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|Flood Prevention Renewals||Location||London Borough||Cost (£)|
Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many helicopters are available to the Environment Agency to implement emergency flood protection; and what evaluation he has made of the adequacy of these aircraft for such transportation work. 
Jonathan Shaw: The Environment Agency is able to call upon military assistance during a crisis where there are lives at risk. The availability of these assets is dependent on military deployment at the time and is managed through Royal Air Force Kinloss.
Helicopters would be used only when land-based emergency flood protection measures cannot be undertaken safely. The Ministry of Defence determines the adequacy of these aircraft for transportation of sandbags and other materials.
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what methods the Environment Agency uses to alert householders without access to the internet to flood warnings; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Woolas: The Environment Agency uses a number of methods to alert householders. Floodline Warnings Direct alerts householders via an automated message system using phone, mobile, and pagers to send voice messages, faxes and SMS (Short Message Service). Sirens, loudhailers and media broadcasts are also used.
In addition, police officers and other officials have provided door to door information to significant numbers of people throughout the period of flooding in a heroic and successful exercise. These warnings have been undertaken as a result of the civil resilience planning under the auspices of the 2004 Civil Contingencies Act, which requires all Category 1 responders to maintain arrangements to warn the public, and to provide information and advice to the public, if an emergency is likely to occur or has occurred.
Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the number of households in Tewkesbury constituency which are without (a) water and (b) electricity as a result of the recent floods; when he expects those supplies to be restored; and if he will make a statement. 
Flooding has rendered the Mythe water treatment works inoperable. Current estimates are that 140,000 premises are currently without tap water across the region and that it could take between seven and 14 days to restore services. It is estimated that 10,000 of these premises are in the Tewkesbury area.
A temporary solution has been devised by Severn Trent Water which will allow some water from the Strensham treatment works to be directed to the piped system serving Tewkesbury. Pumping is planned to start on 26 July and should build up to 20 megalitres a day. However, this supply will be intermittent and discoloured and customers will be advised that it should not be used for drinking. Customers that do get this water should continue to rely upon bottled water and, after boiling, water from bowsers for drinking purposes.
The priority is to increase the supply of drinking water. Across the region, over 900 water bowsers and tanks have been deployed. More are being obtained and the number is expected to increase to 1,800. Some 75 road tankers are filling the bowsers every day and more have been sourced. Bottled water distribution points have been set up and up to 5 million litres of water are being provided every day. A list of vulnerable people and isolated communities has been collated.
We understand few households are now lacking power. Emergency measures to prevent flooding of Walham electricity switching station have so far been successful in ensuring continued operation of this major component of the power supply system.
Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps the Environment Agency took recently to warn the public about possible flooding; when the flood warnings were issued; what other steps the Environment Agency took in response to the Meteorological Office warning and information; and when these steps were taken. 
Jonathan Shaw: The Environment Agency has worked closely with the Met Office, receiving a number of flood specific weather and rainfall warnings, which helped to inform the agencys flood forecasting systems. In total, the Met Office issued 214 flood warnings, including 19 severe flood warnings, from 18 July.
In response to this, the Environment Agency issued warnings to an estimated 145,000 people via its free Floodline Warnings Direct system. This provides information to the public, the emergency services, local authorities, and the media via email, telephone, mobile, fax or pager.
Mr. David Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment his Department has made of the effects of large-scale tree felling on the risk of flooding in flood-prone areas. 
Flood risk management is a devolved responsibility and this answer relates to England only. Changes in the way land is used can impact on the
speed and volume of flood water run-off. However, deforestation is not a significant factor increasing flood risk in England.
There has been research on the impacts of woodlands and forestry on flood run-off. Mature forests can reduce the rate of run-off. New plantations can in fact increase it though this can depend on the nature of any drainage infrastructure installed in connection with them. Evidence to date suggests that, while there can be a significant impact on smaller flood events at the local scale, effects are likely to be much less for more extreme floods at the wider catchment level.
The developing cross-Government Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Strategy, Making Space for Water, promotes a whole-catchment approach to flood alleviation, drawing on opportunities provided by rural land use and land management practices.
Jonathan Shaw [holding answer 26 July 2007]: Information on the number of holdings is collected in the annual June Survey of Agriculture and Horticulture. No information is collected on the number of holdings leaving the business. The figures in the table show the number of registered holdings in England in less favoured areas at June each year. These figures show net change only and therefore include gains as well as losses. The Survey does not specifically identify a category of hill farms but the figures for less favoured areas include this sector.
|Holdings in severely disadvantaged areas||Holdings in disadvantaged areas||Total holdings in less favoured areas||Total holdings|
1. All holdings are allocated one grid reference only, farm boundaries are not mapped. All land on a holding is allocated to this single gird reference point although it is possible that the whole holding may not fall wholly inside or outside the less favoured area.
2. Due to a change in classification procedures for holdings in less favoured areas 2006 data are not directly comparable with earlier years.
3. The introduction of the Single Payment Scheme in 2005 has led to an increase in the number of registered holdings. These registered holdings need not necessarily have agricultural production but should meet the definition of having land in good agricultural and environmental condition
June Agriculture Survey
Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what assessment he has made of the effect of the expenditure by local authorities on the Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme on expenditure on other areas of sustainable waste management; 
Joan Ruddock: The Landfill Allowances Trading Scheme (LATS) is not a revenue raising measure. It is a flexible scheme intended to ensure that England meets, as cost effectively as possible, its share of the national limits in the European Union Landfill Directive on landfilling of biodegradable municipal waste.
LATS encourages local authorities with the lowest diversion costs, to landfill less than their allowances permit and sell the surplus to authorities that face higher costs of diversion. Conversely, authorities with higher costs of diversion may prefer to meet their obligations under the scheme by buying allowances at a lower cost than actually undertaking the diversion themselves.
The Government takes account of all the costs of waste management when allocating local government funding. It is the responsibility of each individual local authority to plan its own expenditure. No assessment has been undertaken on the effect of local authority compliance with LATS obligations on other areas of sustainable waste management.
Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 10 July 2007, Official Report, column 1381W, on livestock: MRSA, what testing has been carried out to detect MRSA in farm animals in the last 12 months; and what methodology was employed for the testing. 
Jonathan Shaw: DEFRA has initiated a study undertaken by the Veterinary Laboratories Agency to test Staphylococcus aureus ( S. aureus) isolates obtained from bovine clinical submissions for methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA). This project commenced in autumn 2006.
The methodology employed in the study involves determination of the minimum inhibitory concentration of oxacillin using the agar dilution method of the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy. All isolates are also examined using the disc diffusion method of the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy and a 10 microgram cefoxitin disc. Two different susceptibility testing methods are therefore used to check for the presence of methicillin resistance in the isolates.
The latest available figures are that 658 bovine S. aureus isolates from cases of clinical disease in cattle in England and Wales (mainly cases of mastitis for which milk samples are collected) have been tested and no MRSA isolates have been detected.
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