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Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Air Pollution: Peterborough

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for what reason Peterborough City Council was not selected for the air quality grant programme in each of the last three years; and if he will make a statement. [199896]

Jonathan Shaw: Local authorities are required to work towards meeting the air quality objectives in the Air Quality Regulations 2000 by designating air quality management areas where concentrations of any of the seven pollutants in the regulations exceed, or are likely to exceed, the stated objectives. To help local authorities do this, DEFRA operates an air quality grant scheme, a capital grant for which local authorities bid. The total amount of this grant, which is divided between successful authorities, is approximately £2.3 million per year. While Peterborough city council was aware of the air quality grant, the council has not applied for the past three years.

Animal Welfare: Supermarkets

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions he has had with major supermarket chains on animal welfare standards. [198105]

Jonathan Shaw: DEFRA has frequent communications with supermarkets on a wide range of issues, including animal welfare.

Animals: Disease Control

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent review he has undertaken of his Department's contingency plans, including for (a) the mobilisation of veterinary staff and (b) tackling future animal disease outbreaks. [197993]

Jonathan Shaw: DEFRA'S latest revised generic Contingency Plan for Exotic Animal Diseases for England, which includes arrangements for the mobilisation of
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veterinary staff, was laid before Parliament on 10 December 2007. The plan is amended annually (as required under the Animal Health Act 2002) and covers arrangements for dealing with a range of exotic animal diseases.

The aim is to ensure that the Government and others have contingency plans in place to deal with disease outbreaks. The effective and speedy deployment of veterinary staff and expertise has long been a prime consideration.

Dr. Iain Anderson conducted an independent review into the lessons learned from the response to the 2007 outbreak of foot and mouth disease, and the Government are considering the recommendations made. The review is published on the DEFRA website.

Animals: Imports

Mr. Morley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many cases of (a) reptiles and (b) birds being imported from (i) within and (ii) outside the European Union were recorded on the Trade Control and Export System in each year since 2000. [199531]

Joan Ruddock: The TRACES system is run by the European Commission; using the system became compulsory from the start of 2005. Records exist for 2004 though, as TRACES was not then compulsory, these are not comparable with later years.

Number of consignments recorded on TRACES for each year:
Within the EU Outside the EU

2004

Reptiles

2

89

Birds(1)

107

37

2005

Reptiles

18

233

Birds(1)

962

90

2006

Reptiles

12

248

Birds(1)

787

8

2007

Reptiles

13

289

Birds(1)

964

14

(1 )Non-poultry but includes game

Beef

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what impact assessment he has made in relation to Annex III, Section V, Chapter III, point 2 (B) of Regulation (EC) number 853/2004 and beef production in the UK. [198217]

Dawn Primarolo: I have been asked to reply.

A regulatory impact assessment (RIA) was completed as part of the Food Standards Agency's (FSA) consultation on the European Commission proposals to consolidate and simplify European Union (EU) hygiene legislation in 2004 that came into force on 1 January 2006. This covered all the proposals in the legislation, and a copy
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of the RIA has been placed in the Library and is also available from the FSA's website at:

In October 2007, as part of the FSA's proposals to adapt the EU legislation to allow the continuation of the English tradition of ageing meat that is used to produce minced meat, an impact assessment was completed. This document has been placed in the Library and also is available on the FSA's website at:

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations he has received on the proposals for the regulation of mince in Annex III, Section V, Chapter III, point 2 (B) to Regulation (EC) number 853/2004. [198219]

Dawn Primarolo: I have been asked to reply.

Regulation (EC) 853/2004 of 29 April 2004 laid down specific hygiene rules for food of animal origin and is one of three sets of food hygiene legislation that came into force on 1 January 2006. The requirements, in that legislation, regarding the production of minced meat (Annex III, Section V, Chapter III, paragraph 2(b)) are the same as those that were in force for trade between member states prior to 1 January 2006. Between March 2004 and June 2004 industry and other stakeholders were consulted on the European Commission proposals to consolidate and simplify European Union food hygiene legislation; there were 71 responses to the consultation from a range of stakeholders on all aspects of the simplification of the legislation.

Bluetongue Disease: Vaccination

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of livestock owners he estimates would take-up blue tongue vaccinations if such a programme were to be introduced. [198104]

Jonathan Shaw: Although we have made no formal estimate of likely take-up of vaccine, the advice of industry stakeholders is that take-up will be high in a voluntary scheme, especially with an active approach to promoting vaccination. As individual keepers will be responsible for the costs of vaccination, our aim, in close collaboration with a core group of industry stakeholders, has been to develop a vaccination programme which will reduce the cost of vaccination to a minimum by using existing delivery chains and reducing regulatory burdens in order to encourage maximum participation.

Carbon Emissions: Nuclear Power Stations

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the carbon dioxide output of uranium fuel for nuclear power stations will be taken into account in estimating the UK's carbon footprint. [199900]

Mr. Woolas: Carbon dioxide emissions from the production and reprocessing of nuclear fuel in the UK are taken into account in the UK Greenhouse Gas
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Inventory. Carbon dioxide emissions associated with energy use in the mining or extraction of uranium are reported in the emissions inventories of the country where the activities occur.

Catchment Sensitive Farming Project

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which (a) projects and (b) locations are part of his Department's catchment sensitive farming project. [198107]

Jonathan Shaw: The England catchment sensitive farming delivery initiative has been in place since April 2006 and is being delivered jointly by Natural England and the Environment Agency on behalf of DEFRA. It is currently based in priority catchments covering a little over a third of the agricultural area of England and its purpose is to encourage farmers to take voluntary action to tackle diffuse water pollution, mainly from nitrates, phosphorus, sediment, pesticides and livestock faeces.

The main elements of the initiative are: 40 priority catchments served by a network of 42 catchment sensitive farming officers working locally; a programme of farmer workshops, farm demonstrations and farm visits; partnership with the pesticides voluntary initiative; local catchment steering groups bringing together farmers, water companies and other stakeholders; a capital grant scheme. In its first two years the initiative also supported 20 projects, with similar aims and objectives, in other catchments.

In February 2008 DEFRA launched Future Water, the Government's new water strategy for England. This stated that DEFRA will continue to support farmers on catchment sensitive farming for a further three years. DEFRA has since confirmed that the England catchment sensitive farming delivery initiative will receive funding of £12.9 million in 2008-09. Most of the initial programme is being rolled forward for a period of six months, with a new programme planned from October.

Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether his Department has worked on research with the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy based jointly at the London School of Economics and the University of Leeds. [199697]

Mr. Woolas: DEFRA has not carried out any research with the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy. The Centre will be set up in October 2008.

Climate Change

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what his highest projection is of the average annual temperature for the UK in 2050. [199418]

Mr. Woolas: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fourth Assessment Report includes ‘high-end’ projections for global temperature rise from an ensemble of climate models. These are based on
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close to business-as-usual Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES) (for example, A2 and A1B).

Using these projections, our current best estimate for a high-end UK-wide average annual temperature increase by 2050 (relative to 1990) is approximately 1.75° C.

In general terms, there is relatively little differentiation in temperature projections at 2050, no matter what emissions scenario is chosen. However, later this century, the gap between high-end and low-end scenarios will widen.

Departmental Domestic Visits

Mr. Willis: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what visits he made to (a) Harrogate International Centre, (b) International Conference Centre, Birmingham, (c) Manchester Central, (d) Scottish Exhibitional and Conference Centre, Glasgow, (e) Edinburgh International Conference Centre, (f) Bournemouth International Conference Centre, (g) the Brighton Centre, Brighton, (h) the Riviera Centre, Torquay, (i) Queen Elizabeth Centre, London, (j) Excel Conference Centre, Docklands, London, and (k) Business Design Centre, Islington, London, in the period 1 January 2005 to 31 December 2007; and what events he attended at each. [197160]

Jonathan Shaw: It would be possible to provide the information requested only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Publications

Mr. David Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what guidance is issued to members of his Department on the authorship and publication on the internet of material relating to their official duties; and if he will make a statement. [196738]

Jonathan Shaw: The Civil Service Code, the Civil Service Management Code and Propriety Guidance on Government Communications, all provide guidance to staff on the publication of material relating to their official duties. Copies of each of these are in the Libraries of the House. They are also available on the Cabinet Office website at:

Departmental Video Conferencing

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will set a target to increase the use of video-conferencing by his Department to reduce the need to travel to meetings. [195881]

Jonathan Shaw: DEFRA is working hard to identify where we can reduce the need to travel, through the use of video conferencing and other alternatives, and when travel is necessary, to encourage staff to make the most sustainable choices.

We are working with our IT strategic supplier IBM and Tandberg to install the infrastructure necessary to make available the next breed of video conferencing services based around IP rather than ISDN telecommunication protocols and fixed v/conf studios.
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This will improve the availability, quality and mobility of the v/conf service and make it a more attractive alternative option for staff to choose when travelling to meetings would normally be required.

But we recognise it is not a panacea for all meetings. Initial contacts and team building often require physical, face-to-face meetings to ensure good team relationships are built before moving to electronic meeting spaces. We also recognise that there are other technologies that can impact on the need for meetings—e.g. a quick teleconference session can often be appropriate and sufficient if there is a single issue to resolve among a small number of people.

We will also be setting up SharePoint team spaces to provide a repository of shared resources, discussion threads and wikis etc. that should reduce the need for meetings in the first place and support the move of the core department to a more project-orientated structure.

DEFRA is looking to these new technologies to assist in meeting its new travel targets to:

More specifically we will look to see an increase in take-up and use of the new v/conf services following implementation of the new IP infrastructure, though a target has yet to be set.

You may also wish to know that DEFRA worked with IBM to produce a White Paper on methods and techniques for assessing and reducing the carbon footprint of office IT services entitled “Environmentally aware governance of the distributed IT infrastructure”. This has now received two awards—a Gold Award from BCS link:

and the European Green IT Summit Infrastructure Project of the Year award, see link:


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