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3 Apr 2008 : Column 1162W—continued

Fairtrade Initiative

Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will take steps to promote Fair Trade Fortnight 2008 among staff within his Department; and if he will make a statement. [189509]

Jonathan Shaw: Fairtrade Fortnight 2008 was promoted across DEFRA through the intranet and staff restaurants.

Flood Control: Finance

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) pursuant to the answer of 13 March 2008, Official Report, column
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400W, on what additional funding he is providing for the implementation of Sir Michael Pitt's recommendations beyond that allocated to the Environment Agency for flood defence work in 2008-09; [197750]

(2) how the figure of £34.5 million was decided upon as an initial provision needed to implement Sir Michael Pitt's recommendations; [197751]

(3) what budgetary provision has been made for financing the final recommendations of Sir Michael Pitt once they have been published; [197752]

(4) what steps his Department has taken to prepare to implement the final recommendations of Sir Michael Pitt in a timely manner once they have been published. [197753]

Mr. Woolas: As announced by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in his written ministerial statement of 4 February 2008, Official Report, column 50WS, an initial provision of £34.5 million has been set aside to fund work arising from the Pitt Review. This decision was discussed at the EFRA Committee on 6 February 2008. Not all the recommendations from the review are expected to be for Government to address. The funding allocated so far will not necessarily cover all the recommendations, and is subject to further consideration. We will determine how this should be spent when we see Sir Michael's final report and the priorities it contains.

We look forward to Sir Michael's final report and recommendations. As always my Department stands ready to play its part in such actions as the Government subsequently decides.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has had with Natural England on opportunities for using land for water storage to prevent flooding elsewhere; and whether the single farm payment can be used for such purposes. [198106]

Mr. Woolas: In areas where flood risk needs to be managed, a range of options are always considered, including flood storage. Suggestions that farmers be paid to store flood water and other novel approaches to flood risk management can be considered within Environment Agency Catchment Flood Management Plans. Such an approach would be welcome if it secured the necessary flood management benefits.

Floods: Finance

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans he has to improve the resilience of local authorities to surface water flooding in light of the Pitt recommendations following the floods in summer 2007. [197970]

Mr. Woolas: We are currently consulting on how to improve surface water management as part of the Government's Water Strategy, ‘Future Water’. This provides a vehicle to take forward some of the key recommendations outlined in Sir Michael Pitt's interim report on the summer 2007 floods.

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The consultation looks at the role of local authorities both in relation to co-ordinating the production of Surface Water Management Plans and in promoting the use of sustainable drainage systems.

Floods: Housing

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what proportion of (a) proposed new and (b) existing homes in the Thames Gateway Interim plan area are within areas vulnerable to flooding. [197242]

Mr. Woolas: There are currently 130,000 homes in the defended tidal and fluvial floodplain, representing approximately 25 per cent. of the total homes within the Gateway.

The Thames Gateway Delivery Plan proposes 160,000 new homes for the Thames Gateway by 2016. The plan sets out the broad areas of development for new homes and the Environment Agency estimates that more than 50 per cent. will be in the defended tidal and fluvial floodplains.

Government Departments: Carbon Emissions

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps the Government have taken to cut carbon dioxide emissions across Whitehall. [198541]

Mr. Woolas: On 18 March, the Government published their response to the Sustainable Development Commission’s latest assessment of Sustainable Development in Government 2007. This response reports on actions taken and planned, centrally and by individual departments, to achieve the sustainable operations targets for the government estate, which include targets to reduce carbon emissions.

The central actions taken include:

The Government’s response is available on the Cabinet Office website:

Heating: EC Law

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will bring forward proposals for a system of grading heating
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controls according to their energy efficiency to meet the requirements of the Energy-using Products Directive. [196190]

Joan Ruddock: The Government encourage the use of heating controls and the installation of a minimum set of controls is a requirement of our Building Regulations. Nevertheless, the current consultation paper on improving the energy performance of domestic heating and hot water systems sets out indicative targets for better use of existing heating controls and advance controls.

In discussions on the Energy-using Products Directive, the Government have asked the Commission to consider a system whereby heating installers would be provided with information on the performance of individual system components, including controls, together with an indication of the performance of these components in a system.

Home Energy Efficiency Scheme

Mr. Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what procedures are in place to ensure that work carried out by firms under the Warm Front scheme is of a satisfactory standard. [197040]

Mr. Woolas: Prior to registration as a Warm Front installer, interested parties must meet stringent selection criteria.

Eaga also use a vendor-rating system to assess contractors against, as well as operational, financial and health and safety audits carried out twice yearly. Contractors who irreversibly fall short of these standards can be removed from the Warm Front scheme.

In addition to these processes, my Department employs independent quality assessors to perform six-monthly audits of scheme delivery to assess standards of workmanship and customer service.

Horses: Disease Control

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the potential for cases of African horse sickness to arise in England. [197998]

Jonathan Shaw: African horse sickness is included in the Specified Diseases (Notification and Slaughter) Order 1992, to implement the slaughter requirements of EU Council Directive 92/35/EEC, which lays down control rules and measures to combat the disease. Imported horses from at-risk countries outside the EU are routinely tested for African horse sickness which minimizes any likelihood of the disease arising in the UK.

A “Strategy for the control of an outbreak of African horse sickness” is being produced by a working group under the chairmanship of the Horse Trust. DEFRA is one of the main contributors and promoters of this strategy. Working group members included representatives from the equine industry, academia, research organisations and DEFRA.

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Incinerators: Pollution

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what steps his Department is taking to monitor particles derived from the incineration of waste; [197833]

(2) whether his Department plans to extend the monitoring of particles produced by incineration of waste to include smaller particles. [197836]

Jonathan Shaw: Operators of incineration plants are required to install continuous emission monitors (CEMs) for specified key emissions including particulates. The CEMs undergo daily internal calibration checks and a mandatory independent quality assurance check in accordance with the relevant British Standard. Operators provide the Environment Agency with records of each measured daily average for particulates. These monitors record emissions of all particles (PM10) below 10 micrometres, which include those below 2.5 micrometres (PM25) as a sub-set.

Concentrations of particles in ambient air are monitored by the national Automatic Urban and Rural Network. PM25 is monitored in a small number of locations around the United Kingdom, although this number is increasing substantially. Data from these locations are publicly available from the UK Air Quality Archive website.

There is no credible evidence to suggest that modern incinerators—which must comply with stringent EU emission limits—cause health effects, beyond those which could be attributed to similarly sized “conventional” combustion plant. A survey carried out in 2005 for DEFRA, and peer-reviewed by the Royal Society, endorsed this view, with the Royal Society declaring that health risks associated with incineration were “small in relation to other known risks”. This view is also reflected in a supportive statement by the Health Protection Agency.

Ipsos MORI

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what payments (a) his Department and (b) its agencies have made to Ipsos MORI in the last 24 months; and for what purposes. [193891]

Jonathan Shaw: From information held centrally, the core-Department made no payments to Ipsos Mori in financial years 2005-06 and 2006-07. Financial systems record one invoice for £1,210.80 in July 2007 charged to the exhibits and exhibitions account. Additionally, between March and July 2007, Ipsos Mori undertook a survey commissioned from the Central Office of Information (CoI) by DEFRA on the Public Sector Food Procurement Initiative (PSFPI) and its communication to schools and local authorities. The cost of this work was £53,500, paid by DEFRA to the CoI.

Local Government: Climate Change

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent steps the Government has taken to assist local authorities in tackling climate change. [198540]

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Mr. Woolas: The new Local Government Performance Framework for England includes an appropriate focus on climate change, with Indicators on mitigation and adaptation.

DEFRA and Communities and Local Government jointly launched a new £4 million best practice programme to provide support to local authorities to allow them to provide effective delivery against the new climate change requirements of the performance framework. Delivery bodies such as the Carbon Trust, Salix Finance and the Energy Saving Trust also offer advice, support and Government funding on reducing emissions. To support private and public sector organisations in assessing the risks and opportunities of unavoidable climate change and planning their own adaptation strategies, the UK Climate Impacts Programme (UKCIP) was set up in 1997, funded by DEFRA.

We are also working to ensure that other policies relevant to local authorities—such as planning policy statements and guidance—reflect the need to address the risks and impacts of climate change.

Northern Rock: Environment Protection

Mr. Maude: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the Northern Rock bank is subject to the provisions of the Environmental Information Regulations. [198222]

Joan Ruddock: Northern Rock bank is not subject to the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 as it does not fall under Regulation 2 (2).

Article 18 of the Northern Rock plc Transfer Order 2008 SI No. 432 deems Northern Rock not to be a publicly-owned company for the purposes of section 3(1)(b) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and nor is it performing a function of public administration.

I refer the right hon. Member to the answer given on 21 February 2008, Official Report, columns 634-37.

Recycling: Batteries

Mrs. Hodgson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what support is available to local authorities who want to increase levels of battery recycling; [196338]

(2) what plans he has to increase levels of battery recycling; and if he will make a statement. [196344]

Joan Ruddock: We have recently consulted on the transposition of the EU Batteries Directive. When transposed, the directive will reduce the quantity of hazardous and non hazardous waste batteries going to landfill and increase the recovery of the materials they contain. Collection targets set by the directive for portable batteries are 25 per cent. by 2012, rising to 45 per cent. by 2016. The prohibition on incinerating or landfilling industrial and automotive batteries implies a 100 per cent. collection and recycling target for these batteries. The consultation closed on 13 March.

We are in the process of analysing the responses to the consultation. We will publish a summary prior to the second consultation later this year.

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Research and trials to provide evidence for the consultation and to investigate the best ways of implementing the Batteries Directive have been carried out on portable batteries. The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) has been working in partnership with a range of local authorities and not-for-profit organisations that already run recycling collection services to pilot portable waste battery collection trials in the UK. Trials include establishing ‘drop off’ points at supermarkets, as well as other methods of collection such as at the kerbside.

Supported by funding from DEFRA and the devolved administrations, the trials form part of a wider effort to develop cost-effective ways for the UK to meet the targets of the Batteries Directive. The results of the various trials will be published later this month, and these will be used to help Government and batteries producers identify the best methods of collecting batteries to meet the directive’s targets.

It is important to stress the fact that under the Batteries Directive, which is a Producer Responsibility Directive, responsibility for the collection, treatment and recycling of waste batteries will lie with the producers of batteries. In order to fulfil their obligations, they may need to engage with local authorities to improve their collection network. Therefore, when the directive is enforced, local authorities wishing to increase the level of the batteries recycled will need to make contractual agreements with the compliance scheme or schemes representing producers of batteries in the UK.

Mrs. Hodgson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of batteries were recycled in each (a) local authority area and (b) constituency in each of the last five years. [196339]

Joan Ruddock: There has been no legislative requirement for waste household batteries to be separately collected and detailed statistics have not therefore been collected.

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