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18 Jun 2008 : Column 928W—continued

Zimbabwe: Politics and Government

John Battle: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations his Department has made to Zimbabwean officials on the arrest of leaders of the Movement for Democratic Change; and if he will make a statement. [211193]

Meg Munn: We have told the government of Zimbabwe we strongly condemn the ongoing violence and intimidation against all Zimbabweans. Following the recent arrest of Morgan Tsvangirai and other opposition leaders, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary made a statement calling for their immediate release. We continue to stress that all candidates and supporters should be allowed to participate safely and fully in the electoral process.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Biofuels

Mrs. Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 21 May 2008, Official Report, column 343W on biofuels, how much of the £720,000 spent on research and development into biogas production has been spent in Wales. [210913]

Mr. Woolas: DEFRA only provides grants for projects in England. Any funding spent in Wales is a devolved matter and for the Welsh Assembly Government to decide upon.

All of the waste and resources action programme's (WRAP) research and development into biogas production has been based in England. However, the findings of WRAP'S research are pertinent to the whole of the UK and have been disseminated in Wales.

WRAP Wales are supporting operational anaerobic digestion (AD) projects in Wales (through Welsh Assembly Government-funded capital competitions), and working closely with the AD Centre of Excellence at the university of Glamorgan, to ensure that emerging best practice is incorporated.

Carbon Emissions

Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what consultations his Department (a) has held and (b) plans to hold on the definition of zero carbon. [211641]

Mr. Woolas: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 4 June 2008, Official Report , column 981W.


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Climate Change Bill

Mr. Lilley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discount rate was used (a) to calculate net present value of costs and benefits of the Climate Change Bill in the final impact assessment and (b) to calculate costs and benefits of mitigating climate change in the Economics of Climate Change by Professor Stern. [211981]

Mr. Woolas [holding answer 17 June 2008]: The Climate Change Bill Final Impact Assessment complied with the Better Regulation Executive’s guidance on development of Impact Assessments. This states that HM Treasury’s discount rates should be applied, as set out in their publication “Appraisal and Evaluation in Central Government—The Green Book”. The Green Book sets out a declining discounting schedule which discounts costs and benefits for the first 30 years at 3.5 per cent. per annum, and costs and benefits for years 30 to 60 at 3 per cent. per annum.

Professor Stern’s review did not apply a single rate of discount, but rather calculated the discount rate endogenously within the analysis, varying according to the scenario.

Climate Change: Arctic

Susan Kramer: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research his Department has evaluated on trends in the area of Arctic sea ice in the last 10 years; and if he will make a statement. [211213]

Mr. Woolas: The Met Office Hadley Centre (MOHC) undertakes research on trends in the area of Arctic sea ice, on behalf of DEFRA, through its Integrated Climate Programme. Within this programme, which is jointly funded by DEFRA and the Ministry of Defence, trends in the area of Arctic sea ice in the last 10 years were assessed as part of a comparison between modelled estimates of the minimum extent of summer sea ice and corresponding satellite records, for the period 1979 to 2006.

The satellite observation record shows a long-term decline in ice extent at all times of the year over recent decades, which has accelerated in the last decade; with record summer lows in 2001, 2005 and now, 2007 (at 4.13 million km(2), some 2.5 million km(2) less than a decade ago). Last year’s record low in summer sea ice extent was partly explained by unusually mild weather conditions and warm sea temperatures. Most climate models underestimate this ongoing decline, but some with more sophisticated sea ice physics appear able to capture the general trend (but not recent dramatic seasonal falls in sea ice extent). The MOHC model, even though doing better than most other climate models in representing the long term decline, only predicted a drop of about 0.5 million km(2) in summer sea ice extent over the last decade.

The strong year-to-year variability (due to short term weather factors) superimposed on this downward trend in summer sea ice area, means it is difficult to compare a single annual observed value with a long term trend in model simulations.


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Floods: Housing

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) how many houses have been identified as being at risk of flooding greater than once in 75 years in England; [211437]

(2) what estimate he has made of the number of houses that will receive improved standards of flood protection funded by his Department (a) over the next three years and (b) within the duration of his 20 year plan on flooding; [211438]

(3) what estimate he has made of the number of houses which will remain at significant risk of flooding at the end of the current spending review period; and what proposals he has to protect occupiers of such houses within his 20 year plan on flooding. [211439]

Mr. Woolas: The last complete national flood risk assessment, in 2006, indicated that there were 393,000 residential properties at significant probability (probability greater than one in 75) of flooding in England.

The proposed minimum target for the capital programme over the three years of the 2007 comprehensive spending review period (April 2008 to March 2011) is for 145,000 households to have an improved standard of protection against flooding or coastal erosion.

During this period, the Environment Agency, local authorities and internal drainage boards will collectively deliver a programme to remove 45,000 households in England from the significant flood risk band.

The Environment Agency is developing a long term investment strategy for flood and coastal erosion risk management. A 25 year strategy will identify the policies and funding needed to achieve further improvements in flood and coastal risk, together with ways to deliver these. The strategy will be published in spring 2009.

Floods: Sewers

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment his Department has made of the resilience of sewage treatment works to flooding. [211538]

Mr. Woolas: The Environment Agency has identified nearly 5,000 sites located in areas in England and Wales assessed by the agency as having an annual probability of flooding of one in 75 or greater. These include 737 sewage and water treatment works. This is a cautious estimate and does not take into account the specific ground elevations and other particular local factors.

The operators of this infrastructure are responsible for contingency planning to ensure continuity of service in the event of hazards such as flooding. The Environment Agency makes available its information to help operators carry out the necessary risk assessments. The Environment Agency has also contributed to Ofwat’s development of a methodology to enable water companies to assess asset resilience, with a view to informing the water company draft business plans for the next five year planning period.


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In his interim review of last year’s flooding Sir Michael Pitt recommended that local resilience fora assess the vulnerability to flooding of critical infrastructure in their areas. The Environment Agency is helping with that assessment.

We do recognise and share the concerns expressed in the Pitt interim Review about the resilience of critical infrastructure to flooding. We will consider whether any further action is necessary in the light of the final Pitt recommendations due later this month.

Hazardous Substances: Waste Disposal

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment his Department has made of the environmental effects of the non-implementation of EC regulation 2037/2000 on ozone-depleting substances. [211068]

Mr. Woolas: EC Regulation 2037/2000 on substances that deplete the ozone layer is directly applicable in the UK and other member states of the EU. Offences and penalties for failure to comply with its provisions in Great Britain are prescribed in the Environmental Protection (Controls on Ozone-Depleting Substances) Regulations 2002 (SI 2002/528) and the Environmental Protection (Controls on Ozone-Depleting Substances) (Amendment) Regulations 2008 (SI 2008/91).

Members: Correspondence

John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he plans to respond to the letters of 25 February and 6 May 2008 from the hon. Member for Edinburgh West regarding his constituent Mr. I. Firth. [210735]

Mr. Woolas: You originally wrote to this Department on 26 November 2007 regarding your constituent. My officials replied to your office on 22 January 2008 to advise that the correspondence had been transferred to the Scottish Executive. After you wrote to the Department on 25 February 2008, one of my officials telephoned your office to confirm that the correspondence had been transferred.

Reservoirs

Jessica Morden: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many new reservoirs have been constructed in England and Wales since water privatisation. [211327]

Mr. Woolas: As the enforcement authority in England and Wales for the Reservoirs Act 1975, the Environment Agency maintains a register of all large raised reservoirs with a capacity of 25,000 m(3) or greater above natural ground level.

Since water privatisation in 1989, 244 large raised reservoirs have been constructed, 232 of these in England and 12 in Wales. 37 of these reservoirs are owned by water companies, 25 of which are service reservoirs and 12 of which are ‘raw water’ supply reservoirs.


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Transport

Biofuels

Mr. Jeremy Browne: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member of East Surrey of 8 May 2008, Official Report, column 1067W, on biofuels, what estimate she has made of the cost of the Renewable Fuels Agency’s review of the indirect impacts of biofuel production; and what estimate she has made of the cost to the Agency of (a) the work of (i) Agency staff and (ii) external advisers on the review and (b) the printing and publication of the report. [210246]

Jim Fitzpatrick [holding answer 11 June 2008]: It is currently estimated that the total cost of the review that is being led by the Renewable Fuels Agency (RFA) will be £264,000 inclusive of VAT (see following table). Of this amount it is expected that £218,000 will be spent on work carried out by external consultants. This includes their contributing towards expert studies of evidence, evaluation of production scenarios and engaging with international stakeholders through seminars and workshop events as part of the necessary evidence gathering process. An estimate of the RFA staff costs incurred by the review has not yet been made. We anticipate that the report will be made available electronically.

Item Estimated cost (to nearest £000)

External consultancy

218,000

Expert seminars

43,000

Stakeholder workshops

3,000

Total

264,000


Bus Services

Mrs. Villiers: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport which bus operating companies are owned by a parent company which also owns a train operating company. [209256]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Department for Transport does not keep central data on individual bus companies and their parent groups. However, to the best of our knowledge, the following bus companies operating in Great Britain are owned by the parent groups Arriva, First, Go-Ahead, National Express, Stagecoach and Keolis, all of which also own train operating companies (please note that trading names within these companies sometimes differ):

Arriva bus operations


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First bus operations

Go-Ahead bus operations

National Express bus operations


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