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18 Feb 2008 : Column 263W—continued


This includes communications on a wide range of matters, much of it necessary or beneficial to the public and the wide range of industries in which DEFRA has an interest, together with local government, voluntary organisations and other bodies.

Individual records of spend for DEFRA’s non-departmental public bodies, agencies and financially sponsored organisations are not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental E-mail

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will take steps to reduce the number of hard copies of e-mails printed by officials in his Department. [179475]

Jonathan Shaw: DEFRA is continually looking at ways to improve its operational performance to meet its commitments as part of the Sustainable Operations on the Government Estate (SOGE) targets. The SOGE targets include a requirement for Departments to reduce their waste arisings by 5 per cent. by 2010 and by 25 per cent. by 2020—relative to 2004-05 levels; and to increase their recycling figures to 40 per cent. of their waste arisings by 2010 and to 75 per cent. of their waste by 2020.

DEFRA makes full use of technology to enable staff to avoid using paper unnecessarily. The weekly electronic office notices have provided guidance for staff in the following areas:

The Department continues to move towards the use of accredited shared drives and electronic filing systems, greatly reducing the need for hard copy documents. As part of the moves towards a ‘smart working’ environment, the principles of operating a clear desk policy further encourage staff to reduce any unnecessary printing.


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Departmental Freedom of Information

Mr. Denis Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many requests were made to his Department under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 in each year since 2005; and how many requests were refused. [183753]

Jonathan Shaw: The Government have published two annual reports that contain statistical information about how many requests have been received by monitored bodies (including central Government Departments) and how many have been refused.

These reports can be found at the following address:

Data is currently being collected across monitored bodies in order to produce the 2007 annual report and Q4 monitoring report, however, Q1-Q3 monitoring reports of 2007 can be found at the following address:

Departmental Recycling

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what his Department's policy is on recycling. [174402]

Jonathan Shaw: DEFRA had a recycling rate of 47 per cent. in 2005-06, so have met the 2010 target. There has been continuing work on improving these rates since then with a focus on improving recycling facilities across the whole of the DEFRA network estate (including agencies). These measures have ensured that we will have increased our rate in the 2006-07 SDIG report due for publication by the SDC in March 2008.

However, DEFRA is not complacent about this achievement and will now be exploring ways to continue to improve the rate. For example, over the next couple of months, we will be implementing a scheme in the core-DEFRA buildings in London to remove general waste bins from desks, requiring people to sort their waste into central recycling points around the buildings.

Environment Agency: Manpower

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many staff were employed by the Environment Agency in each of the last five years; and how many of these were occupied with flood protection, flood prevention and flood defence in each year. [184029]

Mr. Woolas: The following table shows the total number of Environment Agency staff and the number of flood risk management within the Environment Agency in each of the last five years.


18 Feb 2008 : Column 265W
Total number of Environment Agency staff Number of Environment Agency flood risk management staff

2002-03

10,745

4,129

2003-04

11,296

4,341

2004-05

11,800

4,534

2005-06

12,000

4,596

2006-07

12,398

4,748


Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many staff are employed by the Environment Agency; and how many are expected to be employed in each of the next three years. [186380]

Mr. Woolas: At the end of January 2008, the Environment Agency employed 11,772 full-time equivalent (FTE) staff.

The Environment Agency’s corporate plan is due to be approved by the board in March 2008 and this will indicate staffing levels for the next three years.

Fisheries: Nature Conservation

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he expects to agree a contract to provide aerial surveillance for fisheries protection over the next five years; and if he will make a statement. [186009]

Jonathan Shaw: The present contract for aerial surveillance will cease in March 2009. The future requirements and arrangements for aerial surveillance are currently being considered by the Marine and Fisheries Agency.

Fishing Industry: Quotas

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what (a) percentage and (b) number of 10 metre and under vessels were actively fishing against quota in 2007; and if he will make a statement. [186010]

Jonathan Shaw: The latest information available on activity by UK vessels during 2007 indicates that 3,353 vessels of 10 metre and under length reported landings of fish during 2007. Of these, 1,968 vessels reported landings of stocks subject to quota, which is 38 per cent. of the total number of these vessels on the UK fishing vessel register, as at 1 January 2008.

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the amount of fish discarded by 10 metre and under vessels because of being over-quota in the last 12 months; and if he will make a statement. [186011]

Jonathan Shaw: Estimates of the level of fish discards are made by scientists involved in the assessment of the state of fish stocks. However, these are made at the level of the overall fish stock rather than for individual segments of the fleet. In addition, such estimates are not made for the full range of fish stocks caught by the 10 metre and under fleet. As such, the information requested is not available.


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Fishing Industry: Waste Disposal

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) whether the European Commission’s Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee on Fisheries has assessed any UK fishery in relation to its viability for a discard ban; and if he will make a statement; [186077]

(2) what discussions he has had with representatives of the fishing industry about the implications of the proposals outlined in the Commission Communication COM (2007) 136; and if he will make a statement; [186078]

(3) what recent discussions he has had with (a) the European Commission and (b) other EU member states on the proposals in Commission Communication COM (2007) 136; and if he will make a statement; [186079]

(4) when he expects the European Commission to publish the timetable for introducing a discard ban; and if he will make a statement. [186083]

Jonathan Shaw: DEFRA conducted a public consultation on the Commission’s discards proposals in 2007, and shared our views, and the salient points from the consultation with the Commission at various community fora. DEFRA officials also met with representatives of the industry. The views of a number of UK organisations are reflected in the subsequent North Sea Regional Advisory Council’s (RAC) response. This is available on the North sea RAC website at:

With regard to discussions I have had with the European Commission and EU member states on the Commission Communication Com (2007) 136, I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 12 December 2007, Official Report, columns 706-07W. The Council’s conclusions were agreed and circulated in May 2007 (9891/07 PECHE 163).

DEFRA is not aware that the European Commission’s Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee on Fisheries (STECF) has assessed any UK fishery in relation to its viability for a discard ban. The issue of discards is a known priority for the European Commission, and proposals that will make a contribution to addressing the problem are expected to be made in 2008. However, we are not aware that the Commission will make a single proposal for an EU-wide ban on discards.

Instead, the Commission is likely to propose measures tailored to regional and biological circumstances, sometimes as part of broader initiatives. The UK Government expect draft provisions regarding discards to be included in a range of forthcoming proposals, including cod recovery and technical conservation.

While awaiting the Commission’s proposals, DEFRA continues to engage with the industry in progressing work on a number of initiatives aimed at reducing discards. These include: the Irish Sea Data Enhancement Project; Gear Selectivity Trials conducted by the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) scientists; and, as part of the 2008 Total Allowable Catches (TACs) and quota regime, the introduction of real time closures and other technical measures to help reduce discards of cod and whiting.


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Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what level of fish discards of each species there was as a result of the North Sea Nephrops Discard Pilot Project; and if he will make a statement. [186080]

Jonathan Shaw: The aim of the North Sea Nephrops Pilot Discard Reduction Project was to develop modifications to the fishing gears used which might allow fishermen to continue to catch their target fish while simultaneously reducing discard levels. Fishermen played an active role in constructing and testing a variety of modified trawls. Discards in this fishery are primarily juvenile cod, haddock and whiting, which are caught alongside the Nephrops.

A series of five peer-reviewed scientific papers detailing this work have since been published, and can be found on the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) website at:

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what level of fish discards of each species there was as a result of the Irish Sea Discard Pilot Project; and if he will make a statement; [186081]

(2) how much by catch of each species was discarded for being (a) over quota, (b) juvenile and (c) of low market value in the latest period for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. [186082]

Jonathan Shaw: Although quantities of fish discarded are recorded by scientific observers on randomly selected fishing vessels operating from UK ports, fishermen are not required to declare the reasons for discarding and hence, the figures and information requested are not available.

The initial phase of the Irish Sea Data Enhancement Pilot has recently been completed and the European Commission's Scientific, Economic and Technical Committee for Fisheries (STECF) has approved the methodology used in the pilot. To ensure that the data collected from the pilot are consistent with existing national programmes, data are being cross-checked against discard observer data collected from vessels in the same fishery. This validation process is essential to ensure that the estimates of discards that result from the project are both realistic and representative. An interim report from the project, which will include a detailed analysis of discarding in the Irish sea, is scheduled for submission to STECF in June.

Flood Control

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what additional flood defences have started to be constructed since the floods in summer 2007; [185616]

(2) how much has been spent on new flood defences since the floods in the summer of 2007. [185617]

Mr. Woolas: Following the summer 2007 floods the Environment Agency continued to carry out feasibility studies to consider the viability of proposed new flood defence schemes, which look to reduce flood risk where it is cost-effective, practical and environmentally
18 Feb 2008 : Column 268W
appropriate. The schemes shown in the table are Environment Agency approved Fluvial and Tidal Projects, with estimated expenditure over £1 million in 2007-08.

EA region Project Estimate of expenditure in 2007-08 (£ million)

Anglian

Cut Off Channel Bridges

1.6

Anglian

Broadland PPP Contract

10.2

Midlands

West Bridgford

2.8

Midlands

Keadby Pumping Station

1.0

Midlands

Hereford (Belmont)

4.0

Midlands

River Derwent (Derby)

1.0

Midlands

Gainsborough

4.0

North East

Cockshaw Burn (Hexham)

2.4

North East

Selby Tidal Defences

3.4

North West

Lower Lancaster Phase 2

1.5

North West

River Eden/Petteril Flood Defences, Carlisle

3.8

North West

Carlisle City and Caldew

1.2

North West

Altmouth Pumping Station

2.0

Southern

Lymington River Flood Alleviation Scheme

3.5

South West

St. Ives

5.3

South West

Boscastle—Valency Phase 3

4.8

Thames

Thames Barrier, programmed replacements

1.7

Thames

Dartford Creek Frontage

1.5

Thames

Isle of Dogs Embayment

2.0

Thames

Queenhithe Wharf Frontage

1.2

Total

58.9


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