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30 Apr 2008 : Column 459W—continued

Birds: Smuggling

Mr. Morley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many seizures of wild birds species not protected by the Convention
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on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora that were imported illegally were made in each year from 2000 to 2007. [202006]

Jonathan Shaw: DEFRA holds no central records of seizures of non-CITES listed animals. Seizures are made by local authorities.

Cycling

Rob Marris: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether (a) his Department and (b) his Department's non-departmental public bodies provide (i) tax-free benefits and (ii) other allowances for their staff to purchase bicycles under the Cycle to Work scheme; and if he will make a statement. [197603]

Jonathan Shaw: DEFRA offers an interest-free loan for bikes and essential equipment (CPU 5) to assist staff who wish to purchase a bicycle for travelling between home and office. Examples of essential equipment include lights; helmet; lock; pump; panniers; back pack; or waterproofs. The total loan cannot exceed £600 and is repayable over a maximum of 12 months. Casual staff and staff employed for less than three months are not eligible for this advance. An advance of salary for the purchase of a bicycle and essential equipment is classed as a beneficial loan for tax purposes.

From information held centrally we are unable to confirm arrangements for DEFRA's non-departmental public bodies.

Departmental Carbon Emissions

Mr. Maude: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many equivalent tonnes of carbon dioxide were offset (a) in total and (b) via the Government carbon offsetting funding for air flights in 2006-07 by his Department. [198221]

Mr. Woolas: The Government carbon offsetting fund's (GCOF) aim is to offset up to 305,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide predominantly from air travel, by the end of April 2009. This will be predominantly from Central Government Departments. A full list of current participants is available on the DEFRA website.

For financial year 2006-07, DEFRA will procure credits through the GCOF to offset 2,864 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) for its flights.

Dogs: Animal Welfare

Mr. MacDougall: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent estimate he has made of the extent of dog fighting; what steps are being taken to prevent dog fighting; and if he will make a statement. [202336]

Jonathan Shaw: No estimates are available of the extent of dog fighting that takes place in this country, which is an illegal activity.

The Animal Welfare Act 2006, which came into force 12 months ago, created separate offences for animal fighting and increased the maximum financial penalties available to the courts for such offences.


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Anyone found guilty of an offence related to animal fighting is liable to a maximum fine of £20,000 (previously £5,000), or six months imprisonment, or both.

Facilities Management

David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the cost to his Department was of the facilities management infrastructure in each of the last five financial years; and what it is expected to be in 2007-08. [194169]

Jonathan Shaw [holding answer 14 March 2008]: The information requested is as follows:

Although not tracked in detail until recent years, Estates have continued to deliver efficiencies and savings as part of the management of their core contracts. The realisation of savings in excess of the 5 per cent. against baselines has been a standard minimum year-on-year budget target resulting from comprehensive spending reviews (CSR).

Past savings/efficiencies have been masked by the moving size and shape of the Department and its accommodation requirement.

In 2006-07 DEFRA Estates undertook a contract realignment exercise which recorded a VFM saving with OGC of £1 million. Contract reconciliations are still in progress for the 2007-08 year, savings of £100,000 have already been identified.

All figures based on previous (DEFRA Estates Division) FM contracts which cover service provision for the core department only delivered by three main regional contracts. It should be noted in earlier years that there was some degree of localised provision and therefore not included in the contract sum totals shown.

Wider DEFRA network bodies (agencies and NDPB) have their own budgeting, finance and procurement governance. Costs attributable to these organisations are not visible to DEFRA Estates.

Flood Control

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures are available for those who have been affected by flooding to enhance protection of their properties; and what discussions he has had with (a) local authorities, (b) the Environment Agency and (c) others (i) to identify available funding for flood protection and (ii) to increase the rate of take-up. [201799]

Mr. Woolas: There are numerous ways of reducing the damage that flooding causes at individual properties. Resistance measures slow down or stop ingress of water by putting barriers across air-vents, service points and doors. Examples include door-boards, airbrick covers and one-way valves for sewage outlets. Resilience measures limit the damage and disruption that occurs when water does get in. Examples include using concrete/tiled floors
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and waterproof lime-based plaster, replacing MDF kitchens with stainless steel ones, and raising the level of electric sockets.

As part of the Government's Making Space for Water programme, we have been exploring what support we can offer to households in high risk areas who will not benefit from a community scheme. £28 million has been set aside in the recent comprehensive spending review settlement to fund work to help communities adapt to increasing risk of flooding and coastal erosion.

In collaboration with the Environment Agency and some local authorities, we have funded six pilots (£500,000) to examine the feasibility of developing a grant scheme for householders on flood resilience. These pilots have just completed and we are expecting final reports shortly.

As part of this work, the Environment Agency is investigating the development of a web-based information resource, providing a route-map on different sources of advice for flood resilience options for individual properties. This would be open to members of the public, including builders.

We have also been working with the insurance industry, as part of the Statement of Principles review (see earlier submission), to look at what insurers can do to promote the use of household-level measures and in particular resilient repair.

Flood Control: Gloucestershire

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the progress made by each local authority in Gloucestershire in revising flood defence strategies by either (a) revising the local plan and (b) developing the local development framework; and what powers he has to monitor the development of flood defence strategies. [201795]

Mr. Woolas: The Environment Agency reviews flood defences through catchment flood management plans and flood defence strategies. Revising and monitoring flood defence strategies is not a function of local authorities via the local plan or local development framework process.

In preparing strategic flood risk assessments, local authorities consider flood defences with a view to where they locate allocations for development and where they may require site-specific flood risk assessments to be carried out by developers and submitted with planning applications.

Strategic plans, such as catchment flood management plans and strategic flood risk assessments feed into the local development framework process by providing a baseline of evidence. This detailed environmental information allows informed decisions to be made in relation to land use and development proposals at both a regional and a local level.

The Environment Agency is involved with a strategic flood risk assessment (SFRA) that is currently being undertaken by Gloucestershire county council. This should assess flood risk from a variety of sources and will take account of the 2007 summer floods. It will assist local authorities in making future housing allocations and ensuring that future developments are as sustainable as possible in flood risk terms. The SFRA is due to be completed in May.


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Floods: Costs

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the cost of repairs to properties flooded during the summer of 2007. [201577]

Mr. Woolas: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my hon. Friend the Minister for Local Government on 28 April 2008, Official Report, column 68W.

Food: Prices

Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research he has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on the effect of biomass production on food prices over the last five years. [202114]

Mr. Woolas [holding answer 28 April 2008]: In the UK, over the last five years, there has been no large-scale production of biofuels from oilseeds and grains. Consequently, any effect on food prices has been negligible. Production plants are being built and are expected to come on line over the next few years.

At a global level, use of grains and oilseeds for biofuels is more important. However, a recent analysis by DEFRA concluded that the current high commodity prices are driven by a number of factors, of which demand for biofuels is one, but not the most important factor. Full details of the analysis can be viewed on the DEFRA website.

The area planted to dedicated energy crops, such as miscanthus and short rotation coppice, in the UK is still very small compared to total crops area (below 0.1 per cent.) and as such is likely to have had an un-measurably small impact on food prices.

Food: Salt

Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent meetings (a) Ministers and (b) officials in his Department have had with Consensus Action on Salt and Health on salt levels in food. [190215]

Dawn Primarolo: I have been asked to reply.

While the Ministers have not met with Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) recently, Food Standards Agency (FSA) officials, and the FSA chair, have met Professor MacGregor and Jo Butten to discuss the review of the voluntary salt reduction targets which is currently underway. CASH have also been present at 19 recent stakeholder meetings held by the FSA to inform the review of the targets.

Horse Racing: Animal Welfare

Mr. Morley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether his Department collects statistics on deaths of racehorses which take place during races. [202008]

Jonathan Shaw: The Government do not hold records on the circumstances or location of the death of racehorses. Such details may be obtained from the British Horseracing Authority.


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Mr. Morley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions his Department has had on measures to reduce the number of deaths of racehorses during races. [202009]

Jonathan Shaw: My ministerial colleague, the noble Lord Rooker, has arranged to meet the British Horseracing Authority in May to discuss the safety of racehorses during races.

Mr. Morley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent representations he has received on deaths of racehorses during races. [202010]

Jonathan Shaw: DEFRA has received no representations on the death of racehorses during races recently.

Horses: Animal Welfare

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the Answer of 7 February 2008, Official Report, column 1341W, on horses: animal welfare, if he will place in the Library a copy of the file. [201959]

Jonathan Shaw: Some of the papers have been placed in the Library of the House. The remaining papers are not being published as they attract legal professional privilege.

Reptiles: EU External Trade

Mr. Morley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what information his Department holds on the number of (a) CITES-listed and (b) non-CITES-listed (i) reptiles and (ii) birds imported into the European Union as recorded by the Trade Control and Expert System in each year from 2000 to 2006. [202021]

Jonathan Shaw: The TRACES system is run by the European Commission. Use of the system became compulsory from the start of 2005. Although some records exist for 2004, these are not comparable with later years.

Number of consignments recorded on TRACES for each year is as follows:


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Within the EU Outside the EU

2004

Reptiles

2

89

Birds (non-poultry but includes game)

107

37

2005

Reptiles

18

233

Birds (non-poultry but includes game)

962

90

2006

Reptiles

12

248

Birds (non-poultry but includes game)

787

8

2007

Reptiles

13

289

Birds (non-poultry but includes game)

964

14


TRACES does not record whether the animals are CITES listed or not.


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