produced a Tidal Flood Risk Management Strategy for the whole of the Humber estuary over the next 100 years. This takes into account anticipated climate change and sea level rise.

The agency study was in the process of being extended to cover river flooding issues in and around Hull. Clearly, in the light of recent events in the city,
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there will be a need for the Environment Agency, the city council and Yorkshire Water to consider together the adequacy of current drainage systems as a whole and whether any further works need to be planned.

Floods: Safety Measures

Mr. Clegg: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how health and safety advice is being disseminated to those whose homes have recently been flooded and who wish to re-enter and restore their properties. [146615]

Mr. Woolas: Information about health risks from flooding has been published on the Health Protection Agency's website and is being disseminated via primary care trusts.

Floods: Sheffield

Mr. Clegg: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether any flood defence failures occurred in the recent flooding in Sheffield. [146567]

Mr. Woolas [holding answer 29 June2007]: I refer the hon. Member to the statement given by the then Secretary of State on 26 June 2007, Official Report, column 163, in which he explained that it is too early to make a full assessment of the recent flooding but that there had been no reported structural failings of flood defences.

Floods: Warnings

Mr. Clegg: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the number of people in Sheffield whose homes were flooded in June 2007 who were registered with Flood Warnings Direct; at what time and at what stage in the flooding the Flood Warnings Direct warnings went out to those registered; and what steps his Department is taking to encourage people in Sheffield to register with Flood Warnings Direct. [146614]

Mr. Woolas: Information on the numbers of flooded properties and those registered with Flood Warnings Direct (FWD) will be gathered after the current emergency has ended.

Since 2000, the Environment Agency has contacted people at risk of flooding and asked them to register with FWD. The agency has also carried out a series of home visits throughout west Yorkshire to boost the number of registered properties. This is an effective way of increasing the coverage of FWD and the agency aims to repeat the process in south Yorkshire later this year.


Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much timber was harvested in England in each of the last five years. [148124]

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Joan Ruddock: The estimate of timber harvested in England in each of the last five years for which figures are available is given in the table.

Removals in million green tonnes
Softwood ( f rom conifer trees) Hardwood ( f rom broadleaved trees) Total





















Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what programmes are in place to replace areas of woodland lost to development with new areas of planting. [148129]

Joan Ruddock: There is no specific programme in place to replace areas of woodland lost to development. Nevertheless, there is significantly more new woodland created in England each year than is lost to development.

Forests: Conservation

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether a system is in place to monitor the conservation of ancient woodlands. [148094]

Joan Ruddock: The conservation of ancient woodland is monitored in a number of ways including the National Inventory of Woodlands and Trees, which provides data on area, ownership, species composition, age, regeneration and ecological structure of all woodland. The Ancient Woodland Inventory is updated by Natural England when changes are reported and it is being revised in some of the most well wooded parts of South East England. 15 per cent. of England’s ancient woodland is in Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) where their condition is monitored.

GMOs: Potatoes

Alan Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) if his Department will require BASF to conduct food safety studies of their GM blight resistant potatoes on the same lines as those required by the Irish government for trials in that country; [147246]

(2) what assessment he has made of the potential health impacts from contamination of non-GM potato crops resulting from trials of BASF GM blight resistant potatoes. [147245]

Mr. Woolas: The Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment has assessed these trials and is satisfied that they will not have any adverse effect on human health or the environment. Given the limited scale of the trials and the management conditions that have been imposed, it is not expected that there will be any transfer of a GM presence into non-GM potato
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crops. In that context, and given that the GM potatoes will not be used for food or feed, it would not be appropriate in our view to require detailed food safety studies as a pre-condition for the trials to take place. Such studies will be necessary if BASF decides in due course to seek authorisation to market the GM potatoes for food and feed use in the European Union.

Greyhounds: Animal Welfare

Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the greyhound industry on the welfare of retired racing greyhounds. [146635]

Jonathan Shaw: My ministerial predecessor, my hon. Friend the Member for Exeter (Mr. Bradshaw), met representatives of the industry on 7 November 2007. He informed hon. Members about the meeting on 6 November 2007, Official Report , column 614.

Horses: Animal Welfare

Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has had with the Jockey Club on the design of racecourses and the reduction of the incidence of injuries to racehorses. [146636]

Jonathan Shaw: There have been no discussions between DEFRA Ministers and the Jockey Club on this matter.

Housing: Environment Protection

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the average (a) energy efficiency, (b) water efficiency and (c) carbon dioxide emissions of homes constructed to operate unconnected to mains electricity, gas and water supply. [146789]

Mr. Woolas: The Government have made no estimate of the average energy efficiency or carbon dioxide emissions from homes unconnected to mains electricity and gas supply. The requirements of part L of the Building Regulations, which set requirements for energy efficiency and carbon dioxide emissions, apply to all homes regardless of whether or not they are connected to mains energy supplies. Nevertheless, developers are reasonably free to determine how to meet the requirements of part L.

The Code for Sustainable Homes and the draft Planning Policy Statement on Climate Change are designed to cut carbon emissions from new homes and promote low and zero carbon homes in the period up until 2016, when the Government have proposed that all new homes will be zero carbon.

It is estimated that there are around 50,000 private water supplies serving about 0.6 per cent. of the population in England and Wales. No estimate has been made about the water efficiency of these dwellings, and they are not subject to the Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations 1999.

DEFRA and the Department for Communities and Local Government have jointly consulted on options for regulating for minimum standards of water
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efficiency in new homes and commercial buildings. If requirements were to be introduced through building regulations they would apply to all new houses irrespective of the type of water supply. The consultation closed on 9 March 2007, and we will publish responses in due course.

Inland Waterways: Pollution

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what mechanisms the Environment Agency has in place to monitor levels of pollution in (a) the River Severn, (b) public waterways, (c) the sewerage system, (d) Brofiscin Quarry and (e) Maendy Quarry; and what records the agency keeps of the potential sources of pollution. [147899]

Mr. Woolas: The Environment Agency routinely monitors 61 sites within the fresh and estuarine waters of the River Severn. The substances assessed and frequency of monitoring vary between monitoring points. In total the monitoring undertaken covers 134 different substances and parameters.

Many public waterways are included in the Environment Agency's routine monitoring programme. Where possible pollution incidents are identified, depending on severity these are followed up by more detailed investigations.

Water companies are responsible for monitoring the sewerage system. The Environment Agency monitors the quality of discharges from sewage works into the water environment to check compliance with consent requirements.

The Brofiscin and Maendy quarries are in Wales and are therefore a devolved matter.

The Environment Agency keeps a number of records of potential sources of pollution. These include records of consented discharges to surface and groundwaters; waste management licences and authorisations for industrial processes.

Livestock: Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate his Department has made of greenhouse gas emissions from livestock, particularly cattle; and what studies he has commissioned or reviewed into ways of reducing their emissions. [146727]

Mr. Woolas: Agriculture as a whole contributes 7 per cent. of all UK greenhouse gas emissions and 14 per cent. globally. The sector accounts for 37 per cent. of methane and 67 per cent. of nitrous oxide emissions in the UK, but only 1 per cent. of carbon dioxide. About 86 per cent. of this methane comes from enteric fermentation in the digestive systems of animals (mainly cattle, sheep, pigs and horses) and 14 per cent. from animal waste. Methane emissions from agriculture have declined by 12 per cent. since 1990.

DEFRA has established research programmes to help build the evidence on reducing emissions from livestock through nutrition, husbandry, genetics, and nutrient management. We currently have two projects looking at both nutritional and genetic potential for
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reducing methane and nitrogen emissions from livestock. The first will identify feed strategies in collaboration with industry to ensure knowledge transfer, and the second will identify areas where genetic research can add value. We are also taking a critical look at the configuration of the livestock sector and how this might need to change in order to meet emissions and other environmental targets.

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