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Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps the Government have taken to encourage the building and construction industry to build carbon zero housing. 
My Department has commissioned English Partnerships to run the Carbon Challenge. The aim is to accelerate the house building industrys response to climate change by creating a number of zero carbon communities and to equip the industry with the appropriate skills and technology. In the first phase of the Carbon Challenge around 1,000 zero carbon homes will be built all of which will be required to meet Level 6, which is the highest level, of the Code for Sustainable Homes.
Furthermore, the industry, together with local authorities and other stakeholders have been invited to come forward with proposals for eco-towns. Eco-towns will be entirely new settlements which are exemplar green developments of five to 20,000 homes and designed to meet the highest standards of sustainability. The development as a whole (including all homes) should reach zero carbon and should use the standards set out in the Code for Sustainable Homes as a guide.
The building and construction industry are also represented on the 2016 task force which was established to look at the barriers to achieving zero carbon homes by 2016 and the measures needed to address them.
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what assessment he has made of the effect of reductions in the budget for the maintenance of inland waterways; 
Jonathan Shaw: DEFRA sponsors the three largest navigation authoritiesBritish Waterways, the Environment Agency and the Broads Authority. DEFRA does not hold information on the funding and condition of waterways owned or managed by other navigation authorities.
The formal CSR settlement for 2008-09 to 2010-11 for Departments has been announced. This will now be followed by the Department's own financial allocation process during which the budgets for the Environment Agency, British Waterways and the Broads will be determined. The process is based on careful prioritisation across the Department and all its sponsored bodies. We are actively engaging delivery partners in this, but most final allocations, including those for the Environment Agency and British Waterways, will not be known until the new year after further discussions within DEFRA.
We are working with British Waterways and the Environment Agency to develop long-term strategies
which will maximise public benefits whilst delivering an affordable sustainable network within the total funding available.
Sir Michael Spicer: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs with reference to the letter of 1 October from the Minister for the Environment (reference: MC45270/TB), when he will respond to the letter from the hon. Member for West Worcestershire of 26 October 2007. 
Mr. Brazier: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the nitrate levels were in each of the areas which his Department plans to designate as nitrate vulnerable zones (a) on the most recent date for which figures are available and (b) (i) five and (ii) 10 years prior to that date. 
There are approximately 7,000 surface water monitoring points in England and Wales used to assess whether waters should be designated as polluted waters in the recent review under the nitrates directive. The information requested would require extensive research to be undertaken and therefore it is not possible to provide it because of the disproportionate costs involved.
Mrs. Villiers: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the Government are planning to seek a (a) temporary and (b) permanent derogation from mandatory air quality limits on Nox which will apply from 2010 under EU directive 1999/30/EC. 
Jonathan Shaw: There is no provision for a derogation from mandatory air quality limit values for oxides of nitrogen or nitrogen dioxide under directive 1999/30/EC. That directive sets limit values for nitrogen dioxide to be met by 2010.
A new ambient air quality directive, currently under negotiation, is expected to permit member states to apply for an additional five years to meet the nitrogen dioxide limit values. Subject to adoption of the directive, UK Government decisions around the use of this flexibility will be subject to public consultation.
Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which local authorities have expressed interest in having a depository for nuclear waste in their area; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Woolas: The consultation on "Managing Radioactive Waste Safely: a Framework for Implementing Geological Disposal" closed on 2 November 2007. An invitation for communities to express an interest will be invited later, once responses to the consultation have been assessed.
Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations he has received from members of the Science Advisory Council on the environmental effects of the Governments targets on biofuels; which members of the Council have made such representations; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Woolas: Members of the Science Advisory Council (SAC), collectively or as individual members, have not made any representations to my Department on the environmental effects of the Governments targets on biofuels.
Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what guidelines are issued by Ofwat on the design of foul sewerage systems in respect of the frequency of storm events; and if he will make a statement; 
Mr. Woolas: Ofwat does not issue guidelines on the design of foul sewerage systems. This is a matter for individual water and sewerage companies. Design standards for developers constructing new sewers are produced by the water and sewerage industry itself.
Ofwat and local authorities will be represented on a steering group which will be assisting the Government in looking at build standards for future sewerage provision. This forms part of DEFRAs work on implementing the Government's decision to transfer private sewers and lateral drains draining to the public sewerage system into the ownership of the water and sewerage companies.
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment his Department has made of the likely effect on UK carbon dioxide
emissions of maintaining British Summer time in winter and introducing double British Summer time in summer. 
Mr. Woolas: The Building Research Establishment, as part of the 2006 review of the UK Climate Change programme, estimated that adopting British summer time (BST) all year round would lead to approximately a 1 per cent. increase in carbon dioxide emissions. Switching to continental time (BST in the winter and BST plus one hour in the summer) would increase these emissions by about 2 per cent. Continental time was found to generate savings from domestic lighting and cooling in non-domestic buildings, but these effects are likely to be offset by increases in non-domestic heating and lighting, and by a small increase in domestic heating.
Mr. Henderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will ensure that water customers in the North East region will not have to contribute to a national recovery of compensation costs which affect other regions and other water company areas under the Water Abstraction Charges Scheme. 
Mr. Woolas: The Environment Agency is expected to take action against abstraction licences where the abstraction is adversely impacting on conservation sites, in particular those designated under European legislation. Where it needs to revoke or modify an abstraction licence, compensation is generally payable. The compensation payments form part of the cost of meeting its duty to manage water resources and will therefore be recovered via abstraction charges.
The Environment Agency is consulting on options to recover any compensation that may be payable. No decision on changes to abstraction charges will be taken until the consultation ends on 7 December and the Environment Agency has submitted its proposals to Ministers.
Jonathan Shaw: Commercial whaling seriously depleted all humpback stocks (a species listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Red list of threatened species). None of the great whale species have recovered to pre-exploitation levels.
The International Whaling Commission (IWC) recognises that there is considerable scientific uncertainty over the numbers of whales of different species and in different geographical stocks. For this reason, the IWC have decided not to give whale population figures except for those species/stocks which have been assessed in some detail.
|Population||Year(s) to which estimate applies||Approximate point estimate||Approximate 95 per cent. confidence limits|
|(1 )A rate of population increase of 3.1 per cent. (SE=0.005) was obtained from the Gulf of Maine for the period 1979-1993.( )(2 )Rates of increase. East Australia: 1981-96 12.4 per cent. (95 per cent. CI 10.1-14.4 per cent.). West Australia: 1977-91 10.9 per cent. (7.9-13.9 per cent.). (3 )Rates of increase of about 7 per cent. have been reported for the eastern North Pacific, 1990-2002.|
(4) Not yet available.
Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what percentage of (a) beef, (b) lamb, (c) pork and (d) dairy products used in his departmental headquarters were imported products in the most recent period for which figures are available. 
David Cairns: The Scotland Office has a variety of software, from different manufacturers, used within the Department. A typical PC will have a Microsoft Windows XP operating systems and software packages from at least 10 manufacturers. The software build has been developed to interact well and securely with all Government Departments and aid office productivity.
All the staff in the Scotland Office are on secondment from other civil service departments, mainly the Ministry of Justice or the Scottish
Executive. It is the responsibility of those Departments to provide details of EU foreign nationals and non-EU foreign nationals employed.
Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills (1) what funding he has allocated in cash terms to (a) Higher Education Funding Council for England funding for teaching costs only, (b) fee grants, (c) fee loans, (d) maintenance loans, (e) maintenance grants and (f) access funds in each year from 2008-09 to 2010-11; 
Bill Rammell: We are working through the detailed implications of the higher education settlement following the DIUS CSR07 announcement and will be in a position to provide more information early next year.
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