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Diverse Composition Products

20. Angela Watkinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions he has had with manufacturers on minimising products of diverse composition. [171750]

Joan Ruddock: Neither I nor my colleagues have had any recent discussions with manufacturers specifically on this issue.

However, our policies to make producers responsible for their products give businesses incentives to design products that use fewer materials, avoid the use of harmful substances, last longer and are easy to disassemble and recycle.

Carbon Dioxide Emissions

21. Kelvin Hopkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Transport on measures to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the transport sector. [171751]

Mr. Woolas: We regularly meet with Department for Transport Ministers to discuss ways that the transport sector can contribute to our commitments to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

The recently published ‘Towards a Sustainable Transport System’ demonstrates the Government's commitment to ensuring the transport sector plays its full role in tackling climate change.

Flood Sirens: Norfolk

22. Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will make a statement on the future provision of flood sirens in Norfolk. [171752]

Mr. Woolas: The Environment Agency provides flood warnings to the public by local radio and directly to individuals by telephone, mobile phone, text messages, emails, pagers and faxes through its Floodline Warnings Direct service. The Agency considers these communication methods more effective than sirens.

Energy Efficiency Direction Orders

23.Alan Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what criteria he uses in deciding whether to issue an energy efficiency
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direction order in response to local authorities failing to meet targets set in the Home Energy Conservation Act 1995. [171753]

Mr. Woolas: When considering whether to issue discretionary directions, we would need to consider the balance between this option and those measures identified in the 2006 Climate Change Programme and the Local Government White Paper.

Brazilian Beef

Mrs. Dorries: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the safety of imported Brazilian beef; and if he will make a statement. [171736]

Jonathan Shaw: I am aware of the concerns being expressed about beef imported from Brazil. The European Commission's Food and Veterinary Office has carried out a number of inspection visits to Brazil in recent years to look at official controls on foot and mouth disease, production methods and traceability. We will continue to work closely with the Commission to ensure the findings and recommendations from these inspection visits are followed up with appropriate action.

Agriculture: Sewage

Phil Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will bring forward proposals to amend his Department’s guidelines on spreading sewage sludge on farmland to prohibit the spreading of sewage sludge on farmland adjoining villages and other centres of population. [171840]

Mr. Woolas: When carried out in accordance with best practice, spreading sewage sludge to agricultural land can be a sustainable activity which improves the soil and provides nutrients for plant growth. The activity is currently controlled under the Sludge (Use in Agriculture) Regulations 1989, which set standards and application regimes for treated sludge, and require septic tank sludge to be worked into soil as soon as possible after spreading.

The Government are currently considering whether amendment of the regulations might help to address the concerns of residents in the vicinity of sludge spreading, particularly with regard to septic tank sludge, and whether alternative approaches, such as updating the code of practice for sludge spreading, might be appropriate.

Beaches: EU Law

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress has been made in transposing the revised Bathing Water Directive (2006/7/EC) into domestic law; and when he expects the provisions of the directive to be fully implemented in the UK. [170432]

Mr. Woolas: England is currently on target to meet the revised bathing water directive's transposition date of 24 March 2008. The revised directive will be fully
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implemented in England following the 2015 bathing season, when it is proposed that the first bathing water classifications are made.

DEFRA and the Welsh Assembly Government launched a joint public consultation on 12 November 2007 inviting comments on their proposals for the implementation of the revised bathing water directive in England and Wales. The deadline for consultation responses is 4 February 2008. Further details are available on the DEFRA website.

Comments on the consultation in Wales are a matter for the Welsh Assembly Government. Further information on the progress made towards transposing and implementing the directive in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, is available from the relevant devolved administration.

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of English bathing waters met the standards required by the current Bathing Water Directive in each of the last five years. [171186]

Mr. Woolas: The percentage of bathing waters in England complying with the mandatory standards for total and faecal coliforms for the last five years is:

Percentage

2002

98.5

2003

98.8

2004

98.3

2005

98.8

2006

99.5


The figure for 2007 is 97.8 per cent.

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment has been made of the capability of the Environment Agency to assess bathing water quality using fewer microbiological indicators as proposed in the revised Bathing Water Directive, 2006/7/EC. [171187]

Mr. Woolas: The revised Bathing Water Directive (rBWD), 2006/7/EC, came into force last year and updates and simplifies the current Bathing Water Directive (cBWD), 76/160/EEC, following developments in scientific and technical knowledge over the last 30 years. As a result of these developments, the rBWD, unlike the cBWD, only requires member states to test for two types of bacteria (intestinal enterococci and Escherichia coli) to be monitored as the best indicators of the risk of mild gastrointestinal illness in bathers.

The Government have formed a Bathing Water Technical Advisory Group comprising of the Environment Agency, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and the Northern Ireland Environment and Heritage Service, which will assess the implications of monitoring and analysing the two new microbiological indicators.

The Environment Agency also has an internal project in place which is overseeing the transfer from monitoring requirements under the cBWD to the rBWD, while maintaining a high level of quality assurance.


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Energy Saving Trust: Finance

Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) how much was allocated to the Energy Savings Trust in the last Budget; and if he will make a statement; [171521]

(2) how much has been allocated to the Energy Savings Trust in each year since it was founded; and if he will make a statement. [171523]

Mr. Woolas: DEFRA grant funds the Energy Saving Trust year-on-year, supporting the valuable work it undertakes to encourage and promote the sustainable and efficient use of energy. My Department has grant funded the Trust annually as follows(1):

Funding (£ million)

1996-97

25

1997-98

19

1998-99

19

1999-2000

23

2000-01

22

2001-02

22

2002-03

24

2003-04

25

2004-05

28

2005-06

27

2006-07

27

2007-08

29


Floods: Gloucestershire

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will meet representatives of Gloucestershire county council to discuss its recent report on flooding in the area. [170103]

Mr. Woolas: I understand Gloucestershire county council have provided a copy of their report to Sir Michael Pitt, who is leading an independent review of the summer's flooding, on behalf of the Government.

Floods: Gravesham

Mr. Holloway: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has had with ministerial colleagues on ensuring the safety of new homes built on flood plains in Gravesham. [171091]

Mr. Woolas: Local planning authorities are responsible for assessing planning applications including any flood risk management issues, taking account of advice from the Environment Agency. The Government issued strengthened policy on development and flood risk in December 2006, and an accompanying practice guide is being developed to provide practical guidance on how to take full account of flood risk at all stages of the planning process.


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Fly Tipping: West Midlands

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what action the Government has taken to reduce incidents of fly-tipping in the West Midlands. [162986]

Joan Ruddock: Tackling fly-tipping and wider waste crime is a priority for the Government. Our Waste Strategy for England, published in May 2007, makes clear that initiatives to boost waste prevention and recycling should be supported by fly-tipping strategies aimed at tackling the illegal dumping of waste.

The Strategy includes the Government’s Illegal Waste Activity Action Plan, which sets out what action is being taken and proposed in this area. This includes:

DEFRA has also funded Environmental Campaigns (Encams) to deliver a programme of work on local environmental quality and fly-tipping issues in partnership with Government Offices. This work will support the poorest performing local authorities in each region through a combination of data analysis, best practice sharing and targeted seminars. It will also promote the introduction of fly-tipping targets within local area agreements.

In addition, DEFRA funded the Jill Dando Institute of Crime Science to produce research on fly-tipping—“Fly-tipping: Causes, Incentives and Solutions”. This included good practice guidance on crime prevention techniques, including surveillance, and has been distributed to all local authorities in England.

Members: Correspondence

Mr. Winnick: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he will reply to the letter from the hon. Member for Walsall North of 31 October on the Climate Change Bill. [171841]


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Mr. Woolas: The hon. Member’s letter was received in the Department on 5 November 2007 and a reply despatched on 4 December 2007. I will arrange for a further copy to be sent to the hon. Member.

Rodents: Pest Control

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much Government funding went into supporting research into the development of new rodenticides in each of the last five years. [171837]

Mr. Woolas: In 2002 DEFRA funded a five year research project on rat control strategies costing £400,000. This included some work on use of a new rodenticide. The final report is available on the DEFRA website at:

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of which areas of the UK support populations of rats that have become resistant to all legally-available rodenticides. [172000]

Mr. Woolas: A Government funded survey was carried out in the 1990s which looked at resistance to anti-coagulant rodenticides and concluded that rodenticide resistance was becoming a significant problem in many areas.

On behalf of UK Government, the Health and Safety Executive delivers the regulatory authority role in relation to the use of rodenticide products in the UK. Last year, following agreement by the chairman of the Advisory Committee on pesticides, the HSE gave emergency approval for outdoor use of brodifacoum at one site in Winchester on the basis of an assessment that rats there appeared to be resistant to other treatments. Risks to wildlife (the reason outdoor use is not normally permitted) could be managed since it is a relatively enclosed site.


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