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1 July 2008 : Column 774W—continued


Departmental Records

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what files are held by his Department on (a) the Animal Welfare Bill of Session 2005-06 and (b) the Animal Welfare Act 2006; and if he will make a statement. [212361]

Jonathan Shaw: My Department holds a number of files on both the Animal Welfare Bill and the Act, mainly relating to the development of the legislation.

Departmental Trade Unions

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which trades unions represent members of staff in (a) his Department and (b) its agencies. [212484]

Jonathan Shaw: The trades unions that represent members of staff in DEFRA and its agencies are Prospect, First Division and Public and Commercial Services.

Equality

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will take steps to establish a strategy to tackle age discrimination and promote age equality in the provision of goods and services (a) by his Department and (b) within the sector for which he has policy responsibility; and if he will make a statement. [210456]

Jonathan Shaw: We have recently produced revised gender, race and disability equality schemes which reflect our commitment to supporting an inclusive culture in DEFRA. Our revised equality schemes and diversity strategy will tackle and address age discrimination through action planning. DEFRA's diversity strategy is also aligned to the Civil Service Diversity Strategy, 2008-11.

Consultation on proposals for the Single Equality Bill, A Framework for Fairness, signalled that the Government were considering the case for prohibiting age discrimination in the provision of goods, facilities and services under a proposed single public sector duty which would be extended to cover age. DEFRA was among 4,000 organisations who have responded to the consultation supporting the view that a single public duty replacing race, disability and gender duties should cover all protected groups. The Government will publish its response to the consultation shortly.

Fisheries: Environment Protection

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether it is compulsory for fishing boats off the English coast to use pingers to deter cetaceans and other sea life. [213901]

Jonathan Shaw: On 1 January 2006 European Council Regulation (EC) 812/2004 made the use of acoustic deterrent devices (pingers) mandatory for vessels over 12 m involved in fixed gear fisheries in the Celtic Sea, Channel and Western Waters. Technical problems, however, with current designs have precluded the full deployment of acoustic deterrent devices. The Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU) has recently undertaken research on behalf of DEFRA into the effects of a bigger pinger on porpoise and dolphin distribution. We hope to have more details on the efficacy of the new pingers by spring next year.

Flood Control

Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department is taking to ensure flood defences are maintained on a regular basis; and if he will make a statement. [214080]

Mr. Woolas: We have a full programme of works across the country which is currently on course to improve protection from flooding and coastal erosion for more than 100,000 households over the 2004 spending review period (2005 to 2008). The programme comprises maintenance, repair and improvements, and is prioritised on the basis of the assets’ contribution to reducing flood risk.


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Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department is taking to ensure that adequate flood defences are in place before new housing is built in areas at risks from flooding; and if he will make a statement. [214081]

Caroline Flint: I have been asked to reply.

Where new housing is exceptionally necessary in flood risk areas, Planning Policy Statement 25 Development and Flood Risk (PPS25), aims to make it safe without increasing flood risk elsewhere. If flood defences are needed in order to allow such development to proceed, PPS25 requires these works generally to be funded by developers. As the Environment Agency is now a statutory consultee for planning applications, it is able to provide expert advice on all proposals in flood risk areas.

Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment his Department has made of the use of section 106 agreements to ensure flood defence problems caused by new developments are resolved and funded by developers; and if he will make a statement. [214082]

Mr. Iain Wright: I have been asked to reply.

No specific assessment of the use of planning obligations as regards flood defences has been carried out. Planning Policy Statement 25 Development and Flood Risk (PPS25), aims to avoid inappropriate development in flood risk areas and to direct development away from areas at highest risk. If new or improved flood defences are necessary as a result of development, PPS25 requires these works generally to be funded by the developers in line with PPS25 annex G.

Local planning authorities can develop appropriate local policies and enter into planning obligations with developers in pursuit of this policy.

Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment his Department has made of the effect that Planning Policy Statement No. 25 has had on the development of housing in areas of high flood risk; and if he will make a statement. [214083]

Caroline Flint: I have been asked to reply.

We are taking a number of initiatives to assess the effectiveness of the policies in Planning Policy Statement 25 “Development and Flood Risk” (PPS25). We are working with key stakeholders—local authorities, developers, the Environment Agency and others—to ensure PPS25 is implemented. The Environment Agency’s annual High Level Target 5 report on planning and flooding, and our analysis of applications dealt with under the flooding Direction, indicate that PPS25 policy is working. We are investigating with DEFRA the progress that local authorities are making in preparing their strategic flood risk assessments. We also plan to examine whether there are any barriers to delivery which may be hindering local authorities from implementing PPS25.

Flood Control: Bournemouth

Mr. Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 24 June 2008, Official Report, column 166W,
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on flood control: Bournemouth, what steps the Government plans to take in response to representations on potential flooding in Hengistbury Head, Bournemouth. [215374]

Mr. Woolas: Hengistbury Head peninsular will be considered under the Shoreline Management plan (SMP) review covering Poole and Christchurch Bay. In order to maximise stakeholder engagement, the Poole and Christchurch Bays SMP steering group, of which the Environment Agency is a member, created a website providing details of the process and progress on the plan.

The website allowed comments to be fed into the SMP process. The steering group also distributed an awareness raising leaflet to 500 stakeholders, including local MPs, councillors and residents' associations.

Flood Control: Planning

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will make it his policy to seek the introduction of a British Standard for flood resistant products in connection with Planning Policy Guidance 25. [214847]

Mr. Woolas: The British Standards Institution's Kitemark scheme already allows for the certification of flood resistance products. The Environment Agency supports the Kitemark scheme, as products with a Kitemark have been independently tested and proved fit for purpose. Details of the scheme and a list of certified products are available on the Environment Agency's website. The Environment Agency is sponsoring a revision of the current Kitemark scheme to update the content of the specification.

Planning Policy Statement 25 aims to avoid inappropriate development in flood risk areas by directing development to areas at lower risk to avoid and manage the risk. In exceptional circumstances where development is required in flood risk areas, it must be safe, not increase flood risk and be constructed so it is resilient to flooding.

Floods: Telephone Services

Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the cost to his Department of the (a) establishment and (b) annual operation of the proposed telephone flood warning system. [215278]

Mr. Woolas: DEFRA funds most of the Environment Agency's flood risk management including flood warning activities. The Environment Agency has informed me that the Floodline Warnings Direct system cost £14.2 million to develop and implement. The system is currently operational with over 350,000 customers registered.

The annual operational cost is currently £1.9 million.

Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department plans to take to ensure the privacy of the people whose details will be contained on the proposed telephone flood warning system. [215300]


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Mr. Woolas: The Environment Agency has informed me that the Floodline Warnings Direct system is hosted in a Fujitsu data centre which meets the international standard ISO27001 for Information Security Management. The scope of this standard is extensive, and Fujitsu's adherence to it is covered by regular BSI and internal audits. The Environment Agency adheres to the Data Protection Act regarding the collection, processing and maintenance of personal data.

Livestock: Exports

Gwyn Prosser: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) how many live lambs and sheep were exported for (a) slaughter and (b) further fattening in (i) April and (ii) May 2008; and how many of each were exported to each country of destination; [210818]

(2) how many live (a) calves, (b) adult cattle and (c) lambs and sheep were exported for (i) slaughter and (ii) further fattening in 2007; and how many of each were exported to each country of destination. [210819]

Jonathan Shaw: The information requested is currently being collected. I will write to the hon. Member as soon as possible, and place a copy of the letter in the Library of the House.

Meat: Imports

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what mechanisms are in place to ensure imported meat meets UK standards; and if he will make a statement. [212672]

Jonathan Shaw: European Community legislation requires that meat imported into the UK—and elsewhere within the EU—is produced to the same animal health and public health standards throughout. Consignments of meat must be accompanied by veterinary certification which gives guarantees that the meat has been produced according to EU rules. The European Commission carries out inspection visits to exporting third countries to ensure compliance with EU public and animal health requirements.

All consignments of meat are checked on entry into the EU. Every consignment has a documentary and identity check, that is a check on the certificate and that the consignment matches the information in the certificate. 20 per cent. of consignments of red meat and 50 per cent. of consignments of poultry meat are physically checked. A physical check may include an organoleptic check (taste, appearance and smell), a temperature check (for frozen or chilled products), and laboratory tests for contaminants.

Noise: Pollution

Mrs. Maria Miller: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when his Department will publish noise maps for major roads in England as required in the EU Environmental Noise Directive; and which roads in (a) Hampshire and (b) Basingstoke constituency will be mapped. [213949]


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Jonathan Shaw: The interactive noise mapping website which shows major roads within agglomerations was published on 16 May 2008 and is available on the DEFRA website.

Major roads mapped outside these urban areas are also available on the DEFRA website.

Mrs. Maria Miller: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when the public consultation will be held on noise maps developed to meet the requirements of the Environmental Noise (England) Regulations 2006 and Directive 2002/49/EC on environmental noise; and how the consultation will be conducted. [213981]

Jonathan Shaw: The regulations, which covered the preparation of noise maps, were consulted on in 2005.

Mrs. Maria Miller: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress has been made on a consultation to develop a national noise strategy; and if he will make a statement. [213982]

Jonathan Shaw: The Government plan to publish a combined National Noise Strategy for England, which will cover ambient and neighbourhood noise, for consultation later this year.

Oral Questions

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will discuss with the Leader of the House the number of opportunities he will have to answer oral questions from hon. Members in the remainder of 2008; and if he will make a statement. [214587]

Jonathan Shaw: DEFRA answers oral questions every five weeks in line with the order of questions rota published by the Table Office. In 2008 DEFRA has answered questions on 31 January, 13 March, 1 May and 12 June. Further sessions will take place on 17 July and 6 November.

Rural Payments Agency: Standards

Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress has been made towards meeting the Rural Payments Agency’s performance targets for 2007-08, broken down by target. [212901]

Jonathan Shaw: The Rural Payments Agency achieved all eight targets set by the Secretary of State including those for the Single Payment Scheme for the 2007-08 reporting year. The targets were announced by Lord Rooker on 26 June 2007 in his written ministerial statement.

Television

Mr. Hunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much his Department spent on (a) commissioning and (b) funding the production of television programmes in (i) each of the last three years and (ii) 2008-09 to date; what programmes these were; and which companies made them. [214009]


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Jonathan Shaw [holding answer 26 June 2008]: My Department has not commissioned or funded any television programmes in the past three years or in 2008-09.

Tree Preservation Orders: Guildford

Anne Milton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 25 April 2008, Off icial Report, column 2328W, on tree preservation orders: Guildford, whether bidders were advised no later than 19 May 2008; who the preferred bidder is; and whether legal completion of the sale is still expected to take place on or before 2 July 2008. [209918]

Joan Ruddock: I can confirm that all bidders were advised as to the status of their bid on or before 19 May. A purchaser was identified via the formal tender process;
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a contract was exchanged on 19 May; and completion is still scheduled for 2 July 2008.


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