Previous Section Index Home Page

9 Oct 2008 : Column 734W—continued

Poultry: EU Law

Kerry McCarthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what stocking density maximum for broiler chickens will be used in implementing the EU Broiler Chicken Directive; and if he will make a statement. [222547]

Hilary Benn: A full public consultation will be undertaken early next year on the regulations that will implement the EU Broiler Chicken Directive, including provisions on stocking density.

Recreation Spaces

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent steps the Government have taken to increase protection of public green spaces. [221828]

9 Oct 2008 : Column 735W

Hilary Benn: The planning system provides strong protection for open spaces that communities need. Planning Policy Guidance Note 17; ‘Open Space, Sport and Recreation’ states that existing open spaces and land should not be built on unless an assessment has been undertaken by the local authority which has clearly shown the open space or land to be surplus to the requirements of the local community, taking into account all the functions that open space can perform.

PPG17 advises local authorities to make provision for all types of public open space and expects local authorities to undertake robust assessments of local needs and audits of existing open space and to establish standards for new provision. On the basis of these assessments and audits, local authorities should plan to meet future needs of their population (e.g. linked to new housing developments) and can place standards of provision in their development plan. ‘Planning Policy Statement 3 Housing’ says that local planning authorities should have clear policies for the protection and creation of open space, and new housing developments should incorporate sufficient provision where such spaces are not already adequately provided within easy access of the new housing.

Where land is registered as a town or village green, the land is protected from development in perpetuity. Section 15 of the Commons Act 2006 was commenced in England in April last year, in line with commitments given during the Bill's passage through Parliament, to clarify the criteria for the registration of greens.

Part 1 of the Commons Act 2006 contains mainly registration-related provisions which allow for the registers to be updated to create an accurate record of common land and greens. Accurate registers will underpin our objective to provide for the protection and better management of commons and greens for generations to come. Part 1 is being piloted from October 2008 with a view to a staged national commencement from 2010.

Sewers: Churches

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what exemptions from charges for (a) rainwater and (b) sewage services apply to properties owned by churches; what the charitable treatment of churches is in respect of charges for (i) water run-off and (ii) sewerage services; and if he will make a statement. [218640]

Hilary Benn [holding answer 14 July 2008]: Places of public religious worship, and buildings used in connection with them, were traditionally zero rated under the rateable value system of charging, meaning that they did not have to pay surface water drainage (SWD) charges.

In 2000 the then Secretary of State issued guidance on matters to be taken into account by Ofwat in agreeing companies’ charging schemes, including charging non-household users that are not businesses, including places of worship, community facilities, charities and voluntary bodies. The guidance stated that those making similar demands on a service should be charged on the same basis. It also made clear that where premises impose customer-related costs in line with or lower than those of typical households, they should be able to benefit from tariffs which reflect their small demand on the
9 Oct 2008 : Column 736W
water system. It also stated that the phasing in of any large, sudden changes in charges should be considered.

Ministers are currently reviewing the impact of these changes.

Sheep: Ear Tagging

Mr. Wallace: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much his Department has spent on sheep ear tag inspections since December 2007. [223695]

Hilary Benn: From 1 January 2008 to 10 September 2008 we have spent £334,331.22 on statutory sheep and goat identification inspections.

Mr. Wallace: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department takes to ensure that inspectors planning to carry out inspections of sheep tags on mixed farms take account of the farm year cycle. [223696]

Hilary Benn: The Rural Payments Agency Inspectorate plans to complete the majority of sheep and goat inspections during the winter months when livestock are more readily available for inspection. However, due to the number and geographical distribution of inspections required to be completed and competing scheme inspection pressures, a minority of inspections will be completed during the summer months. In these instances the inspectorate endeavours to work with the keeper to minimise any disruption to other farming operations. All sheep and goat identification inspections must be undertaken unannounced, in practice this means an inspector can provide a maximum of 48 hours’ notice.

South East

Dr. Stoate: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much his Department spent on services, broken down by type, in (a) Dartford Borough, (b) Kent Thameside, (c) the Thames Gateway, (d) Kent County Council area and (e) the South East region in each of the last five years. [222445]

Hilary Benn: Services for which DEFRA has a responsibility are normally provided by local authorities and supported through formula grant administered by the Department for Communities and Local Government. Formula grant, which comprises Revenue Support Grant, redistributed business rates and principal formula Police Grant, where appropriate, is an unhypothecated block grant i.e. authorities are free to spend this on any service so long as they meet their statutory obligations. Spending decisions for the local areas mentioned are a matter for the local authorities concerned.

In addition, DEFRA provides some limited direct support to local authorities, such as small capital grants for air quality monitoring and contaminated land remediation. DEFRA also provides funding to the regional development agencies, including the South East of England Development Agency, through the Single Programme.

Full details of the funding provided by DEFRA to the local authorities named, and to the south east region as a whole, over the last five years, are available only at disproportionate cost.

9 Oct 2008 : Column 737W


Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what arrangements his Department has in place to assist officials to overcome the effects of stress experienced in the workplace. [222173]

Hilary Benn: The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is committed to the well-being of its employees. It has a number of procedures in place to reduce stress at work based on the Health and Safety Executive’s management standards, and these give easy to use advice on the successful prevention, recognition and management of stress at work.

Trees: Genetically Modified Organisms

Mrs. Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the environmental implications of the commercial production of GM trees. [221923]

Hilary Benn: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to my right hon. Friend the Member for Oxford, East (Mr. Smith) on 14 July 2008, Official Report, column 31W.

Waste and Resources Action Programme

Mrs. Hodgson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which local authorities have received funding from the Waste and Resources Action Programme in the last two years. [222742]

Hilary Benn: The Waste and Resources Action Programme provided funding to the following individual local authorities, or local authority partnerships, during the two years of their third business plan (April 2006 to March 2008):

Individual local authorities

9 Oct 2008 : Column 738W

Local authority partnerships (listed by lead authority)

9 Oct 2008 : Column 739W

Next Section Index Home Page