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Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what discussions he has had with the Welsh Assembly Government on the issue of contagious diseases affecting livestock; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) what discussions he has had with the Welsh Assembly Government on plans to compensate farmers in Wales who have made losses due to the restriction on the movement of their cattle introduced as a consequence of the recent foot and mouth outbreak; and if he will make a statement; 
(3) what discussions he has had with the Welsh Assembly Government on provisions to contain any further outbreaks of bluetongue and foot and mouth disease in the next 12 months; and if he will make a statement; 
Jonathan Shaw: The Government are working closely with the devolved administrations to co-ordinate the disease control response throughout Great Britain. Officials in the Welsh Assembly Government are actively involved in policy decisions for foot and mouth disease (FMD), bluetongue and now avian influenza, and in reviewing the disease control strategies.
Certain functions under the Animal Health Act 1981, including disease control functions, were transferred to the National Assembly for Wales under the Transfer of Functions Order 2004 (SI 2004/3044) and are now the responsibility of the Welsh Assembly Government. The transfer of functions was not accompanied by an apportioned transfer of budgets. These are retained by DEFRA, which meets the costs of animal disease control, welfare and surveillance on behalf of Wales.
Where animals are slaughtered and property seized due directly to FMD, DEFRA meets the cost of compensatory payments, including those in respect of Wales. This does not extend to the offer of financial support for consequential loss.
The EU Commission and member states have agreed a new Decision which will allow the relaxation of current FMD export restrictions on meat and meat products. This Decision is expected to come into force in the middle of November. The current FMD restrictions will be amended and the FMD Restricted Zone in England will be lifted when this occurs. This will allow farmers in Wales to send animals for slaughter for the export market. The implementation of this decision has been developed in close consultation with officials in the Welsh Assembly Government.
The UK remains committed to an approach to the control of bluetongue which aims to contain the disease within the current restricted area, in line with Phase 1 of the UK Bluetongue Disease Control Strategy. This takes into account the epidemiological situation, the time of year (coming towards the end of the vector season), and the cost benefit analysis of disease control measures and their likely economic impacts. Decision-making about the placing of the surveillance zone boundaries has been shared with Welsh Assembly Government and with a core group of stakeholders.
This assessment remains under constant review with stakeholders as the bluetongue disease situation develops, and recognises that efforts to contain the disease may become disproportionate to the costs to industry, and therefore the strategy may have to change. However, using the above assessment, this point has not yet been reached.
We are very conscious that we must balance the need to reduce the pressure on the industry with the overriding objective of controlling the spread of bluetongue. We will continue to work with the devolved administrations in reviewing and implementing our bluetongue control policy.
Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much subsidy is given for miscanthus grass (a) growing and (b) harvesting; and what use is made of miscanthus grass grown in Devon. 
Jonathan Shaw [holding answer 19 November 2007]: Grant aid for miscanthus under the Energy Crops Scheme (ECS) is a one-off payment for the costs associated with establishing the crop. The rate is £920 per hectare.
Peter Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will make it his policy to restore the link between the minimum storage period required for slurries and poultry manures and the risk factors for individual farms under the proposed Nitrate Vulnerable Zone Action Plan to permit shorter storage periods where there is no demonstrable environmental risk. 
Mr. Woolas: The proposed Nitrates Action Programme is currently at public consultation. Following the close of the consultation on 13 December, my Department will consider carefully all comments received on the proposals before making recommendations on how to progress implementation of the policy in England.
Mr. Dunne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he is taking to secure a derogation under the nitrate vulnerable zone regulations from the 230 kg total nitrogen limit in relation to grassland. 
Mr. Woolas: My Department is preparing to submit an application to the European Commission for a derogation from the 170 kg N/ha/yr (nitrogen/hectare/year) whole farm limit for applications of livestock manure.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the measures proposed in his Departments Nitrates Directive consultation go beyond the minimum requirements of the Nitrates Directive; and if he will make a statement. 
The proposals are based upon good agricultural practice and reflect what the Department considers to be the best way of achieving reductions in losses of nitrogen from agriculture (thereby achieving the environmental objectives of the Nitrates Directive) while maintaining a sustainable agricultural industry.
Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the (a) budget and (b) remit is of each non-departmental public body sponsored by his Department; who the chairman is of each; and to what salary, including bonuses and expenses, each chairman is entitled. 
Jonathan Shaw: The information requested is published in individual non-departmental bodies annual reports and accounts. Also available on the DEFRA website (www.defra.gov.uk) is a full list of DEFRAs non-departmental bodies providing further information and links to published documents including annual reports.
Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of British-produced packaging is (a) sold to British markets, (b) sold to EU countries which have implemented EC Directive on Packaging and Packaging Waste 94/62/EC and (c) non-EU countries. 
Figures for 2006 show that 10.4 million tonnes of packaging entered the UK waste stream. 6.3 million tonnes of packaging waste was recovered and recycled, of which 2.2 million tonnes was exported. Export figures are not broken down by destination.
Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much was spent on removing (a) pesticides and (b) nitrates from drinking water supplies in each of the last five years. 
Mr. Woolas: The following table shows the additional capital expenditure on new assets for the removal of pesticides and nitrates from drinking water, in each of the last five years, for all appointed water companies in England and Wales.
|Capital expenditure in 2006-07 prices|
Over the five years preceding 2006-07, companies reported additional capital expenditure of £78 million on reducing pesticides levels and £130 million on reducing nitrate levels in the public water supplies (in 2006-07 prices indexed using the Retail Prices Index).
In addition to new assets, companies also maintain and operate existing assets, in order to reduce pesticide
and nitrate levels. This is included as part of their base expenditure. Ofwat does not collect this information separately.
Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many responses in (a) written submissions and (b) on-line answers to consultation questions his Department received in its consultation on managing radioactive waste safely before 2 November 2007; when he expects to post written submissions received on his departmental website; and when he expects to publish the Governments conclusions on the consultation. 
Mr. Woolas: The Managing Radioactive Waste Safely consultation A Framework for Implementing Geological Disposal closed on 2 November. There were options for written or email responses and my Department has currently received 166 responses in total, and of these, 97 were email and 69 written responses.
We are currently analysing all responses and are aiming to publish a summary within three months. Copies of responses will also be made publicly available. We expect the outcome to be the basis for a White Paper policy statement during the first half of 2008.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has had with the European Commission about the composition of regional advisory councils; what his policy is on their composition; and if he will make a statement. 
The composition of the regional advisory councils is defined in Council Regulation 2004/585, which the UK supports. The rule is that the regional advisory councils are made up of representatives of the fishing sector (two thirds) and interested parties (one third) such as angling and environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
Mr. Maples: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the trend in the nitrate content of the River Avon in Warwickshire over the last 10 years; and what estimate he has made of the likely trend in the next 10 years. 
Mr. Woolas: Overall there are increases in nitrate concentration in the River Avon as the river flows downstream. This is not unusual in watercourses that receive treated sewage effluents and agricultural runoffs.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what reviews the Environment Agency is undertaking into flood and tidal risk management related to the River Severn. 
Mr. Woolas: The Environment Agency first published the Severn Catchment Flood Management Plan (CFMP) in June 2005. The Severn CFMP was a pilot which formed part of the Environment Agency's research and development work to determine the best way to manage flood risk at a catchment scale.
The pilot is currently being upgraded to comply with revised national guidance, incorporating the impact of recent floods, improvements in river modelling technology and up to date information on climate change. The revised CFMP will go to full public consultation in April 2008. However, stakeholder meetings are currently taking place to inform the re-drafting. The report is scheduled to be approved by the end of September 2008 followed by publication in December 2008.
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment has been made of the (a) need for and (b) practicability of an additional Thames barrier to the East of the existing one; and if he will make a statement. 
Colin Challen: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions his Department has had with the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform on UK participation in international earth observation satellite programmes. 
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