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10 Jan 2008 : Column 744Wcontinued
Jonathan Shaw: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 12 December 2007, Official Report, column 703W.
Shona McIsaac: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps have been taken to prevent flooding in Cleethorpes constituency; and what plans he has for additional steps to be taken. 
Mr. Woolas: The Environment Agency has been developing a long-term strategy for the management of tidal flood risk around the Humber estuary over the next 100 years. This strategy has recently been completed and will be launched on 7 March 2008.
The Environment Agency has completed a number of improvements to flood defences in the last five years in advance of the aforementioned strategy. This includes improvement works to the concrete defences at Stallingborough in 2002 at a cost of £2.2 million, improvements to the earth embankments at Barton on Humber in 2005 at a cost of £3.4 million and new pumps and electrics at Butts Road Pumping Station in 2007 at a cost of £0.165 million.
In 2007, the Environment Agency commissioned a system of flood warning sirens in the Grimsby and North Cleethorpes area. These will be sounded if the Environment Agency issues a severe flood warning for extreme tidal conditions.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will make representations to Severn Trent plc to grant compensation to Gloucestershire residents who were without mains water for a substantial period of time following the July floods. 
Mr. Woolas: Under the GSS (Guaranteed Service Standard) automatic right to compensation is not available to those Severn Trent customers that found themselves without water. This is because compensation is not payable if the disruption is caused by severe weather conditions (including flooding). Nonetheless, Severn Trent Water has put in place a community recovery fund of £3.5 million to support a range of projects in Gloucestershire. This payment was made on a voluntary basis and will come from company profits rather than customers bills.
Research carried out and reported by Consumer Council for Water found that most residents recognise that the flooding and subsequent loss of water supply to over 140,000 households was unprecedented and that the majority are not seeking compensation. Instead they are seeking a clear commitment from Severn Trent that the company will invest to protect its infrastructure.
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will include representatives of insurance companies in the work of local flood forums. 
Mr. Woolas: For emergency planning purposes, the principal mechanism for local multi-agency co-operation is the Local Resilience Forum; Local Flood Forums and Groups are independent of Government and free to liaise with whomever they choose. However, advice given on insurance issues to Local Resilience Forums and local responders on emergency situations is contained in National Recovery Guidance.
At the national level, Government work closely with the Association of British Insurers with the mutual aim of ensuring continued widespread availability of flood insurance cover.
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans he has to review the flood warning system operated by the Environment Agency, including the most appropriate form of warning given; and if he will introduce an opt-out system of flood warning registration. 
Mr. Woolas: I refer the hon. Member to Sir Michael Pitts Interim Report on the 2007 floods, to which the Secretary of State responded to on 17 December.
Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the loss in income to farmers in Westmorland and Lonsdale constituency as a consequence of the 2007 foot and mouth disease outbreaks. 
Jonathan Shaw: DEFRAs current estimate of the economic cost to the UK livestock sector of the movement restrictions and the ban on exports imposed as a result of foot and mouth disease is over £100 million. Disaggregated estimates of the cost to farmers in individual constituencies have not been made.
Mr. Jamie Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether he has made an assessment of the impact of the recent foot and mouth disease outbreak on the agricultural economy of (a) Cumbria and (b) Copeland. 
Jonathan Shaw: DEFRAs current estimate of the economic cost to the GB livestock sector of the movement restrictions and the ban on exports imposed as a result of foot and mouth disease is over £100 million. Disaggregated estimates of the cost to farmers in individual counties and constituencies have not been made.
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the procedure is for monitoring groundwater levels; how frequently such monitoring is carried out; and what plans he has to increase the frequency. 
Mr. Woolas: The Environment Agency monitors groundwater levels from over 6,400 boreholes across England and Wales. These boreholes are monitored at frequencies ranging from every 15 minutes by automation to manually, either quarterly or half yearly.
The frequency of monitoring at any particular borehole is determined by the way in which the data is used and the hydro-geological setting from which it is being collected.
John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of the total costs of all Warm Front schemes were material costs in the last 12 months for which figures are available. 
Mr. Woolas: Between 1 December 2006 and 30 November 2007, 25.58 per cent. of the total costs for the Warm Front scheme were material costs.
John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in how many and what proportion of cases the cost of Warm Front work recommended exceeded the available grant (a) in Bassetlaw and (b) nationally in the latest period for which figures are available. 
Mr. Woolas: Since June 2005, 16.94 per cent. of households in England which received assistance through the Warm Front scheme were asked to pay an excess contribution.
Over the same period 22.33 per cent. of households in Bassetlaw which received Warm Front assistance were asked to pay an excess contribution.
Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what pollution incidents there were involving more than 0.01 tonnes of spillage in the Irish Sea in each year since 2003; on what date each occurred; what size the spillage was; and which company (a) reported and (b) was responsible for each incident. 
Jonathan Shaw: The Environment Agencys pollution incident database shows that there were 237 recorded incidents on or close to the Irish Sea coast between 2004 and 2006. These cover a range of incident types and severities. Not all of these spillages or releases will have entered the waters of the Irish Sea.
Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the effect of tribulyte tin from ships on the marine environment in the Irish Sea. 
The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), together with colleagues in the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development for Northern Ireland and the Fisheries Research Services in Scotland have carried out studies on the effects of tributyl tin (TBT) on dogwhelks in the seas around the UK, including the
Irish sea. The results, based on surveys between 1994 and 2003, show that effects on reproduction only appear to be significant within a few hundred metres from point source discharges of TBT.
Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what procedures are in place to monitor the effect of the tribulyte tin from ships on the marine environment in the Irish Sea. 
Jonathan Shaw: The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), together with colleagues in the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development for Northern Ireland and the Fisheries Research Services in Scotland have carried out studies on the effects of tributyl tin (TBT) on dogwhelks in the seas around the UK, including the Irish sea. The results, based on surveys between 1994 and 2003, show that effects on reproduction only appear to be significant within a few hundred metres from point source discharges of TBT.
In the UK, approval for use of tributyl tin as a biocide in antifouling systems, granted under the Food and Environment Protection Act (FEPA) or the Control of Pesticides Regulations (COPR), was revoked by the Health and Safety Executive in 2003.
Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when his next OSPAR quality status report on the Irish Sea is due; and if he will make a statement. 
Jonathan Shaw: The main joint working on the state of the Irish sea is carried out within the framework of the Oslo and Paris (OSPAR) Convention for the Protection of the North East Atlantic, where regular assessments are done, information gathered by the various organisations is brought together and assessments are made and published in the OSPAR quality status report (QSR). The last QSR was published in the year 2000, and included a regional report on the Celtic seas. The next QSR will be published in 2010.
Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what mechanisms are in place to ensure that meat is not imported from countries which are experiencing problems with foot and mouth disease; and if he will make a statement. 
Jonathan Shaw: Controls on imports of meat are laid down in European Community legislation. Imports are permitted from certain countries where foot and mouth disease (FMD) is present, but only where the disease is restricted to specific areas. In such cases, imports are only permitted from parts of the country that are free of disease or under strict conditions to ensure the meat does not come from any animal that may have come in contact with FMD before, during or after slaughter. These provisions are in line with guidelines established by the Office International des Epizooties (OIE), the world animal health organisation.
All meat imported from third countries must be accompanied by appropriate veterinary certification. It must enter at designated Border Inspection Posts where checks are carried out to ensure that import conditions have been met. All consignments are subject to identity and documentary checks and at least 20 per cent. of consignments undergo a physical check.
If an EU country experiences an outbreak of FMD, meat from that country can only be traded if it meets certain conditions laid down in Community law in relation to the origin and/or processing of the meat. Community law also allows Member States to take appropriate safeguard action, which may include a ban on imports of meat from all, or parts of, EU and third countries where FMD is present.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many letters his Department received from hon. Members and Peers in each session of Parliament since 1997. 
Jonathan Shaw: On an annual basis the Cabinet Office publishes a report to Parliament on the performance of Departments in replying to Members and Peers correspondence. Information relating to 2007 will be published as soon as it has been collated. The report for 2006 was published on 28 March 2007, Official Report, columns 101-04WS. Reports for earlier years are available in the Libraries of the House.
John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many mushroom composting plants there are in England. 
Jonathan Shaw: There are three firms in England producing spawned compost for mushroom growers.
Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans his Department has to make use of data on the national identity register when it is established; and what the estimated cost to his Department of that use is. 
Jonathan Shaw: DEFRA will be working with the Home Office prior to the introduction of the national identity scheme to establish how identity information held on the proposed national identity register might be used to provide easier access to DEFRA's services for our customers. It is too early in the process to establish the detailed costs and benefits.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what proportion and volume of household waste collected for recycling was sent (a) overseas and (b) to China, for processing in the latest period for which figures are available. 
Joan Ruddock: Where non-hazardous wastes (such as separated recyclables) are exported, they are generally subject only to commercial controls and not to the prior notification and consent procedures which apply to exports of hazardous wastes. Precise data on the amounts and destinations of exported recyclables are not, therefore, available.
However, HM Revenue and Customs' indicative overseas trade statistics indicate that, of the waste metal, paper, plastic and glass cullet and their associated scraps exported from the UK in 2006, 19 per cent. were destined for China. The tonnages for China that year were estimated at 2,400,000 against a figure for all exports of 12,700,000.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of performance against targets set for local authorities on recycling and composting, in each year since 2000-01. 
Joan Ruddock: Recycling and composting targets for household waste were set for each local authority in England for 2003-04, 2005-06 and 2007-08. Performance against the targets is measured by adding together recycling and composting rates under best value performance indicators 82a (household waste the local authority sends for recycling) and 82b (waste sent by the authority to composting or anaerobic digestion).
261 (66 per cent.) authorities met or exceeded their individual targets in 2005-06; while in 2003-04, 224 authorities (57 per cent.) met their individual targets.
Individual local authorities best value performance indicators are available on the Audit Commission website (www.audit-commission.gov.uk) or via the Communities and Local Government's best value website (www.bvpi.gov.uk). Statistical data relating to national recycling performance are available on the DEFRA website. England's household recycling and composting rates for years from 2000-01 are as follows:
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