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21 Jan 2008 : Column 1493W—continued

Members: Correspondence

Sir Michael Spicer: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he will reply to the letter from the hon. Member for West Worcestershire dated 19 December 2007, on flooding funding in the form of subsidies and grants for private individuals. [180320]

Mr. Woolas: The hon. Member’s letter of 19 December 2007 was transferred to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government for reply.

National Parks

Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the proportion of members of National Park boards who live within five miles of the relevant national park. [180112]


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Jonathan Shaw: No estimation has been made of the proportion of members of national park boards who live within five miles of the relevant national park.

New Forest

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the timetable is for reviewing and renewing the Minister’s Mandate for the New Forest; and if he will make a statement. [177515]

Joan Ruddock: The Minister’s Mandate for the New Forest is due for review and renewal in 2008. Since the current mandate was presented to the Forestry Commission in 1999, the New Forest has seen considerable change, not least the establishment of the New Forest national park. Any future mandate would need to take account of those changes and the new legislation and governance arrangements for the area.

Preparation of the management plan for the national park is due for completion in March 2009. The management plan will establish the framework for future actions to secure and enhance the area’s special qualities and the Forestry Commission, who are responsible for the management of 47 per cent. of the park area, will play a full part in its delivery.

Given the time scale for the preparation of the management plan, I have asked the Forestry Commission to seek views locally about whether it is better for the mandate to be reviewed in 2008 as originally intended or after the National Park Management Plan is completed. Should the review be deferred then, I would extend the existing mandate over the intervening period. Once I have received the Forestry Commission’s advice, I will write to the hon. Member.

Post Offices: Closures

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has had with (a) the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform and (b) the Post Office on the likely effect on rural and semi-rural areas of the proposed post office closures. [177876]

Jonathan Shaw: The forum for discussions and decisions on the likely effect of the proposed post office restructure in all areas, both rural and urban, is the cross-Government Ministerial Committee on the post office network (MISC33). The role of this Committee has been to allow collective consideration of, and decisions on, issues relating to the future of the post office network. DEFRA Ministers have played a full part in the work of the Committee.

Renewable Energy: Public Buildings

Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what proportion of the electricity requirements of the central Government estate were procured from renewable energy providers in the last period for which figures are available. [179813]


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Mr. Woolas: In its 2006 annual report "Sustainable Development in Government", the Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) reported that the Government estate was sourcing 23 per cent. of its electricity from renewable sources in the reporting period 2005-06. The information was compiled from information returned by Departments. The SDC's report is available on its website at: http://www.sd-commission.org.uk/sdig2006.

Rights of Way

David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many local authorities had adopted rights of way improvement plans at (a) 21 November 2007 and (b) the latest date for which information is available; and which local authorities have not yet adopted a plan. [179582]

Jonathan Shaw: By 21 November 2007, 34 out of 126 individual and joint local highway authorities had adopted rights of way improvement plans, and as at 31 December 2007 this number had not changed.

The local authorities which have not yet adopted a plan are:

North East region

North West region

Yorkshire and Humberside


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West Midlands

Eastern region

South West region

South East region

Outer London boroughs


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Waste Disposal: Domestic Wastes

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made, and what research was undertaken, by (a) his Department, (b) his consultants Eunomia and (c) the Waste Resources Action Programme into the change in the burning of household rubbish following the imposition of new bin taxes. [176548]

Joan Ruddock: Powers provided in the Climate Change Bill will allow up to five local authorities to come forward to pilot non-revenue raising incentive schemes, which are designed to encourage householders to reduce the waste they throw away and increase recycling.

My Department has not made an estimate or undertaken research into the increase in the burning of household rubbish following the introduction of pilot waste incentive schemes, nor has Eunomia undertaken work in this area for Government. As for the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), they are not responsible for research or policy on backyard burning.

Waste Disposal: Fees and Charges

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what penalties councils will be able to levy for non-payment of the proposed new charges for domestic rubbish collection. [176536]

Joan Ruddock: Powers provided in the Climate Change Bill will allow up to five local authorities to pilot non-revenue raising incentives schemes, which are designed to encourage household waste minimisation and recycling.

It is envisaged that local authorities running pilot schemes would be able to recover any money owed by residents through the courts as a civil debt.

Waste Disposal: Fly Tipping

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what his Department’s latest projection is of the likely change in fly-tipping in (a) percentage and (b) volume terms, broken down by local authority, under the plans for proposed new charges for domestic rubbish collection; [176537]

(2) what assessment has been made of the effect of higher charges for the collection and disposal of waste on levels of waste-related offences. [176565]

Joan Ruddock: My Department has made no projections for increases in fly-tipping under waste incentive schemes.


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For modelling purposes, the impact assessment for this policy assesses the possible effect of waste incentive schemes on levels of waste-related offences, and the potential costs to local authorities. The impact assessment can be found on the Department’s website.

We also think that it is sensible for pilot authorities to review their policies for tackling fly-tipping, and to have a fly-tipping prevention strategy in place. Having a strategy in place to deal with fly-tipping is good common sense for all authorities.

Evidence from other countries where similar schemes operate suggests that an increase in fly-tipping is not an automatic consequence of introducing them. Where increases in fly-tipping have been seen overseas, this quickly tails off where schemes are well designed and effective enforcement action is taken. Having a good strategy is in the first instance an important part of effective enforcement.

Further details will also be covered in guidance, which is currently being developed and will be publicly consulted on.


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