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22 July 2008 : Column 1000Wcontinued
Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent steps he has taken to increase capacity for the production of biogas through industrial anaerobic digestion technologies. 
Joan Ruddock: The Government are committed to making the most of the potential of anaerobic digestion. It supports our objectives for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, generating renewable energy, and diverting organic material, especially food waste, from landfill. In addition, the treated materialthe digestatecan be returned to the land as a fertiliser.
The consultation on the UK Renewable Energy Strategy, which was published on 26 June 2008 (available on the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reforms website), sets out the steps we are proposing to help promote anaerobic digestion. Specific support includes the Bioenergy Capital Grants Scheme, which supports the installation of biomass-fuelled heat and combined heat and power projects in the industrial, commercial and community sectors in England. We have also recently announced a new £10 million programme to support the construction of new anaerobic digestion demonstration plants, and we are doubling the incentive to generate energy through AD by changes to the renewables obligation. In addition, the Rural Development Programme for England provides support to develop energy projects or small scale on-farm renewable energy technologies (including anaerobic digestion).
We are working with key stakeholders to identify any barriers to the uptake of anaerobic digestion and ways to address these.
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the population of breeding wading birds and wintering waterbirds in (a) privately-owned and (b) publicly-owned land in the Somerset Levels and Moors was in (i) 1987 and (ii) at the most recent date for which figures are available. 
Joan Ruddock: It is not possible to give an indication of populations of birds split between private and publicly owned land, because of the complexity of land ownership.
There have been comprehensive surveys of the breeding waders of the Somerset Levels and Moors since 1977. These generally take place every five or six years. In 1987, a total of 278 breeding pairs were found to be present across 16 sites. The breakdown was as follows:
Curlew 27 pairs; Lapwing 144 pairs; Redshank 44 pairs; and Snipe 63 pairs.
The last comprehensive survey of waders on the 16 sites was in 2002, when a total of 284 breeding pairs were recorded. The breakdown was:
Curlew 36 pairs; Lapwing 127 pairs; Redshank 69 pairs; and Snipe 52 pairs.
Data on wintering water birds on the Somerset Levels and Moors are collected and reported through the Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS), launched in 1993.
|WeBS counts 1993 to 2006, Somerset Levels and Moors|
Mr. Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what consideration he has given to the decision by the Welsh Assembly Government to carry out targeted culls on badgers as a measure to tackle the wildlife reservoir of bovine tuberculosis as part of his policy formulation in this area. 
Jonathan Shaw: The ministerial decision in Wales allows Welsh Assembly officials to consider all the options for culling badgers as part of an intensive action area. Final decisions on what this will involve are not expected before the end of the year. Bovine TB control is a devolved matter, and Wales have responsibility for defining their own strategy for bovine TB control.
If badger culls do take place in Wales, their effects will be considered as part of our overall TB strategy.
Paddy Tipping: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he last met representatives of the bromine industry. 
Mr. Woolas [holding answer 21 July 2008]: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Hilary Benn) and I regularly meet representatives of the chemical industry but we have had no contacts with representatives of the bromine industry in particular or discussions relating to that sector.
David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what resources his Department is making available to research the effectiveness and safety of new environmentally-friendly alternative flame retardants which do not include the use of deca-BDE. 
Mr. Woolas: In 2003 the Environment Agency commissioned a report on the Prioritisation of Flame Retardants for Environmental Risk Assessment. The aim of the study was to assess the use of and risks associated with flame retardants, in particular to identify substances that might require detailed consideration in terms of their possible impact on the environment. It also considered issues concerning substitution of flame retardants. The study noted that little was known about the effects of many of the substances, including those sometimes proposed for use as environmentally-friendly substitutes.
The new European Regulation on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (known as REACH) places on industry the responsibility to assess and understand the potential human health and environmental impacts of the substances they produce in accordance with the principle of No Data, No Market. REACH also has the aim of replacing substances of very high concern, as defined by criteria in the regulation, with suitable alternatives. Industry will have to justify their continued use. These provisions will drive substitution of harmful substances and also provide the assurance that the substitutes are less harmful than the substances they replace. On current evidence decabromodiphenyl ether (deca-BDE) does not meet the criteria of a substance of very high concern.
Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discount rate was used in the figures set out in the analysis in the Climate Change Bill Financial Impact Assessment. 
Mr. Woolas: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 18 June 2008, Official Report, column 929W.
Mr. Lilley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs further to the answer of 10 July 2008, Official Report, columns 1775-6W, on carbon emissions, what the implications of the Stern Review are for the tools that are used in Government to perform cost-benefit analysis, with particular reference to the appropriate discount rate to use. 
Mr. Woolas [holding answer 17 July 2008]: The Stern Review analysed, from a global perspective, the question of whether or not to take global action to avoid dangerous climate change. The methodological approach adopted by the Stern Review in answering this question has implications for the appropriate discount rate to use in cost-benefit analysis under certain specific circumstances, and more generally for the appropriate approach to use to value greenhouse gas emissions in cost-benefit analysis.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what statutory means are at his disposal to press farmers to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. 
Mr. Woolas: There are currently no regulations or statutory instruments which place a direct requirement on farmers to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. However, a number of measures have an indirect impact on agriculture GHG emissions, such as measures under the nitrates directive and conditions under cross-compliance. There are also a number of voluntary initiatives which can help to reduce GHGs from farming, including the Environmental Stewardship schemes and various grant schemes.
DEFRA has a programme of research dedicated to agriculture and climate change issues which includes research into reducing emissions from livestock, manure and fertiliser application, as well as measures to protect carbon stores in soils. We are working closely with relevant stakeholders, including through the Rural Climate Change Forum and the Farming Futures communications project, to help ensure that farmers have the information and advice they need to take practical action to reduce GHG emissions. As such, we are promoting anaerobic digestion to reduce methane emissions from manure, slurry and other organic material.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what photographic and video evidence of cetaceans being caught in nets has been obtained through Government-funded research programmes in the UK in the last 15 years; which Ministers and officials have seen the evidence; who holds the evidence; and if he will publish the evidence. 
Jonathan Shaw: I understand that video and photographic material was collected by the Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU) prior to 2003 as part of their research project into the effects of fishing trawlers on dolphins and porpoises around the UK. DEFRA does not hold, nor was it supplied with, this material.
Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what estimate he has made of the quantity of private land affected by the creation of the coastal corridor proposed in the draft Marine Bill; 
(2) what estimate he has made of the amount of compensation payable to private landowners consequent on the creation of the coastal corridor proposed in the draft Marine Bill; 
(3) what estimate he has made of the cost of the creation of the coastal corridor proposed in the draft Marine Bill. 
Jonathan Shaw: Natural England will consult with landowners before making proposals on the most appropriate positioning of the coastal route. The amount of private land affected by the creation of the coastal corridor will depend on local decisions.
The draft Marine Bill makes no provision for compensation to be paid to private landowners for the creation of the coastal access corridor. Natural Englands report to Government recommended that there should be a working presumption against paying compensation for the new right of access in view of the fact that legislation would be simply creating access rights over land rather than depriving landowners of property. The legislation has been drawn up so that implementation will take account of the interests of landowners and minimise any impact on businesses. Natural England will consult with landowners on any necessary conditions on access, for example for land management purposes.
Natural England has estimated a cost of £50 million over 10 years for implementing the coastal access corridor. This figure includes the costs of Natural England and local authority staff, the costs for establishing the coastal access corridor on the ground, and for ongoing maintenance during the implementation period.
Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations he has received on the creation of a coastal corridor proposed in the draft Marine Bill. 
Jonathan Shaw: 3,929 responses were received to the public consultation on the draft Marine Bill which closed on 26 June 2008. We also received about 11,000 postcards from members of the Ramblers Association supporting the inclusion of coastal access provisions in the draft Bill. We are currently looking at the responses to the consultation and will publish a summary of the responses within 12 weeks of the consultation closing.
Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans his Department has to improve access to coastal areas in the UK. 
Jonathan Shaw: A proposal for Natural England to identify a coastal route and associated coastal margin around the English coast, to which there will be a right of access on foot, is contained in the draft Marine Bill. In Wales, the Welsh Assembly Government are considering appropriate statutory provisions for Wales which might be included in the final Bill. In Scotland, the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 provides a statutory right of access to most land and inland water, and access in Northern Ireland is covered by the Access to Countryside (NI) Order 1983.
Mr. Martlew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans he has to increase the number of people working in his Department in Cumbria. 
Jonathan Shaw: The majority of DEFRA staff working in Cumbria are located in Carlisle, Penrith and Workington.
Animal Health has an office at Carlisle that is staffed at a level to carry out duties effectively. Currently there are no immediate plans to increase staff levels.
Present staffing levels within the Rural Payments Agency are sufficient to meet present business needs and are expected to remain reasonably constant going forward, although processes and structures are constantly under review for efficiency purposes.
There are currently no plans to increase staff numbers at the Veterinary Laboratory Agency's office in Penrith.
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the financial position of the dairy industry; and what the current farm gate price for milk is. 
Jonathan Shaw: DEFRA published farm incomes in England by farm type in January 2008. These were based on figures from the Farm Business Survey. Farm Business Income per farm on dairy farms was expected to have increased to £50,700 in the year ended February 2008, from £33,600 in the previous yearan increase of about 50 per cent. This was largely due to a higher farm gate milk price in 2007-08, although higher input costs, particularly feed, dampened down the size of the expected increase. This compares with the average income across all types of farms, including dairy farms, which was expected to have increased by 20 per cent. from £37,600 to £45,000 in 2007-08. DEFRA will publish actual incomes for the year ended February 2008 in October this year, and forecast incomes for the year ending February 2009 in January 2009.
In May 2008 the farm gate price of milk in the UK was 24.45p per litre compared with 17.53p per litre in May 2007.
Mr. Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many staff in his Department and its agencies have been (a) dismissed and (b) disciplined for their conduct in the last two years. 
Jonathan Shaw: The number of staff dismissed and disciplined for their conduct by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and its agencies during the last two financial years, 2006-07 and 2007-08 are as follows:
Nine staff dismissed from DEFRA
27 Staff dismissed from DEFRA agencies
Six staff disciplined within DEFRA
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