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12 Jun 2008 : Column 386W—continued

Flood Defence

Mr. Leigh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the Environment Agency has a prioritised action plan for high-risk flood defence systems not in target condition. [210305]

Mr. Woolas: The Environment Agency reduces flood risk by focussing work on flood defences that contribute most towards risk. Annual work programmes are prioritised based on the latest inspections of flood defence conditions. More than 95 per cent. of Environment Agency flood defences are at or above the required standard.


Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent steps the Government has taken to encourage more drivers to use biofuels. [210391]

Jim Fitzpatrick: I have been asked to reply.

The Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) requires the major oil companies and fuel suppliers that supply road fuels to ensure that a proportion of the road fuel supplied in the UK comprises renewable fuels such as biofuels. The scheme came into effect in April 2008. The level of the obligation for the first year (2008-09) is 2.5 per cent. of total fuel supplied, rising to 3.75 per cent. in 2009-10 and 5 per cent. in 2010-11.

The UK Government, through the Refuelling Infrastructure Grant Programme managed by the Energy Saving Trust, have provided grants since 2005 towards the cost of installing alternative refuelling points including, for example, for hydrogen, electric, bioethanol and natural gas/biogas stations. To date the grant programme has assisted in funding of 18 bioethanol (E85) refuelling stations and 1 E95 bioethanol station.

Carbon Emissions: Finance

Mr. Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what his most recent assessment is of the UK's performance in meeting its international carbon dioxide emission reduction targets. [209676]

Mr. Woolas: To meet our Kyoto target, UK emissions of the six gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydroflurocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride) controlled under the Kyoto Protocol, expressed in terms of carbon dioxide equivalent, must be 12.5 per cent. below base year levels across the period 2008-12. The base year is 1990 for carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, and 1995 for the fluorinated gases. In 2005 and 2006, UK emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) were below this level. Latest projections estimate that, including the impact of the EU ETS, UK GHG emissions will be 23 per cent. below base year levels in 2010.

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Along with Germany and Sweden, the UK is one of the three EU-15 member states projected to be on track to achieve their Kyoto Protocol targets using only existing domestic policies and measures.

Chemicals: EU Law

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps the Government has taken to encourage manufacturers, importers and users of chemicals to follow EU rules on chemical control. [209168]

Mr. Woolas [holding answer 10 June 2008]: On 1 June 2007 the EU REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restriction of Chemicals) Regulation came into force. It is being implemented in stages over the next 10 years, and will replace much of the previous patchwork of chemicals control legislation with a single framework.

DEFRA, BERR, the UK REACH Competent Authority (the Health and Safety Executive), and the devolved administrations have been working closely since last year to raise awareness of REACH across industry, to encourage compliance and to make sure business can get the most benefit from REACH. This has been through a combination of four national conferences and over 25 regional follow-up events for industry organised by the Competent Authority, the creation of a dedicated REACH website within the Health and Safety Executive’s website, and a national Helpdesk to provide advice and technical information for businesses (contactable by telephone on 0845 408 9575, or e-mail at In addition, the Government have placed notices in specialised trade press, various online website links and e-newsletters, and an article in the February edition of the Employers’ Bulletin sent out by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs to over 1 million UK businesses. These activities will continue as REACH begins to be implemented in the coming months. Industry also has a role to play in REACH awareness-raising through the supply chain.

Enforcement of REACH is the responsibility of each EU member state, and on 2 June the Government launched a public consultation on the proposed UK arrangements. The documents are available on DEFRA’s website. The enforcement arrangements must be in place by 1 December.

Chlorofluorocarbons: Waste Disposal

David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of existing capacity safely to capture and dispose of products containing ozone depleting substances, with particular reference to those contained within plastic foam insulation; and if he will make a statement. [209642]

Mr. Woolas: The UK has some of the largest and most modern fridge treatment plants in Europe. These recover ozone-depleting substances from the fridge insulating foam and circuits and, in some cases, other equipment containing ozone-depleting substances.

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There are two high temperature incinerators in the UK that are used to destroy waste ozone-depleting substances.

The use of ozone-depleting substances in building insulation foams has been banned in the EU since the beginning of 2004. Most of these foams are currently still in buildings. DEFRA has initiated discussions with building industry stakeholders to assess the current infrastructure available for dealing with the recovery or destruction of ozone-depleting substances in building foams and the technical and economic issues that arise.

Climate Change: International Cooperation

Colin Challen: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress has been made on the commitment in the Gleneagles G8 Climate Change Action Plan to promote the International Energy Agency’s One Watt Initiative. [209778]

Mr. Woolas: The “One Watt” Initiative was launched by the International Energy Agency in 1997 with the aim of reducing standby power consumption for new appliances to one watt or less by 2010.

At Gleneagles, the G8—led by the UK—agreed to promote the application of the one watt initiative and the UK has been working with retailers and manufacturers to design out the use of wasteful standby functions and we are moving to adopt the one watt standard as part of our own procurement policy.

The UK has also been pressing for regulatory action to achieve this at the European level. Work under the Eco-design for Energy-using Products Framework Directive (EuP) is going well and we are expecting mandatory minimum standards for standby by the end of 2009, with a one watt horizontal requirement for most energy using products in place by 2010.

Climate Change: Satellites

Colin Challen: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what meetings he has held with representatives of the space industry on the development of earth observation satellites to monitor the effects of climate change in the last 12 months. [209768]

Mr. Woolas: The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has not met representatives of the space industry to discuss the development of Earth observation (EO) satellites to monitor the effects of climate change, within the last year. DEFRA is a partner in the British National Space Centre (hosted by the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills) who co-ordinate the Government’s interactions with the space industry. The Minister for Science and Innovation, who has responsibility for space policy, regularly meets with representatives of the space industry, where his wide-ranging discussions have covered the use of Earth observation satellites in monitoring climate change, and the associated Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) initiative. In addition to this, DEFRA organised a forum in March 2008, which was attended by a wide cross-section of the industry and others, to receive their views and input on the GMES initiative.

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Flood Control: Land

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what funding his Department makes available to land owners to assist them in pursuing land management practices which contribute to flood defences; [208584]

(2) if he will provide agri-environment payments for land owners to incentivise land management practices which contribute to flood defences. [208585]

Mr. Woolas: Environmental Stewardship, the agri-environment scheme funded through the Rural Development Programme for England, has flood management as a secondary objective, in support of its five primary objectives for wildlife, landscape, resource protection, the historic environment and access. The scheme does not fund flood management measures but can support complementary measures, such as the creation of water meadows and ditch restoration. During the application approval process, Natural England is advised by the Environment Agency as to whether there are any flood management benefits to the application, but the critical deciding factor will be whether the proposal meets the primary objectives.

The Environment Agency's catchment flood management plans identify areas where changes in land management may have a beneficial impact on flood risk and Natural England can use this information to help target higher level stewardship (HLS) funding. In deciding which HLS schemes to fund, Natural England has to take into account the full range of scheme objectives, and proposals which only deliver flood management benefits are less likely to be funded than those which deliver multiple objectives.

In cases where flood risk is an issue but HLS is not available the Environment Agency may use the flood management budget to take appropriate action. Any such scheme would need to be prioritised along with all other competing flood management projects.

Floods: Felixstowe

Mr. Gummer: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will place in the Library a copy of the meeting notes of the meeting held between the right hon. Member for Suffolk Coastal and the then Secretary of State, the right hon. Member for Derby South (Margaret Beckett), to discuss Felixstowe’s flood defences. [209882]

Mr. Woolas [holding answer 9 June 2008]: I will write to the right hon. Member when I have more information.

Food Supply

Mr. Mackay: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions he has had with ministerial colleagues on the security of the national food supply. [210303]

Hilary Benn: I have discussed food security, both national and global, regularly with ministerial colleagues in recent months. The UK is more self-sufficient in food supply now than we were at the end of the Second
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World War, but we do need to respond to changing circumstances. I intend to publish a paper on ensuring Britain's food security later this month.

Genetically Modified Organisms: Crops

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what account he takes of the possible effect on England and Wales of Scotland adopting a policy of banning GM crops when formulating policy. [209751]

Mr. Woolas: Like the rest of the UK, Scotland is subject to the relevant European Union legislation in this area. This provides for decisions on the proposed commercial release of GM products to be taken at EU level on a case-by-case basis, in line with the scientific evidence on the possible risks to human health and the environment.

Heathrow Airport: Carbon Emissions

Mrs. Villiers: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the effect of the proposals in the Adding Capacity at Heathrow Airport consultation on the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. [209060]

Mr. Woolas: Both Ministers and officials in DEFRA engage regularly with colleagues at the Department for Transport on matters relating to Heathrow which affect DEFRA lead policy responsibilities: notably on air quality, noise and climate change impacts.

Under current plans to include aviation in the EU emissions trading scheme (ETS), aviation emissions will be capped at the average of 2004-06 levels. Therefore, any growth in emissions above this cap would be compensated by emissions reductions elsewhere in other sectors that are participating in the EU ETS.

Inland Waterways: Waste Disposal

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he is taking to assist local communities and voluntary associations to clear rubbish and other debris from rivers and canals. [210313]

Jonathan Shaw: The bodies responsible for maintaining waterways frequently work with local communities and charitable organisations to clear rubbish and debris. In addition, DEFRA provides funding to ENCAMS, who will be launching the Big Tidy Up campaign later this year—this will help community and voluntary groups to get involved in cleaning up their neighbourhoods, including rivers and canals.

Insulation: EC Law

David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 2 June 2008, Official Report, column 766W, on insulation: EC law, whether his Department has set a timetable towards implementation following the European Commission's review of EC Regulation 2037/2000. [210384]

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Mr. Woolas: According to the current information from the European Commission, any revised legislation resulting from the Commission's review of EC Regulation 2037/2000 may come into force in the UK and other member states by early 2010. The Commission acknowledges that this is an ambitious timetable.


Colin Challen: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will publish the response to the letter to the Prime Minister dated 19 December 2007 from Dr. James Hansen on the development of coal-fired power stations. [209770]

Mr. Woolas: It is not our policy to publish detail of responses to private letters.

Nature Conservation

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what changes there have been to the regulations affecting the trade of endangered species in the last two years. [210050]

Joan Ruddock: Commission Regulation (EC) No. 100/2008 came into effect on 25 February 2008 and made amendments to Commission Regulation 865/2006 which lays down the detailed rule concerning the implementation of CITES in the European Community. Changes included amendments to certificate definitions; changes to the personal effects derogation; a new certificate for sample collections; and a requirement for caviar processing plants to be registered.

Commission Regulation (EC) No. 318/2008 (CITES) came into effect on 11 April 2008. It replaced 1332/2005 and made amendments to the species listed on the Annexes of Council Regulation 338/97, implementing the changes to the Appendices agreed at the 14th Conference of CITES Parties in June 2007.

Commission Regulation (EC) No. 1037/2007 (CITES) came into effect on 1 October 2007. It suspends the introduction into the EC of certain species of wild fauna and flora. It also repealed Commission Regulation (EC) No. 349/2003 of 25 February 2003.

Planning Permission: Upchurch

Derek Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the Answer of 20 March 2008, Official Report, column 1302W, on planning permission: Upchurch, when the Environment Agency’s investigation will be completed; and what consideration the Agency has given to taking legal action following completion of its investigation. [209934]

Mr. Woolas [holding answer 10 June 2008]: The Environment Agency’s observation and investigation has, to date, revealed no evidence of illegal activity upon which it can act. The Environment Agency continues to support the multi agency group in its ongoing investigations and regulation of activities on site.

Medway Unitary Authority is leading on regulation at Four Gun Field under the terms of the paragraph 24 exemption which it registered in respect of the crushing activities at the site.

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