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13 May 2008 : Column 1447W—continued

Angling: Licensing

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the Answer of 29 April 2008 , Official Report, columns 280-81W, on angling: licensing, what steps the Environment Agency is taking to improve disabled and senior anglers access to angling; and if he will make a statement. [204091]

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Jonathan Shaw [holding answer 8 May 2008]: In 2007-08, £393,000 of Environment Agency funding was provided to 37 projects involving improved access. Together with partner contributions of £665,000 this resulted in a total spend of £1.058 million.

The Environment Agency collaborated with the British Disabled Angling Association to produce comprehensive “Access Guidelines for Fisheries” on how to improve access for disabled anglers. This provides a reference point for all fishery owners on the design and issues of improving access for all.

In 2008-09, subject to achieving licence sales targets, an additional £300,000 has been allocated to improving access, giving a projected spend of £600,000. The new work includes a joint programme with representatives of Disabled Angling groups of over 100 projects to identify where access can be improved for disabled anglers in particular. There will be additional access improvements projects delivered on the ground with fishery owners.

Since 2006, the Environment Agency has produced free Angling Guides in paper and internet format. This provides information on the location of publicly accessible fisheries and whether these cater for disabled anglers.

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the Answer of 29 April 2008, Official Report, columns 280-81W, on angling: licensing, what proportion of the monies raised by higher duty rates will be used to improve access to angling for disabled and senior anglers. [204092]

Jonathan Shaw [holding answer 8 May 2008]: The Environment Agency spends £2 million each year on fisheries improvement projects, of which £300,000 is nominally allocated to improve access.

The forecast increased income arising from the concessionary change will be around £600,000. Subject to licence sales targets being achieved and suitable fisheries owners coming forward to work with them, it is anticipated that up to £300,000 (50 per cent.) of this extra income will be used in 2008-09 to undertake new work. This will provide a total spend of £600,000 on access improvement by the Environment Agency and its partners.

Biofuels: Research

Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the value was of grants made by his Department for research into biofuels since 1 January 2006; and to which organisations they were given. [204990]

Mr. Woolas: DEFRA’s bio-energy R and D focuses on the genetic improvement and selection of biomass crops such as willow and miscanthus. Current spend is about £900,000 per year, which provides underpinning R and D for both second generation biofuels and solid biomass for energy. Other relevant work is being funded jointly with industry to breed wheat and oilseed rape varieties that require reduced fertiliser inputs (£331,000 in 2008-09 and approximately £814,000 in 2006-07 and 2007-08 combined).

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It is difficult to separate out the work exclusively on biofuels, but a specific project was funded in 2007 to assess ‘Greenhouse gas emissions and environmental sustainability of international biofuels production and use’ (£37,000).

Organisations funded by DEFRA since 2006 are Aberystwyth university (IBERS), Rothamsted Research, AEA Technology, the National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB), Warwick HRI and ADAS.

DEFRA, through the International Sustainable Development Fund, are also funding two (desk) studies into Brazilian biofuels and their sustainability. One is by the university of Campinas, into bioethanol, and the other is by the university of Sao Paulo, into biodiesel. They are around £50,000 each.

Bovine Tuberculosis: Disease Control

Mr. Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he will decide his policy on whether to cull badgers to combat bovine tuberculosis; and if he will make a statement. [204659]

Jonathan Shaw: There is no timetable for a decision on this issue. There is a great deal of complex evidence to consider and the matter is receiving our attention.

Coastal Areas: Rights of Way

Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment his Department has made of the likely impact that an extension of coastal access will have on (a) rural business owners and (b) landowners. [204896]

Jonathan Shaw: An Impact Assessment of proposals to improve access to the English coast has been carried out. It was published along with the draft Marine Bill on 3 April 2008 and is available on DEFRA’s website.

Departmental Retirement

Mark Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much is planned to be spent on his Department’s voluntary retirement scheme in each of the first three years of its existence. [194800]

Jonathan Shaw [holding answer 19 March 2008]: This Department’s 2007-08 voluntary early departure scheme is not a multi-annual scheme but was open for applications between September 2007 and January 2008 with provision set aside in this financial year for any payments to retirees, consequent on their departure under this scheme, which might fall in future years. It immediately followed a previous voluntary early departure scheme which ran from December 2006 to July 2007.

It is estimated that during financial years 2006-07 and 2007-08 this Department will have spent £14.8 million and £49 million, respectively, on the funding of voluntary early departures under either scheme. There are currently no plans to launch further voluntary early departure schemes.

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The forecast core DEFRA paybill savings for the CSR07 period due to early departures via the two schemes of VER/S are:

£ million









For the Rural Payments Agency the estimated costs during the financial year 2006-07 was a credit of £0.074 million, this was due to a reduction in the provision for exit costs as a result of some staff from 2005-06 withdrawing from their arrangements. In 2007-08 the estimated cost is £1.062 million.

Dredging: North Sea

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the impact on the East Coast of dredging for aggregates in the North Sea, with particular reference to the impact on coastal sea defences; and whether aggregates obtained from dredging of riverbeds and main watercourses are used by the construction industry. [204586]

Jonathan Shaw: Marine minerals dredging in English waters is carefully controlled through the Environmental Impact Assessment and Natural Habitats (Extraction of Minerals by Marine Dredging) (England and Northern Ireland) Regulations 2007. All marine mineral dredging applications are required to assess the physical effects of the proposed dredging operation and its implications for coastal erosion by way of a Coastal Impact Study (CIS). A permission to dredge will only be issued if the regulator (the Marine and Fisheries Agency (MFA) on behalf of the Secretary of State), their advisors, consultees and major stakeholders are content that the proposed dredging is environmentally acceptable. In making this judgment the precautionary principle is always adopted and should the CIS show a potential to contribute to coastal erosion a permission would not be issued.

Modelling and field studies on the impact of both individual offshore dredging licences and of the cumulative impacts of such licences have concluded that UK offshore dredging has not contributed to coastal erosion. There may be a potential impact on the coastline in relation to estuary and near-shore dredging for navigation purposes. However, in these cases, there is a clear need to balance economic and social imperatives of continued port operations with any environmental impact.

Disposal of navigational dredgings in tidal waters is licensed under the Food and Environment Protection Act (FEPA) 1985. Before any licence can be issued for disposal, consideration must be made as to whether alternate waste management options are possible, including re-use. FEPA licences are not normally granted where practicable alternative means of recovery or disposal exist. We are working with the industry to secure ways to ensure the arisings of
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appropriate dredging spoil are more closely linked to suitable construction projects where re-use would not entail excessive costs.

There have been a number of examples where materials that are to be dredged for navigational reasons have been diverted to alternative use, including for construction, land reclamation and for landscape bunding etc. For example, the Port of Southampton disposed of, for commercial use, a significant quantity of sand dredged from their navigational channels and the proposed London Gateway port development envisages using some 25 million tonnes of dredged materials for land-raising/landscaping works. It is not uncommon for port authorities to make available suitable dredged materials for use in maintaining beaches and inter-tidal areas. Harwich Haven Authority has previously entered into various agreements with local coast defence authorities to re-use suitable sand for beach replenishment.

DEFRA continues to fund research into alternative uses of dredged material to improve understanding of how these can be used and, with its Marine and Fisheries Agency which regulates disposal of marine dredgings, are engaged with the Central Dredging Association (CEDA) to promote and increase beneficial use of materials.

Energy Supply: Carbon Emissions

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent meetings he has had with energy suppliers on the carbon dioxide emissions reduction target. [204298]

Mr. Woolas: I attended a meeting at No. 11 Downing street with energy suppliers, ministerial colleagues and advisors on 24 April where among other issues, CERT was discussed.

Energy: EU Law

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what timetable has been set for the implementation of Lot 1 of the Energy-using Products Directive. [205442]

Joan Ruddock: The Commission has not yet set a formal timetable for bringing forward the implementing measure on Lot 1 of the Energy-using Products Directive, but has indicated that it expects the measure to go to the Regulatory Committee for a vote towards the end of 2008 or beginning of 2009.

Environment Agency: Consultants

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what payments the Environment Agency made to Zennor Consulting Ltd in each of the last three years; and on what date and for what purpose each such payment was made. [204532]

Mr. Woolas: The following table shows transactions paid by the Environment Agency to Zennor Consulting Ltd in the 2006-07 financial year. It has no recorded transactions with Zennor Consulting Ltd in either 2005-06 or 2007-08.

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Order date Description £

28 February 2007

Preparation and delivery of workshops on Territorial Co-operation project development


30 October 2006

INTERREG project management training workshop


28 July 2006

Preparation and delivery of keynote speech and workshop facilitation for Cycleau conference


23 May 2006

Cost for audit preparation training for four people as part of the Improving Coastal and Recreational Waters Project




Environment Protection: Dogger Bank

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will propose the Dogger Bank as an offshore special area of conservation under the EU Habitats Directive; and if he will make a statement. [204639]

Jonathan Shaw: Dogger Bank has been identified as a draft Special Area of Conservation (SAC) under the Habitats Directive Annex III Stage 1 selection criteria. Draft SACs are areas that have been formally advised to the UK Government as suitable for selection as SACs, but have not been formally approved by the Government as sites for public consultation.

Further information in support of the recommendation for Dogger Bank is currently being gathered. Only after the necessary evidence has been collected can a recommendation be made.

EU Solidarity Fund

Sir Michael Spicer: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he expects to receive the £120 million allocated to the UK by the EU Solidarity Fund. [203826]

Kitty Ussher: I have been asked to reply.

The Government are in the process of finalising the arrangements for the receipt of the funding and we expect to receive this shortly.

The UK applied to the EU Solidarity Fund last August, and it was confirmed by the European Parliament in April that €162.4 million (£110 million) would be provided to the UK to help meet the costs of recovering from the summer 2007 floods.

Flood Control

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress has been made on flood defence schemes announced for construction in (a) 2006-07 and (b) 2007-08. [204669]

Mr. Woolas [holding answer 9 May 2008]: I have asked the chief executive of the Environment Agency to write with this information.

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Pollution Control: EC Action

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the costs of pollution prevention and control permits in other EU member states for benchmarking purposes; and if he will make a statement. [204524]

Mr. Woolas: My Department does not hold any information of the costs of pollution prevention and control (PPC) permits in other EU member states. Directive 2008/1/EC concerning integrated pollution prevention and control (codified version) is silent on the subject of member states charging for PPC permits. Some member states may not charge for IPPC permit applications, but may recover varying proportions of their costs from the regulated industry, while others bear the cost in general taxation. This is a political decision for each national Government. The differing practices which are in place make it difficult to make comparisons of the costs of PPC permits across the EU. In England and Wales regulators are required, in accordance with HMT guidance and the ‘Polluter Pays Principle’, to recover the costs of regulation from those they regulate.

Rights of Way

Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many wardens as defined by section 18 of the Countryside Rights of Way Act 2000 have been appointed in (a) each region and (b) each local authority area since 2001. [204893]

Jonathan Shaw: This information is not centrally held and could be gathered only at a disproportionate cost.

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