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Joan Ruddock: No records of offences against birds of prey are kept. Data showing the number of defendants found guilty of bird related offences under Part 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 from 2002 to 2006 in England and Wales are set out in the following table. It is not possible to distinguish between bird species.
|Number of defendants found guilty at all courts of selected offences under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, England and Wales, 2002 to 2006( 1,2)|
|(1) These data are on the principal offence basis. (2) Every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. However, it is important to note that these data have been extracted from large administrative data systems generated by the courts and police forces.|
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether he plans to extend funding under the Bellwin Scheme for areas affected by the flooding in Summer 2007 beyond 25 December. 
The time limit for eligible spending for Bellwin grant in respect of local authority costs incurred in dealing with the June floods is 14 December 2007. For the July floods, it is 2 January 2008. That represents a considerable extension of the normal two-month period and there are no plans to extend the periods of eligibility further.
Mr. Morley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many (a) CITESConvention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Floraand (b) non-CITES listed birds were imported into the EU each year between 2000 and 2006. 
Charlotte Atkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what (a) staff, (b) research support and (c) funding has been allocated to the Cross Departmental Committee for Inland Waterways; 
Jonathan Shaw: The Inter-Departmental Working Group on Inland Waterways is supported by the Departments for Transport, Communities and Local Government, Culture, Media and Sport, Health and Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform. It will also be attended by British Waterways, the Inland Waterways Advisory Council and the Association of Navigation Authorities to inform the discussions and to help develop policy through bringing a delivery and stakeholder focus.
The first meeting took place on 17 December at which its role and future work were discussed. Terms of reference will now be worked-up for agreement at the next meeting. It is expected that the Group will meet three times a year. The Group itself will decide how long it continues. No specific resources have been allocated to the Group as it will make use of existing departmental resources as appropriate.
David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what recent changes have there been in the allocation of funding for medium-term plans submitted to the Environment Agency; 
(2) what score on the Environment Agency's predetermined scale is necessary for an application for medium-term plan funding to be classed as favourable for approval; and what score was needed to reach this rating for each of the last five years. 
Mr. Woolas: From April 2008 and for the three-year comprehensive spending review (CSR) period, the Environment Agency and other operating authorities (i.e. local authorities and internal drainage boards) will deliver a number of outcome measures agreed with DEFRA. Targets will be set in the next few months.
During the CSR period, the current prioritisation method will migrate to a new system based around these outcome measures. While the new method is being developed and tested, the Environment Agency will use the existing system, moderated to take account of the outcome measures, urgent works or those required to fulfil legal requirements.
The achievement of these measures is an integral part of the prioritisation of the capital investment programmes for all operating authorities. As a result, all flood management and coastal erosion management schemes will be prioritised on a common basis.
As part of its strategic overview role for inland flooding and forthcoming strategic overview for matters associated with coastal flooding and erosion, the Environment Agency will administer the grant-in-aid arrangements, including extending its national programme management role to the prioritisation of schemes proposed by other operating authorities.
|Priority Score Thresholds|
DEFRA did not set a threshold score in 2006-07 when the Department's programme was fully committed. However, the priority score system has still been used to inform the allocation process for capital investment, moderated for urgent works or those required to fulfil legal requirements.
Mr. Ian Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the reasons are for the Environment Agency's policy that insurers should refuse cover for homes which local authorities have allowed to be built on flood plains; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Woolas: The decision whether to provide cover to properties on a flood plain is a matter for individual insurance companies. Insurance companies will take their own views on the risks that they are prepared to bear and at what cost; potential purchasers would be well advised to satisfy themselves that insurance will be available in the long term.
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for what reasons he has reduced the budget for the north-east of England for the construction of flood defences, with particular reference to the budget for Yorkshire and the Humber. 
Mr. Woolas: The Secretary of State has not reduced the budget for the construction of flood defences in the north of England this year; funding for the Yorkshire Regional Flood Defence Committee is a matter for the Environment Agency.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 28 November 2007, Official Report, column 537W, on game birds, what the (a) evidential basis and (b) methodology was for the estimate the report referred to that 99 per cent. of game birds shot for sport were destined for the food chain; and if he will make a statement. 
Joan Ruddock: The report was not commissioned by my Department. Any questions relating to the evidential basis and methodology of it should be referred to the commissioners of the report: the British Association for Shooting and Conservation, the Countryside Alliance, the Game Conservancy Trust or the Country Land and Business Association.
Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the annual reduction in nitrates that will be achieved by the proposed extension of the closed period in nitrate vulnerable zones. 
Mr. Woolas [holding answer 17 December 2007]: The Regulatory Impact Assessment and paper "D5Impact of the proposed Nitrate Vulnerable Zone Action Programme measures", published in support of the consultation on implementation of the nitrates directive in England, provide details of my Department's assessment of the likely impact of the proposed measures on losses of nitrate from agriculture.
It is estimated that the closed period for organic manure will reduce nitrate losses from agriculture by 0.5 per cent. to 1 per cent., and the closed period for manufactured nitrogen fertiliser will reduce losses by a further 0 per cent. to 1 per cent.
Work is being completed on the benefits realisation plan including work on baselining and setting appropriate targets and measures, and this will continue during and beyond the lifetime of the programme.
Mr. Laurence Robertson:
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what
the level of nitrates in water was (a) in England and (b) in Gloucestershire in each of the last five years for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. 
Approximately 7,000 surface water and 3,000 groundwater monitoring points in England and Wales were used to assess whether waters should be identified as polluted waters, in the recent review under the nitrates directive.
Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the potential cost to water companies of removing polluting nitrates from water; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Woolas: The regulatory impact assessment accompanying the consultation on the implementation of the nitrates directive in England, provides details of my Department's assessment of the potential cost to water companies of removing polluting nitrates from water.
The cost to the water industry to reduce high nitrate levels caused by diffuse pollution in drinking water supplies has been estimated at £288 million (capital expenditure) and £6 million per annum (operating expenditure) for the 2005-10 period.
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