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21 May 2008 : Column 342W—continued

21 May 2008 : Column 343W


Mrs. Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research was commissioned by his Department on biogas production in (a) England and (b) Wales in each year since 2000. [205864]

Mr. Woolas: Since 2000 DEFRA has spent £720,000 on research and development into biogas production. Current work includes the UK contribution to a EU FP7 Biogas project (£300,000 over four years). This project is due to complete in 2010 and will result in a synthesis of information required to assess the development of a sustainable biogas industry in the UK.

The Waste and Resources Action programme (WRAP) has also conducted research on food waste processing, including anaerobic digestion. This can be found on WRAP'S website:

DEFRA holds the research and development budget and commissions research relevant to England and Wales.

DEFRA also launched the Waste Implementation programme's £30 million Demonstrator programme to demonstrate innovative waste treatments technologies as possible alternatives to landfill. The programme aims to prove the economic, social and environmental viability (or not) of each selected technology.


Mr. Benyon: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many cases of BSE were recorded in UK herds in (a) 2004, (b) 2005, (c) 2006 and (d) 2007. [206830]

Jonathan Shaw: The number of cases of BSE recorded in UK herds in the years specified is shown in the following table:

Year of confirmation Number of BSE cases confirmed









The Veterinary Laboratories Agency publishes a range of statistical information on BSE and other transmissible spongiform encephalopathies on its website.

Canvey Island

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions his Department has had with the Environment Agency on the effect of additional development on Canvey Island on the ability to evacuate the island in the event of flood risk; and if he will make a statement. [205071]

Mr. Woolas: Assessment of risks to the public and how to meet them, including identification of any evacuation routes needed, is a matter for the relevant Local Resilience Forum. In cases where information
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from Flood Risk Assessments under PPS 25 is available, this can be taken into account in contingency planning and in development control.

The Environment Agency is a statutory consultee on all planning applications where there is a risk of flooding and continues to work with Local Resilience Forums through area managers and flood incident management teams to improve flood emergency planning and co-ordination.

Carbon Emissions

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what timetable he has set for announcing the strategy to reduce UK carbon emissions to the levels proposed in the Climate Change Bill; and if he will make a statement. [206455]

Mr. Woolas: The Climate Change Bill requires that the UK Government set the first three carbon budgets in legislation by 1 June 2009 and publish proposals and policies for meeting those carbon budgets as soon as is reasonably practicable afterwards.

The Chancellor has announced that the first three carbon budgets and a plan for meeting them will be published alongside Budget 2009.

Carbon Emissions: Nuclear Power

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the Answer of 21 April 2008, Official Report, column 1357, on carbon emissions: nuclear power stations, what information his Department holds on which of the countries from which uranium is provided for use in the United Kingdom commercial nuclear programme produce national emissions inventories. [206396]

Mr. Woolas: The Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform is responsible for civil nuclear industry in the UK. The UK currently sources uranium for commercial reactors from Australia and Russia.

Those parties reporting national greenhouse gas inventories to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) are listed on their website.

Construction: Carbon Emissions

Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how the carbon footprint of government-funded construction projects is assessed; and what guidance his Department issues on (a) identifying carbon savings during the planning and design process and (b) auditing the carbon footprint of completed projects. [205605]

Mr. Woolas: Departmental construction projects are required to be procured in compliance with the ‘Common Minimum Standards for the procurement of built environments in the public sector’, developed and published by the Office of Government Commerce. These standards include the requirement to complete an appropriate environmental assessment process appropriate to the size nature and scale of the project, such as BREEAM or equivalent. There is currently no requirement to specifically assess the carbon footprint.
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Support is available to the Government through the Carbon Trust's Building Design Advice service, which helps organisations to identify the carbon savings in new and renovation projects. It also provides advice on carbon footprinting.

Departmental Data Protection

James Brokenshire: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether any officials in (a) his Department and (b) its agencies were disciplined or dismissed for (i) alleged breaches of data protection requirements and (ii) inappropriate use of personal or sensitive data in each of the last three years for which figures are available. [205900]

Jonathan Shaw: During the last three years no officials working in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and its agencies have been disciplined or dismissed for (i) alleged breaches of data protection requirements and (ii) inappropriate use of personal or sensitive data.

Disease Control

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what bio-security measures are in place at airports and ports to prevent the importation of animal diseases from abroad; and if he will make a statement. [206292]

Jonathan Shaw: Legally imported animals and animal products from non-European Union (EU) countries are checked on entry into the United Kingdom (UK) to ensure they meet EU veterinary import conditions. Animal Health (AH) is responsible for carrying out the checks where ports/airports do not handle food products including live animals. Local authorities' veterinarians carry out the checks at ports which handle food of animal origin such as meat, fish, eggs, milk and products containing them, and a mix of animal products.

There are three types of checks:

Checks are carried out in approved facilities at ports and airports. These are known as Border Inspection Posts (BIPs). EU legislation lays down the requirements for BIPs and they are inspected periodically by the European Commission (EC) to ensure they meet the required standard. There is also a programme of liaison visits by AH to local authority operated BIPs to ensure compliance with the required standard.

For intra-community trade, random checks may be carried out at the point of destination to ensure that consignments meet the requirements. If there is a disease outbreak in another member state, the onus is on the exporting country to implement disease control measures to ensure that animals and products which may present a risk are not exported.

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Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has been responsible for anti-smuggling controls at the Great Britain border on illegal imports of products of animal origin (POAO) from outside the EU since 11 April 2003. This includes checks on passengers' baggage, freight and post. These controls are being handled by the UK Border Agency (UKBA) since 1 April 2008. Department of Agriculture and Rural Development for Northern Ireland (DARDNI) retain responsibility in Northern Ireland. HMRC/UKBA is committed to taking effective, proportionate, risk based and intelligence led enforcement measures to prevent illegal imports. It takes account of the latest animal disease risk assessments put together by veterinary experts from DEFRA on the current global and regional outbreak situation and targets resources on those entry routes that pose the greatest threat of disease.

With the exception of certain technical specialists, all frontline detection staff are employed as multifunctional anti-smuggling staff with a responsibility to tackle a range of risks at the border, including dealing with POAO. Anti-smuggling staff are supported by the use of detector dogs and baggage X-ray scanning equipment.

Detector dogs specifically trained to detect POAO are flexibly deployed in customs channels and baggage reclaim areas in accordance with latest risk assessments. Dogs are particularly successful in identifying large numbers of passengers and their baggage in a short time. They also work from time to time in postal depots and other customs controlled areas including freight sheds, car halls and lorry lanes. UKBA's ongoing commitment is to maintain 11 fully trained POAO detector dogs but at any one time, the number operational can fluctuate as a result of such factors as sickness or retirements and the need to train new dogs.

X-ray equipment is located in all Customs Green channels at major ports and airports to scan suspicious baggage. Over-belt scanners are located behind selected baggage belts to scan all baggage from selected high risk flights.

In addition, there continues to be a joined-up approach across Government Departments on the overall communications strategy to help raise travellers' awareness of the rules on personal imports of POAO. A variety of public awareness raising mechanisms are deployed with DEFRA leading on inland audiences and UKBA at the border and abroad. This is part of the overall anti-smuggling strategy to complement UKBA's targeted checks at the border.

Environment Agency: Conferences

Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much the Environment Agency spent on its internal communications conference in 2007; how much of that total was accounted for by (a) payment of speakers, (b) travel costs, (c) food and (d) accommodation; and how many staff are due to attend the 2008 conference. [205609]

Mr. Woolas: The Environment Agency is increasingly professionalising its communications teams in order to draw on new tools and best practice technicians to change the behaviours of business, farmers, people at risk of flooding and other key audiences. The Communication Conference is a professional development
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event that supports this and helps to build strong integrated communications teams and programmes. The Environment Agency again expects 250 people to attend the 2008 conference.

The costs of the 2007 conference are as follows.


Payment of speakers


Travel costs


Food and drink


Accommodation (including daytime venues)


Production and sundry costs




Travel costs include bus hire and estimated individual delegate travel to and from the venue at Nottingham university. This is based on an estimate of £30 expenditure per head and takes into account off-peak travel and maximised car-sharing.

Fisheries: Fuels

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what information he holds on the levels of fuel subsidy provided to fishing fleets in other EU member states; and if he will make a statement. [204625]

Jonathan Shaw [holding answer 9 May 2008]: I understand that the Spanish Government is making payments directly related to fuel used by fishermen. These payments are within the de minimis limits set out in Commission Regulation 875/2007. The payments are set at 0.095 per litre of fuel used in the period 1 November 2004 to 31 October 2005.

If applied in the UK, such a scheme would cost in the order of £25 million a year, and result in a payment to fishermen of around 7.5p/litre of fuel used: around one third of the increase in the price of diesel since this time last year. Such a scheme does not address the need for the fleet to adapt to higher fuel prices in the longer term, diverts resources from assisting with this adaptation and is not sustainable.

I have no information that any other member state is making such payments.

Flood Control

Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will bring forward proposals to update and consolidate legislation on flood prevention and protection in a single Act. [205610]

Mr. Woolas: One of Sir Michael Pitt's interim conclusions was that flooding legislation should be updated and streamlined under a single unifying Act of Parliament that addresses all sources of flooding, clarifies responsibilities and facilitates flood risk management.

The Government recognise the arguments in support of this and the draft legislative programme, published on 14 May, says that the Government intend to publish a draft Floods and Water Bill for consultation during the next session of Parliament, following the Pitt review into the 2007 floods and the Government's water strategy, ‘Future Water’.

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Flood Control: EU Law

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent representations he has received on the implementation of the European Floods Directive 2007; what the timetable for implementation is; what the estimated cost of implementing the Directive is; what account will be taken of the provisions of the EU Water Framework Directive in implementing the European Floods Directive; and if he will make a statement. [205309]

Mr. Woolas: The European Directive on the Assessment and Management of Flood Risks (2007/60/EC of 23 October 2007) (the Floods Directive) is designed to help member states prevent and limit floods and their damaging effects on human health, the environment, infrastructure and property.

In contrast with current domestic legislation, the Floods Directive advocates a risk based approach to flood risk management. Sir Michael Pitt's interim report on lessons learned from the 2007 floods recommends that flooding legislation should be updated and streamlined under a single unifying Act, which embraces this risk based approach.

The Floods Directive came into force on 26 November, 2007 and member states have two years to transpose the directive into domestic law. DEFRA is co-ordinating transposition within the UK and is ultimately responsible for its timely and compliant implementation. A UK Floods Directive Liaison Group is developing policy on implementation and monitoring progress against the project timetable which, for England, is set out as follows:

The cost of transposing and implementing the directive will be assessed prior to consultation. However, existing flood risk mapping and planning arrangements in England already reflect the broad thrust of the directive and new proposals on surface water management to address Pitt will compliment those of the directive so costs will be limited.

The flood risk assessment process required by the Floods Directive must be aligned with the environmental objectives of the Water Framework Directive and carried out in consultation with stakeholders.

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