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Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what consideration her Department has given to the merits of low-cost ultra-light rail fuelled by biomethane made locally from anaerobically digested organic waste; and if she will make a statement. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: The Department has not made such an assessment. We are aware of the claims made for the potential benefits of ultra light rail, but in order to properly assess these, we would need to see a business case supporting its application in a specific location. Local authorities are welcome to submit innovative proposals to the Department for funding as pilot or demonstration schemes within the major scheme funding regime. During 2006, the Department part-funded a research project to assess the potential role of biomethane as a renewable transport fuel, although this did not examine its potential in ultra light rail specifically. A copy of this report has been made available in the House Libraries.
Mr. Newmark: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which projects in Braintree constituency have been funded by the aggregates levy sustainability fund; and what the value is of each project. 
|Aggregates levy sustainability fund projects in Essex|
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Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much and what proportion of the expected costs of animal disease and welfare will fall upon the (a) public purse and (b) farmers under cost-sharing arrangements for each year of the comprehensive spending review period. 
Jonathan Shaw [holding answer 5 February 2008]: It is not possible to provide such a breakdown, as the costs to industry and Government will vary. As part of the CSR 07 settlement the Government are committed to reducing DEFRAs animal health and welfare budget by £121 million by 2010-11. This is being achieved through a combination of efficiency savings at no additional cost to the industry; and transfers and charges in full or in part for activities and services which are of direct benefit to the industry whether individually or collectively.
Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether estimated savings in 2010-11 from cost-sharing in relation to animal disease and welfare include income from levies imposed on the farming industry for the control of exotic diseases. 
Jonathan Shaw [holding answer 5 February 2008]: No. We do not anticipate that legislation to facilitate the introduction of other revenue raising mechanisms as part of the wider responsibility and cost sharing agenda for animal health and welfare will be in place before the end of the current CSR settlement period. We are currently consulting on the broad means by which full responsibility and cost sharing might be introduced, with a view to consulting by the end of the year on specific proposals for the establishment of responsibility and cost sharing.
Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on what financial basis and assumptions an annual saving of £121 million by 2011 from cost-sharing for animal disease control and welfare was calculated. 
Jonathan Shaw [holding answer 5 February 2008]: An annual saving of £121 million by 2010-11 represents the proportion of the Departments CSR settlement which falls on the Animal Health and Welfare budget. This is being achieved through a combination of efficiency savings at no additional cost to the industry; and transfers and charges in full or in part for activities and services which are of direct benefit to the industry whether individually or collectively.
Jonathan Shaw: DEFRA has placed an order with Intervet for 22.5 million doses of vaccine for use against bluetongue serotype 8 (BTV-8), the strain currently in circulation in parts of East and South East England. 20 million doses are reserved for use in England and 2.5 million doses are reserved for potential use in Wales. The UK was the first member state affected by BTV-8 to place an order for vaccine and Intervet has indicated that vaccine will begin to be available from May.
A vaccination delivery plan was published on 18 February and is available on the DEFRA website. It sets out how livestock keepers in the Protection Zone will be able to purchase doses from a vaccine bank through their private vets once vaccine is available. Depending on vaccine availability and the disease situation, once vaccination is progressing broadly across the Protection Zone, the intention is to extend or modify the zone in order to permit further vaccination. This will allow a phased approach as vaccine is delivered.
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department takes to manage health risks associated with animals which are smuggled into the UK. 
Jonathan Shaw: DEFRA, the devolved Administrations and Animal Health publicise the requirements for animals entering the country, including the possible disease consequences of failure to adhere to import requirements. Animal Health carry out checks at ports, as do other bodies. Carriers authorised under the Pet Travel scheme (PETS) are required to be vigilant and take steps to prevent illegal imports. We also receive information from private vets. Animal Health takes action to deal with health risks from illegally imported animals, which may include isolation, return to the country of origin or destruction.
Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much was spent on the protection of badgers in Devon in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement. 
Badgers, including those in Devon, are specifically protected under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992. They are also protected from harm and ill treatment, along with other species, by a range of additional legislation. DEFRA is responsible for policy relating to the Protection of Badgers Act in England, but this is only one part of its wider responsibility for policy relating to wildlife legislation.
Jonathan Shaw: On 15 February we issued a notice under the Fish Health Regulations 1997, controlling the movement of molluscan shellfish from the north Kent coast. This followed confirmation of the presence of the parasite bonamia ostreae in a bed of native oysters.
The area subject to movement controls has been selected to ensure maximum protection against any further spread of the disease. Bonamia ostreae causes the serious disease bonamiosis in native oyster stocks, but does not have any clinical effect on any other species of shellfish. The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) will be monitoring the extent and effect of the disease in the controlled area.
It is not expected that the controls, which apply to movements of shellfish for the purposes of relaying or re-immersion in the aquatic environment, will interfere with current commercial activity. Bonamiosis has no implications for human health, and native oysters from this area can still be eaten.
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