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Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much and what proportion of the revenue from the landfill tax was distributed as grants to relevant organisations in the last year for which figures are available. 
The forecast landfill tax receipts for 2007-08 are £0.9 billion(1). Landfill tax was designed to be revenue neutral. To date, the tax yield has been recycled by a 0.2 percentage point reduction in employers national insurance contributions, and since 2005-06 by public spending (DEFRAs Business Resource Efficiency and Waste Programme in England). DEFRA have allocated £125 million to the Business Resource Efficiency and Waste Programme in 2007-08.
(1) Further details are published in table B8 of the 2007 pre-Budget report and comprehensive spending review available at http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/media/F/9/pbr_csr07_annexb_305.pdf
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the Environment Agencys criteria for determining the watercourses it is responsible for maintaining. 
Mr. Woolas: The Environment Agency has permissive powers to undertake works to manage flood risk on watercourses designated as main by the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs under the Water Resources Act 1991. Internal drainage boards have similar powers for other, ordinary, watercourses in areas of special drainage need and local authorities for ordinary watercourses outside internal drainage districts. Watercourses are designated as main (enmained) in general if they create significant flood risk. An exercise to establish which of the remaining ordinary watercourses created the greatest flood risk resulted in 1,800 watercourse lengths being enmained between 2004 and 2006.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what consideration has been given to the merits of giving local authorities greater powers to (a) carry out routine maintenance on and (b) remove obstacles from watercourses. 
Mr. Woolas: Local authorities have permissive powers to undertake works to manage flood risk on ordinary (non-main) watercourses outside internal drainage districts under the Land Drainage Act 1991, including maintenance works and removal of obstacles. For those watercourses designated as main river, this power is vested in the Environment Agency. Watercourses are designated as main river (enmained) in general if they create significant flood risk. An exercise to establish which ordinary watercourses created the greatest flood risk resulted in 1,800 watercourse lengths being enmained between 2004 and 2006.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions (a) he and (b) Ofwat officials have had on Severn Trent plc's decisions to (i) charge for surface water drainage according to site area and (ii) withdraw exceptions for schools, hospitals, community buildings and churches. 
Mr. Woolas: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has not discussed the specific issue of surface water drainage charging in the Severn Trent region with either Ofwat or Severn Trent Water. However, there have been other more general discussions with Ofwat, during which the issue of site area-based surface water drainage charging, and rebates of charges, were considered.
Ofwat meets with water and sewerage companies annually to discuss their charges for the coming year. Ofwat has discussed area-based charging for surface water drainage for non-household customers with Severn Trent Water extensively since it was introduced for all customers in 2000-01.
During 2007, Ofwat and Severn Trent Water discussed withdrawing the current exemptions from surface water drainage charges relating to religious and community buildings (including schools and hospitals).
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what assessment he has made of problems with privately owned drains in relation to surface water flooding; 
We announced in February 2007 that private sewers and lateral drains in England draining to the public sewerage system will be transferred into the ownership of water companies. This is to ensure a more integrated management of the sewerage system and to help meet the challenges of climate change and future housing growth. It has been estimated that up to 50 per cent. of properties in England and Wales are connected to a private sewer in one form or another and are unlikely to have any kind of maintenance regime, most householders being unaware that they are responsible for them.
Mr. Salmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether any prosecutions have taken place for offences related to the protection of vole habitats under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 since 1998. 
The number of defendants proceeded against for offences under section 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 in England and Wales from 1998
to 2006 is shown in the table. The Ministry of Justice is unable to separate offences relating to the protection of vole habitats from offences against other animals listed in schedule 5 of the Act.
Mr. Salmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether any derogations have been granted from the protection afforded to vole habitats under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 since 1998. 
Joan Ruddock: Since 1998, 10 licences have been issued to disturb water voles in their place of shelter. The licences were issued for the purposes of either conservation or scientific study of the species, such as projects leading to restoration of their habitat. The 10 licences relate to four separate projects.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 17 December 2007, Official Report, column 1133W, on domestic wastes: waste disposal, whether the satisfaction survey that local authorities must carry out as part of best value performance indicators includes a requirement to assess public satisfaction with local authority waste collection services. 
BVP190aSatisfaction with household waste collection
BVP190bSatisfaction with waste recycling (local facilities)
BVP190cSatisfaction with waste disposal (local tips)
The latest national results for public satisfaction with local government and its services with trends over time, by authority type and by region for each indicator are set out in the Best Value User Satisfaction Survey 2006-07: General Survey National Report, that can be found on the Department for Communities and Local Governments website.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether members of the public will be able to make submissions to the organisation which will produce the reports to lay before Parliament under the provisions of the Climate Change Bill on the operation of the new household rubbish collection charge pilots. 
Procedural details relating to the evaluation of these pilots are not a matter for legislation and will be considered separately in due course. In general, however, we welcome the publics views on the operation of the pilots.
Paragraph 1 of proposed schedule 2AA, which sets out the rules for the schemes, allows schemes to be applied to any domestic premises within the definition given in paragraph 16 of schedule 2AA. This definition of domestic premises includes composite hereditaments, as it covers any part of a building used wholly for the purposes of living accommodation.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will designate an independent agency to undertake the reports to be laid before Parliament on the operation of the new household rubbish collection tax pilots under the provisions of the Climate Change Bill. 
Evaluation is central to proper piloting and we will be looking for the schemes to be independently evaluated. In line with standard parliamentary procedure, the legislation, however, requires the Secretary of State to lay the final report before Parliament.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the proposed power of the Secretary of State under the Climate Change Bill to (a) designate a specific area as a pilot for new household rubbish collection charges and (b) issue guidance on the administration of such a specific pilot, will require parliamentary approval by the procedure of affirmative resolution. 
Schedule 5, clause 54 of the proposed Climate Change Bill explains that an area will be designated as a pilot by designation order. It does not require parliamentary approval by affirmative resolution.
Schedule 2AA, paragraph 15 provides the Secretary of State with a power in primary legislation to issue guidance in respect of waste incentive schemes. The guidance does not require parliamentary approval by affirmative resolution. We intend to follow Cabinet Office guidance on full and proper consultation.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what technical definition he plans to use of a good recycling service to assess whether an area should participate in the proposed new households rubbish collection charge. 
Joan Ruddock: The powers provided in the Climate Change Bill will allow up to five local authorities to pilot non-revenue raising incentives schemes designed to encourage household waste minimisation and recycling.
As can be seen in the Climate Change Bill, the legislative provisions require that any pilot area has a good recycling service in place; and that this will be defined in guidance issued by the Secretary of State. We will be working with stakeholders to develop guidance on providing a good recycling service and will consult formally on this.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to what public authority or independent complaints authority individuals will be able to appeal under the household rubbish collection charge pilots decisions on liability for charges under the scheme. 
any decision affecting, directly or indirectly, that persons entitlement to a rebate or other payment, or liability to pay a charge, under the scheme.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs at what point in the financial year he expects (a) charges and (b) rebates to be made under the proposals for household rubbish collection charges. 
At what point in the financial year charges and rebates are made is a matter for any local authority piloting waste incentive schemes. They will take that decision based on what is right for their area.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has had with the Department for Communities and Local Government on (a) the use of and (b) planning for incinerators for the disposal of waste; and what his policy is on such facilities. 
Joan Ruddock: My Department has regular discussions with the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) about a wide range of issues, including sustainable waste management. Decisions on planning for residual waste treatment rest with Local Authorities rather than central Government. It is also local authorities, in conjunction with the waste industry, that build waste facilities.
The number of new incinerators built will depend on the technologies and scale of facilities chosen by local authorities. Guidance on planning for waste facilities is contained within Planning Policy Statement 10, published by CLG in July 2005.
Recycling rates are growing fast, but there will always be some wastes that cannot be recycled. 11 per cent. of waste is currently incinerated in England, but an increase is likely to be needed to be able to meet landfill directive targets, despite big improvements in waste recycling and minimisation. Recovering energy from waste (including via incineration) offers a considerable climate change benefit compared to the alternative of landfill. This is primarily through avoided landfill methane emissions, with energy generated from the biodegradable fraction of waste also offsetting fossil fuel power generation.
Hugh Bayley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what proportion of waste collected in City of York was recycled in each year since 1996-97; and what financial assistance has been provided by the Government to York for recycling in that period. 
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