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Hilary Benn: It is the Government's intention to publish a draft marine Bill in the next parliamentary Session, probably in early 2008. The Government remain committed to meeting their manifesto commitment of delivering a marine Act in this Parliament.
12. Kerry McCarthy:
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment his Department has made of the final
report of the Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB and the efficacy of a badger cull in tackling this disease. 
Jonathan Shaw: We have already made clear that we are grateful to the ISG for their work on the randomised badger culling trial. We welcome their final report which further improves the evidence base. We are carefully considering the issues that the report raises, and will continue to work with industry, Government advisers and scientific experts in reaching policy decisions on these issues.
Jonathan Shaw: Reducing cattle to cattle transmission of bovine TB is crucial to achieving our aim of reducing TB in cattle overall and preventing its spread into new areas. We have introduced zero tolerance of overdue tests, pre-movement testing of cattle from high risk herds, extended the use of the gamma interferon test alongside the TB skin test and produced updated advice on husbandry best practice. We will continue to consider how these measures might be strengthened, taking account of the recommendations in the final report from the Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department is taking to assist the education of school children in the West Midlands in nature and farming. 
Jonathan Shaw [holding answer 18 July 2007]: My Department is committed to helping all school children in England learn more about food and farming in a sustainable countryside. DEFRA provides approximately £1 million a year in payments to farmers who provide schools with free educational visits to their farms as part of their agri-environment scheme agreements. In addition, in the current financial year, DEFRA will provide £146,000 to support the Countryside Educational Visits Accreditation Scheme (CEVAS), which provides training to farmers who provide educational access visits. This amounts to 50 per cent. of the schemes funding.
DEFRA has worked closely with the Department for Education and Skills (now the Department for Children, Schools, and Families), the Department of Health, and other stakeholders to support the Year of Food and Farming in education. This is a campaign to promote healthy living by giving children direct experience of food, farming and the countryside. It is an industry-led initiative, fully endorsed by Government, which will run throughout the academic year, September 2007 to July 2008. DEFRA has contributed financial support amounting to £130,000 to develop the programme. In addition, DEFRA has lent a member of staff to the Royal Agricultural Society of England (RASE) to work on the initiative.
Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research his Department has conducted into the relative efficiency, in terms of land use, of producing organic and non-organic crops. 
Jonathan Shaw [holding answer 18 July 2007]: DEFRA has not funded research specifically to look in overall terms at the relative efficiency, in terms of land use, of producing organic and non-organic crops. However, the following DEFRA-funded projects involve some element of comparison between organic and conventional farming:
OFO 145/301Testing the sustainability of stockless arable organic farming on a fertile soil
OF0165Factors influencing biodiversity within organic and conventional systems of arable farming
OFO 319/OFO 326Sustainable organic hill and upland farmingA collaborative case study approach
OFO 370Farm practice and soil health
OFO 189/OFO 190/OFO 373Economics of organic farming
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many claimants he estimates will receive interest on their 2006 Single Farm Payments for sums paid after 30 June 2007; what he estimates the total amount of interest paid will be; and if he will make a statement. 
Jonathan Shaw: The Secretary of State reported to the House on 2 July that about 2,900 claimants under the 2006 Single Payment Scheme had received a partial payment and were due a payment of the outstanding balance. In addition, the RPA had yet to complete work on about 2,000 claims to determine whether a payment is due in each case and the amounts of such payments. As the Secretary of State announced, the RPA will pay interest on payments made after 30 June. However, the Agency is not able to provide a robust estimate of the amount of interest due until the work on the outstanding cases has progressed.
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress has been made by the Rural Payments Agency in the implementation of the Single Payment Scheme; and if he will make a statement. 
Hilary Benn: I reported progress on the Single Payment Scheme to the House on 2 July. The Rural Payments Agency continues to work on the remaining SPS 2006 claims. However, most of the Agencys resources have been switched to reviewing SPS cases where entitlements may need to be adjusted.
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he plans to take to tackle the silo mentality identified in
the Eves Review on animal health and welfare within his Department. 
Jonathan Shaw: In his review of the Animal Health and Welfare delivery landscape, David Eves made wide-ranging recommendations. The need for greater co-ordination is a significant issue, leading to the recommendation for a pivotal role for Animal Health (formerly the State Veterinary Service). DEFRA accepts his recommendations and has considered how to act on them with Animal Health and Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services in particular. Animal Health is developing a lead role in co-ordinating Animal Health and Welfare delivery. At the same time, Animal Health is conducting, with local authority representatives, a review of the efficacy of the current delivery arrangements.
Jo Swinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will take steps to establish a uniform checking procedure for animals entering the UK by air, sea and rail; and what the reason is for the different procedure for those arriving by air. 
Jonathan Shaw [holding answer 17 July 2007]: European legislation requires that commercially imported animals from third countries are checked at Border Inspection Posts. In the UK, all live animal Border Inspection Posts are at airports. Commercial imports from other EU member states may be checked at the point of destination but this is not required.
All non-commercial imports of pet dogs, cats and ferrets into the UK are subject to the same identity and paperwork checks required under pet travel rules. Pets arriving by sea and rail are usually checked at the point of embarkation. Pets entering by air are checked when they enter the country for logistical reasons.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has had with local community councils and Action for Communities in Rural England on the potential impact of a substantial take-up by farmers of energy bio-crops on rural communities. 
Energy crops can make a valuable contribution to Governments climate change and overall sustainability objectives, by cutting greenhouse gas emissions, reducing dependence on fossil fuels and stimulating economic activity in rural areas.
The recently published UK Biomass Strategy provides a framework for a major expansion in the sustainable use of biomass as a source of electricity, heat and power, and to make transport biofuels and
renewable materials for industry. It estimates that there is potential to use up to 350,000 hectares of land across the UK by 2020 to grow perennial energy crops, without any detrimental effect on food supplies. This would provide important opportunities for agriculture and land based sectors and those involved throughout the bioenergy supply chains.
Government will establish appropriate environmental safeguards to deliver an expansion of biomass production in a sustainable way. Crops planted under DEFRAs Energy Crops Scheme are already subject to an environmental assessment before planting to include landscape, archaeology and wildlife considerations.
We will continue to work with stakeholders, including farming, industry and environmental interests as well as
regional bodies and local community groups to deliver the policies set out in the Biomass Strategy.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the changes to the use of land in South West England in the last five years; and what estimate he has made of the change in the amount of land used for energy bio-crops. 
|Arable||Other arable||Set aside||Grass||Woodland||Horticulture||Rough grazing|
The next table shows the amount of land used to produce bio-energy crops in the South West of England in the last five years. The land represented in this table has been used to grow short rotation coppice and miscanthus under the energy crops scheme and oil seed rape under the EU energy aid payment scheme.
In addition to these figures there has been 158 hectares of miscanthus planted in the region under the European Objective One programme which ran from 2000 to 2006. Unfortunately a yearly breakdown of this figure is not available.
Mr. Bailey: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department is taking to increase awareness and understanding of the impact everyday actions have on carbon dioxide emissions and to help people to identify what they can do about it. 
Hilary Benn: We support a considerable amount of work to help individuals think about the impacts of their behaviours. As part of our Act on CO2 campaign, we recently launched a web-based CO2 calculator which allows people and households to find out their CO2 footprint and receive a tailored action plan.
Jonathan Shaw: On 19 June we issued Consultation on proposals to improve access to the English coast. It seeks views on a number of different options to improve access including the proposal to allow Natural England to designate a coastal access corridor allowing people to enjoy unbroken access to the coast. A decision on which approach to take will be made following the consultation.
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