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Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Agriculture: Regional Income

Mr. Jamie Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what proportion of the gross value added of the Copeland area was dependent upon the farming industry in the latest period for which figures are available. [175940]

Jonathan Shaw: We are not able to provide data for the area of Copeland alone so the figures given are for the region of West Cumbria. This is made up of Copeland, Allerdale and Barrow-in-Furness, with Copeland covering just under half of the total area.

For the region of West Cumbria the agricultural industry accounted for 2.1 per cent. of gross value added in 2005.

Agriculture: Subsidies

Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of England’s comparative performance against (a) other EU member states, (b) Wales and (c) Scotland in making payments under the 2007 single payment scheme. [175614]

Jonathan Shaw: We have relatively little data at this stage on 2007 SPS payments made by other EU member states. However, all parts of the UK have either met or are on course to meet their targets. This includes England, where figures published by RPA for the end of December showed that full SPS payments amounting to over £497 million had been made to nearly 50,000 claimants. With payments having been initiated a month earlier than for the last scheme year, the Agency is currently on track to meet its targets for 2007 SPS of making 75 per cent. of the total value of payments by the end of March 2008 and 90 per cent. by the end of May 2008.

Mr. Jamie Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the total value is of single farm payments made to farmers within Copeland since the payments began. [175935]

Jonathan Shaw: Detailed analysis of the total value of single farm payments made to farmers within Copeland since the payments began is not available. Once the remaining scheme payments have been completed, a decision will be taken on the level of detail that will be published.

Mr. Jamie Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of single farm payments owed to farmers within Copeland for (a) 2005-06 and (b) 2006-07 has not yet been paid. [175936]


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Jonathan Shaw: Detailed analysis of the percentage of single farm scheme owed to farmers within Copeland for 2005-06 and 2006-07 is not available. Once the remaining scheme payments have been completed, a decision will be taken on the level of detail that will be published.

Avian Influenza: Pigeons

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will relax restrictions on pigeon flights arising from measures to combat avian influenza. [175287]

Jonathan Shaw: It is inappropriate to relax restrictions designed to mitigate the risks of introducing or spreading avian influenza in the face of uncertain evidence about the potential role that racing pigeons might play.

DEFRA’s Veterinary Risk Assessment takes account of all available evidence, including evidence that pigeons can be susceptible to this disease. In particular, a study by the European Food Safety Authority in 2006 concluded that pigeons may have the potential to act as a ‘bridging’ species between waterfowl and poultry. It is likely that the susceptibility of pigeons to avian influenza, and the clinical picture caused by infection, is strongly associated with genetic and biological variations between different strains of the virus.

There is research available which suggests that pigeons have limited susceptibility to some virus strains (mainly isolated some years ago), but other more recent publications(1) suggest the contrary and demonstrate that recently isolated strains of HPAI H5N1 could infect pigeons. This later study indicates that pigeons may be asymptomatic carriers of avian influenza virus.

Pigeons could also spread AI mechanically through infective material on their feet and feathers, and there is potential, especially in long races, for pigeons to land and mingle with wild birds while still on the continent.

Pigeon races can still take place in the absence of avian influenza cases on the near continent. However, good biosecurity, record-keeping and notification requirements must be followed.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will consider the merits of taking steps to review the status of the Channel Islands in relation to restrictions on pigeon flights arising from measures to combat avian influenza. [175288]

Jonathan Shaw: Avian influenza can potentially be a fast spreading disease so it is important that we have robust measures in place to mitigate the risks. Therefore, we require any birds from outside the British Isles attending any type of bird gathering to first be resident in the British Isles for 28 days, to allow time for any clinical signs of disease to become evident. This mitigates the risk that birds might be infected when they enter the British Isles but are not yet showing clinical signs; that is, they are incubating the disease. When birds are gathered together it provides a high risk of dissemination of infectious disease should it be present.

The geographical position of the Channel Islands means they are closer to continental Europe than the
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UK mainland, making it illogical to treat the Islands differently from France. For these purposes the islands are considered to be part of continental Europe rather than the British Isles. We therefore do not permit birds from the Channel Islands to attend gatherings in the British Isles without first being in the British Isles for 28 days. We have no plans to change this requirement.

Aviation

Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many air miles were travelled by Ministers in his Department in each year since 2000; and what estimate he has made of the total amount of carbon dioxide emissions produced as a result. [172267]

Jonathan Shaw: DEFRA came into being in June 2001. From information held centrally, and for the period April 2006-September 2007 inclusive, ministerial air travel totalled £112,118 miles with an associated carbon dioxide emissions figure of 66,021 Kg/CO2. Information for the period(s) prior to April 2006 could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

DEFRA Ministers attend meetings abroad for the purpose of representing the UK Government, and for furthering international dialogue. Where possible and appropriate, video conferencing is utilised as an alternative to air travel.

Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many air miles were travelled by (a) the Secretary of State and (b) Ministers in his Department on short haul flights over the last year; and what estimate he has made of the total amount of carbon dioxide emissions produced as a result of these flights. [172454]

Jonathan Shaw: Since 1999 the Government have published a list of all overseas travel by Cabinet Ministers costing over £500. Information for the last financial year was published on 25 July 2007. Details for the current financial year will be published as soon as possible after the end of the financial year. From next year, the list will include details of overseas visits undertaken by all Ministers. All ministerial travel is undertaken in accordance with the Ministerial Code

All central Government ministerial and official air travel has been offset from 1 April 2006. Departmental aviation emissions are calculated on an annual basis and subsequently offset through payments to a central fund. The fund purchases certified emissions reductions credits from energy efficiency and renewable energy projects with sustainable development benefits, located in developing countries.

In addition, offsetting the flights of Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Department for International Development, and the Prime Minister has been backdated to 1 April 2005.

A list of Government Carbon Offsetting Fund members, their emission figures and what activities they have offset through the fund is available online at:


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Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much has been spent by his Department on international flights in each year since it was established. [174357]

Jonathan Shaw: DEFRA came into being in June 2001. From information held centrally the core-Department's expenditure on domestic, continental and inter-continental flights for the period April 2006-November 2007 inclusive is:

£

Domestic

296,937

Continental

541,271

Inter-Continental

1,372,694


Since 1999 the Government have published a list of all overseas travel by Cabinet Ministers costing over £500. Information for the last financial year was published on 25 July 2007. Details for the current financial year will be published as soon as possible after the end of the current financial year. From next year, the list will include details of overseas visits undertaken by all Ministers. All ministerial travel is undertaken in accordance with the Ministerial Code.

All central Government ministerial and official air travel has been offset from 1 April 2006. Departmental aviation emissions are calculated on an annual basis and subsequently offset through payments to a central fund. The fund purchases certified emissions reductions credits from energy efficiency and renewable energy projects with sustainable development benefits, located in developing countries.

In addition, offsetting the flights of Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Department for International Development, and the Prime Minister has been backdated to 1 April 2005.

A list of Government Carbon Offsetting Fund members, their emission figures and what activities they have offset through the fund is available online at:

Other information on the core-Department's flights expenditure prior to April 2006 could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Bats: Protection

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what his Department's responsibilities are for bat protection; and if he will make a statement. [176148]

Joan Ruddock: As required by the European Habitats Directive, all species of bat and their roosts are afforded protection under regulation 39 of the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994. The principal offences address deliberate capturing, injuring or killing; deliberate disturbance; damaging or destroying a breeding site or resting place; and possessing, transporting, selling or exchanging live or dead specimens, Section 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 also affords protection against intentional or reckless obstruction of access to
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places of shelter or protection; disturbance whilst in occupancy and sale activities, including advertisement for the purpose of sale.

Where justified, exceptions to the legislative protection can be authorised under licences issued by Natural England.

DEFRA also acts as the UK focal point for the Agreement on the Conservation of Populations of European Bats, also known as the Eurobats Agreement. This Agreement seeks to protect all 45 species of bats identified in Europe, through legislation, education, conservation measures and international co-operation with other range states. The UK Government was instrumental in establishing the agreement and acts as the depositary to it.

Carbon Emissions

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the Government Carbon Offsetting Fund differentiates between domestic and international flights. [176169]

Mr. Woolas: Emissions from domestic and international flights are calculated differently where the air travel data available allow. Calculation factors for short, medium and long-haul flights are taken from DEFRA’s Greenhouse Gas conversion factors for company reporting, available on the DEFRA website.

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what methodology is used by the Government Carbon Offsetting Fund to calculate the distance travelled to require one tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent to be offset. [176570]

Mr. Woolas: The Government Carbon Offsetting Fund (GCOF) uses the DEFRA greenhouse gas conversion factors for company reporting to calculate emissions from air travel per kilometre.

GCOF also employs a radiative forcing multiplier of two to account for the additional impacts of emissions at altitude. Figures are presented in the form of CO2e (equivalent). Air travel distances are reported in kilometres by individual GCOF participants.

Cattle

Mr. Letwin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what types of ear tag for cattle were shown to be most effective in the most recent survey of tags by his Department. [174915]

Jonathan Shaw: No recent survey of cattle ear tags has been carried out by this Department.

Christmas

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much his Department and its agencies have spent on Christmas (a) cards, (b) parties and (c) decorations in each of the last five years. [171438]

Jonathan Shaw: The information is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.


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Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005

Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether he plans to review the premises excluded from section 102 of the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005, with particular reference to transport-based premises; and if he will make a statement. [175601]

Jonathan Shaw: I have no current plans to review the premises excluded from section 102 of the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005.

Transport operators are obliged to provide adequate lighting to ensure the health, safety and security of their employees, customers and others. Artificial lighting is needed outside at night.

The transport premises exempted either tend to operate in a 24-7 environment or are places where essential maintenance takes place during the night due to the need to ensure that vehicles and the infrastructure is operational during the day. It is not open to the transport industry, without causing disruption to the wider economy, to switch operations to the daytime. In such cases, it is far more resource intensive to mitigate against light escaping into the atmosphere than is the case with other commercial premises where much of the activity will be carried out indoors and the question of light pollution can be addressed through adequate blinds.

Where artificial lighting is required for operational, security and safety reasons in transport premises, it is in the public interest for Parliament to recognise this in the form of exemptions and to put beyond doubt that, in such circumstances, artificial lighting is not a statutory nuisance.

The prime objective of extending the statutory nuisance provisions to include artificial lighting is to deal with local sources of bright light which cause annoyance to local residents, such as domestic security and decorative lighting. The existence of the transport exemptions does not affect the Act’s effectiveness against this sort of problem.

Delivery Services

Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which companies are under contract to his Department to provide mail services. [170165]

Jonathan Shaw: DEFRA has Framework Agreements in place with Royal Mail and Amtrak for UK and International mail services. The Government Despatch Service is also used.


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