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This information has been drawn from records held by the former Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (covering the financial years 1996-97 to 2000-01) and this Department from 2001-02 to the present. No information is available for losses incurred by the former Department of Environment.
Anne Main: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many residential properties are owned by his Department; how many of these are vacant; and how many have been vacant for longer than (a) three months, (b) six months and (c) 12 months. 
Jonathan Shaw: The Department currently owns 91 dwellings of which nine dwellings, surplus to operational requirements, are vacant as at 10 March. Of the nine vacant dwellings, eight are vacant as a consequence of being sold subject to contract and one is being offered for sale.
The number of dwellings falling in to the vacancy periods are (a) five dwellings have been vacant in excess of three months (b) two dwellings have been vacant in excess of six months and (c) two dwellings have been vacant in excess of 12 months. The remaining two vacant dwellings have been unoccupied for less than three months.
Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the effects of oil and gas exploration in the Moray Firth on bottlenose dolphin populations. 
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs with reference to the comments of the Minister for Sustainable Food and Farming and Animal Health on 30 January 2008, Official Report, House of Lords, column 711W, in what circumstances the Government will come back to Parliament to amend the revenue-neutrality condition. 
Joan Ruddock: The Government currently have no plans to come back to Parliament to amend the revenue-neutrality condition. We believe that our proposals for a revenue-neutral scheme are the right way forward.
However, even though it is a low possibility, we think it is sensible to have the flexibility to amend the legislation in the light of experience with the pilots and on an ongoing basis if we make the powers more widely available in the future. The affirmative resolution procedure offers strong accountability and reflects the importance we attach to the revenue-neutrality condition.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether properties with a class H council tax exemption will be liable for the new charges for the collection of household waste in areas where the charges are being introduced. 
Properties with a class H council tax exemption are unoccupied dwellings held for Ministers of Religion. The exact details of how a scheme operatesincluding which households in an area are coveredwould be up to the local authorities coming forward to run pilots to decide. However, where domestic properties are not occupied, one would not expect household waste to be generated or collected and, therefore, it would be unlikely that waste incentives would apply.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how the new charges for the collection of household waste will be levied on (a) student halls of residence, (b) houses of multiple occupancy and (c) blocks of flats with communal waste bins or chutes. 
As with many of the powers that councils have in relation to local services, it will be up to individual authorities, working with their communities, to decide which households a pilot scheme should cover. This includes whether or not to cover flats, student halls of residence, multiple occupancy accommodation or where householders have communal bins.
The Climate Change Bill states that pilot authorities will be required to take account of the needs of potentially disadvantaged groups in devising and running waste incentive schemes. They may, for example, wish to make special provision for some groups, or exempt them from the scheme altogether. We will be working with stakeholders to develop guidance for local authorities on this.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many waste collection authorities have (a) closed lid policies and (b) no side waste collection policies, for the collection of household waste. 
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what (a) estimate of the level of fly-tipping and (b) assessment of trends in the incidence of fly-tipping the Environment Agency made in each of the last five years. 
Joan Ruddock: The following table shows the summary totals of fly-tipping incidents reported to Flycapture by local authorities and the Environment Agency in England for the three years for which data are available.
|Year||Total local authority incidents||Change on previous year (percentage)||Total Environment Agency incidents||Change on previous year (percentage)|
A possible reason for the rise in fly-tipping offences recorded by Flycapture in its second and third years may simply be due to better reporting and a rise in the number of local authorities in England submitting regular returns. In the first year only 174 of the 354 authorities provided a full year of data returns. In 2006-07, this number rose to 323.
Since April 2005, the Environment Agency has refocused its resources at tackling the more serious and organised illegal waste dumping crimes while local authorities tackle the high numbers of small scale fly-tipping. This is reflected in a decrease in the number of incidents the Environment Agency has tackled in the last three years.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) pursuant to the answer of 4 March 2008, Official Report, column 2281W on mauve stingers, to which types of jellyfish blooms the UK is vulnerable; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) pursuant to the answer of 4 March 2008, Official Report, column 2281W, on mauve stingers, what assessment he has made of whether climate change has made the UK more vulnerable to mauve stingers; and if he will make a statement; 
(4) pursuant to the answer of 4 March 2008, Official Report, column 2281W, on mauve stingers, on which occasions mauve stingers have affected the UK aquaculture sector; and if he will make a statement. 
(a) Mauve stinger Pelagia noctiluca
(b) Compass jellyfish Chrysaora hysoscella
(c) Lion's mane jellyfish Cyanea capillata
(d) Blue jellyfish Cyanea lamarckii
(e) Moon jellyfish Aurelia aurita
(f) Barrel jellyfish Rhizostoma octopus
Mauve stingers are oceanic and occur in coastal waters only occasionally. Little is known about the temporal and spatial patterns of occurrence for mauve stingers. The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) have awarded a short-term (6-month) urgency award to Swansea university to assess the overall extent of mauve stinger occurrence in the Irish sea and adjacent waters during the winter of 2007-08.
The last two decades have seen increasing water temperatures around the UK and as mauve stingers have a predominantly southern distribution (e.g. being highly abundant in the Mediterranean) we might thus expect increasing bloom formation around the UK coast.
The problems with fish damage and mortalities due to influx of jellyfish swarms are well known to the finfish aquaculture industry, and to their insurers. In the UK and Ireland, Mauve stingers and other oceanic jellyfish such as Solmaris corona, along with some common coastal species such as the moon jellyfish Aurelia, are known to have caused significant mortalities of farmed fish. The problem is a global one for marine fish farmers. Although the industry has developed some ways to manage and mitigate the risks and effects of toxic plankton, these are not always effective with large swarms of jellyfish that can appear suddenly on one tide and disappear on the next, or may persist for days or weeks.
|Number of affected sites||Number of fish killed||Biomass lost (Tonnes)|
It is important to note that as the aquaculture industry has developed since the mid nineteen eighties they increasingly use commercial fish vets and their own labs to investigate such incidents which are not notifiable under statute.
Hugh Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many people were (a) prosecuted for and (b) convicted of trading in endangered species in each year since the new legislation on such trading was introduced. 
Joan Ruddock [holding answer 14 March 2008]: The number of defendants proceeded against at magistrates courts and found guilty at all courts for offences under the Control of Trade in Endangered Species (Enforcement) Regulations 1997 in England and Wales for the years 2000 to 2006, is shown in the following table.
|Proceeded against||Found guilty|
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