Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what meetings (a) he and (b) his Ministers have held with representatives of the National Union of Mineworkers in the last six months; what the date was of each such meeting; and if he will make a statement. 
Martin Horwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the volume and proportion of the annual potato crop which has been treated with anti-blight spray in each of the last three years. 
Mr. Woolas: Anti-blight sprays are applied to main crop potatoes. Data from recent pesticide usage surveys indicate that approximately 97 per cent. of the crop is treated each year. Estimates for the volume of harvested UK production treated for blight are:
2007: 5.3m tonnes;
2006: 5.4m tonnes;
2005: 5.6m tonnes.
Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what guidance his Department has issued on the use of hormonal weed killers on crops which are likely to enter the food chain. 
Mr. Woolas [holding answer 21 July 2008]: Certain hormonal weed killers have the potential to remain in plant material from treated land and pass into the manure of livestock which eat such material. Susceptible crops may be adversely affected by the residues in the plant material. Labels of certain products which contain particular hormonal week killers therefore include warnings not to use manure from livestock which have eaten grass from treated land, or fodder derived from such grass, on susceptible crops or on land intended for growing such crops, until all plant material has fully decomposed. As with all plant protection products, users should always read and follow the label instructions; this is a statutory requirement.
Some cases of damage to susceptible crops which appear to involve the weed killer aminopyralid have arisen recently. In such cases, the label precautions on the use of manure may not have been followed when manure has been supplied to allotment holders and gardeners. The manufacturer has indicated that they are withdrawing products which contain aminopyralid from sale and PSD is formally suspending their authorisations while they investigate the options for preventing a recurrence of this problem. A key issue in their consideration will be whether the conditions of use regarding manure are sufficient, or sufficiently well known.
Mr. Woolas [holding answer 21 July 2008]: The first inquiry relating to the potential effects of the hormonal herbicide aminopyralid in manure was received by the Pesticides Safety Directorate's helpline on 12 March 2008. Around 90 inquiries had been received up to 16 July 2008, primarily from amateur gardeners and allotment holders. It is not known how many reports of damage to crops are attributable to aminopyralid.
Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the effect on British farming of the proposed EU prohibition on the use of certain agrochemicals. 
Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the effect of the Sandridge bromate contamination on (a) the Mimram River and (b) chalk aquifers in Hertfordshire. 
Mr. Woolas: The River Mimram lies outside the area of contamination. Sampling has shown that groundwater between the plume and the Mimram contains no bromate. Given these data and the generally stable nature of the plume the Environment Agency is confident that the Mimram is not, and will not be, subject to contamination by bromate.
Contamination of the chalk aquifer in Hertfordshire extends 20 km from Sandridge to the Lee Valley between Ware and Turnford, which includes Hoddesdon and Broxbourne. One borehole has been taken out of use for public supply. The contamination has restricted the use that can be made of seven other public supply boreholes and three private boreholes. The three private boreholes are all close to Sandridge. Concentrations of bromate and the size of the plume show no change with time.
Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how frequently the Environment Agency tests the levels of lead in incineration bottom ash; and on how many occasions in the last five years it has found levels of lead in such ash which exceeded the levels at which such waste can be sent to non-hazardous landfill. 
Joan Ruddock: The Environment Agency does not test the levels of lead in incinerator bottom ash (IBA). However, through a permit condition, incinerator operators are required to monitor IBA on a quarterly basis for a suite of metals including lead.
Non-hazardous landfill operators have to ensure they comply with the limits specified in their landfill permit and waste acceptance criteria before accepting a waste for disposal. Records of levels of lead in IBA that have exceeded the levels at which they can be sent to non-hazardous landfill are not held centrally and would incur disproportionate cost to collate.
Mr. Woolas: DEFRA's Radioactive Waste and Preparedness team deals with a range of issues including radioactive waste management, radioactive discharges, related legislation and DEFRA's response to chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) incidents. The team is made up of about 25 staff.
Joan Ruddock: National data on household recycling rates are only available down to local authority level. Halifax is within Calderdale metropolitan borough council and the household recycling rates for Calderdale are shown in the following table.
|Recycling and composting rate (Percentage)
These household recycling rates were reported to the Audit Commission by Calderdale under the best value performance regime and measure performance on dry recycling and composting. There have been some changes in the definitions of the waste indicators over time which may affect the comparability of data. Nevertheless, the figures show a clear increase in Calderdales recycling rate since 1997.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps the Government (a) have taken and (b) plan to take to assist low income families with recycling. 
Joan Ruddock: We do not consider that low income groups are less able to reduce and recycle their waste than those on higher incomes. However we encourage local authorities to consider any groups that may require extra support and how best to provide this.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the number of new jobs created in rural areas in each region in England in each of the last five years. 
As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question on what estimate he has made of the number of new jobs created in rural areas in each region in England in each of the last five years. .
While statistics of new jobs created are not available explicitly, statistics from surveys enable comparisons to be made of net changes in employment from year to year.
The Office for National Statistics compiles employment statistics from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) following International Labour Organisation definitions.
The attached table provides estimates of the number of people aged 16 and over, in employment, resident in rural areas by Government Office Region of residence, and the net change year on year.
Figures are for the three months ending June for each year from 2005 to 2007, the latest available. Figures prior to 2005 are not available due to the rural breakdown requested.
As with any survey, results from the LFS are subject to a margin of uncertainty.
|Table 1: Number of people aged 16 and over in employment in rural areas( 1) and net change by Government office region of residence for April to June quarter in each year
|Thousands, not seasonally adjusted
|(1) Estimates of the rural breakdown are provided using the URIND variable, which was introduced in spring 2005 As with any survey, results from the LFS are subject to a margin of uncertainty.
Labour Force Survey