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21 Oct 2008 : Column 172W—continued


Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what reports he has received on allegations that the fishing vessel Prolific discarded in UK waters fish that were caught in the Norwegian Exclusive Economic Zone; and if he will make a statement. [228132]

Huw Irranca-Davies: The Norwegians have made their concerns known to me. We are now working with them, the Commission and other member states to deliver a package of measures which will make our fisheries more sustainable in the future and significantly reduce the scale of discarding.


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Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the amount of fish caught within the Norwegian Exclusive Economic Zone by UK vessels and discarded in UK and other EU member state waters in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement. [228133]

Huw Irranca-Davies: Information on the scale of such discards is not available.

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 12 December 2007, Official Report, column 708W, on fishing: catches, whether there has been an improvement in the discard data received by the European Commission; whether the provisions of Council Regulation 1543/2000 in relation to collecting discard data are now being met by all member states; whether the Commission has taken any action against those member states not providing discard data; and if he will make a statement. [228137]

Huw Irranca-Davies: The answer of 12 December 2007 refers to a report by the Subgroup of the Commission's Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) on the Assessment of the EU's Fishing Effort Regime. This group has met again during 2008, but its final report is not yet available. However, I understand that there have been improvements in the provision of discard data in the interim, with information provided to the 2008 meetings by Belgium, France and Denmark for the first time. Some countries, including Ireland, collect discard data, but this is not used by the Subgroup for technical reasons.

I am not aware of whether the Commission is taking action against member states that are still not providing the requisite information.

Flood Control: Finance

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much the Environment Agency has spent on building flood defences in 2008. [227768]

Jane Kennedy: The following table identifies the capital, revenue and local levy expenditure from the start of the financial year to the end of September 2008. The figures are in line with the Environment Agency's expenditure forecast.

Flood defence grant in aid expenditure—year to date
£ million
Regions Capital (Actual) Revenue (Actual) Local levy (Actual) Total expenditure

Anglian

37.9

17.3

2.4

57.6

Midlands

9.7

11.2

0.5

21.4

North-east

9

10.4

1.2

20.6

North-west

9.3

12.4

1.7

23.4

Southern

5.8

11.8

0.4

18.0

South-west

11.5

12.7

3.2

27.4

Thames

11.6

20.8

6.0

38.4

Total English regions

94.8

96.6

15.4

206.8

Head office

10.4

25.2

35.6

Total FDGiA expenditure

105.2

121.8

227.0


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The Environment Agency has also paid out £19.5 million of grant to local authorities and internal drainage boards for coastal and non main river projects that they are delivering.

Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much was spent per head on flood protection in (a) rural and (b) urban areas in 2007-08. [227915]

Jane Kennedy: The Environment Agency directs flood risk expenditure into areas which are most at risk of flooding, it does not make a distinction between urban and rural when defining flood risk.

In the 2007-08 financial year, the Government provided approximately £600 million funding for effective management of flood and coastal erosion protection in England.

Floods: Finance

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what funding is available from (a) his Department and (b) the Environment Agency for communities for solutions to their flooding problems; and what the reasons were for the rejection of the Water 21 bid from Gloucestershire by his Department. [225436]

Jane Kennedy: The Environment Agency's flood alleviation schemes are funded either through DEFRA grant in aid or from a local levy on councils by the Regional Flood Defence Committee (RFDC).

The Environment Agency aims to work with communities at risk of flooding to devise technically and environmentally feasible schemes which can be put forward to the RFDC for local levy funding.

In the Midlands region the Environment Agency is currently putting 22 candidate local levy schemes forward to the RFDC. The decision on which ones will be funded lies with the RFDC members and will include consideration of relative costs and benefits.

A number of communities have also raised their own funding towards the cost of flood defence schemes and contributions may also be available from public authority departments (such as highways), increases to parish council precepts, local fundraising events and individuals.

The Water 21 bid is promoted by the Gloucestershire Local Strategic Partnership and while the Environment Agency was a consultee it was not a funding decision maker.

Joint Nature Conservation Committee

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the reasons are for reducing the budget for the Joint Nature Conservation Committee in 2009-10 compared to 2008-09. [228049]

Huw Irranca-Davies: The overall budget for the Joint Nature Conservation Committee in 2009-10 has yet to be finalised.


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Koi Herpesvirus

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he is taking to prevent the spread of koi herpesvirus outbreaks; what estimate he has made of the number of koi herpesvirus outbreaks in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement. [228134]

Huw Irranca-Davies: The Government make a significant contribution to protecting fish against disease. Legislation was introduced in April 2007 which brought in for the first time domestic controls of koi herpesvirus (KHV) and made it a notifiable disease in the UK. We will be bringing in shortly broad legislation to implement Council Directive 2006/88 and to provide further protective measures against spread of disease. These notably will include the requirement for fish farms and importers of ornamental fish to be authorised and for angling clubs to be registered. Prior to KHV disease becoming notifiable in April 2007, outbreak numbers were not officially recorded and so are unreliable. Since April 2007 there have been 22 confirmed outbreaks, 10 cases in 2007 and 12 new outbreaks confirmed so far this year.

Marine Animals: Biodiversity

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what his latest assessment is of the effect that non-native species are having on the UK’s marine environment and freshwater fisheries; and if he will make a statement. [228076]

Huw Irranca-Davies: Novel alien species continue to appear in UK waters. Pathways include entry via commercial shipping (e.g. hull fouling, ballast water transfers) and the pet trade (aquarium and garden pond plants and animals released by the general public to open waters). The complexity of the aquatic environment means the impact of non-native fish introductions on our freshwater fisheries is often difficult to detect.

It has long been recognised that the spread of non-native species can have far-reaching and undesirable ecological consequences for animal and plant communities in the marine environment and freshwater fisheries. Introduced non-native fish can have direct effects on native species, for example by predation, competition (for space and food) hybridisation (inter-breeding), or can upset the natural balance that operates between native species. Non-native species can also introduce and spread novel diseases and parasites to which our native species may have little or no resistance.

Once established it can be extremely difficult and costly, and in some cases impossible, to control or eradicate an invasive species. While not all introduced non-native species will become invasive, they can still have adverse impacts. Given this, and the fact that their precise impact can be unpredictable, a precautionary approach is appropriate for managing the keeping and release of such species.

My Department recognises the threats that non-native species can pose to marine and freshwater environments and has supported the development of risk analysis protocols to identify introduced species of potentially high risk, and where possible to assess in advance the impacts posed by these species. Following on from the DEFRA review of non-native species policy, a body has
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now been established, the GB Non-native Species Mechanism, to review the problems posed by non-native species and, as appropriate, to co-ordinate control and eradication measures by the appropriate agencies.

The key measure in controlling the spread of non-native fish has been the Import of Live Fish Act (ILFA). Under the ILFA Orders it is illegal to keep or release any of the listed species in any water (including tanks and ponds) without a licence. Any person wishing to hold, keep or release any of the listed species is required to be in possession of a licence before obtaining the fish. Some introductions of species already present in England and Wales are allowed, where there is demonstrable benefits and there is no risk to the wider environment. But, there is a presumption against approving consents for the introduction of new non-native populations.

In Wales the Welsh Assembly Government are looking into reintroducing consents under the Molluscan Shellfish (Control of Deposit) Order 1974 to attempt to prevent accidental introductions and the countryside council for Wales along with the main mussel producers in the Menai Straits have produced a code of good practice to avoid introductions. The countryside council for Wales have also distributed ‘wanted cards’ to help identify 8 marine non-native invasive species.

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he is taking to (a) prevent non-native invasive species entering the UK and (b) remove non-native invasive species already present in the UK; and if he will make a statement. [228077]

Huw Irranca-Davies: DEFRA and the devolved administrations operate regimes which aim to prevent the entry of certain non-native species into the UK, such as inspections under plant health legislation. In the course of their work DEFRA’s plant health and seeds inspectors and their equivalents in the devolved administrations inspect consignments of plants and plant products to ensure that they are free of non-native plant pests and diseases of concern.

However some non-native species legitimately used, for example in horticulture, as pets or in research can also have the potential to become invasive. It is important therefore to prevent their introduction into the wild. In May, jointly with the Scottish Executive and Welsh Assembly Government, my Department published the Invasive Non-Native Species Framework Strategy for Great Britain. This sets out our proposals for more effective and better co-ordinated action to tackle invasive non-native species. Prevention of the introduction of such species into the wild is one of the key themes to which other parts of the strategy will also contribute. In addition to existing measures such as legislative controls under wildlife and fisheries legislation we plan to implement a structured programme of work on raising awareness and education both generally and in a targeted way, developing effective risk analysis capacity, implementing online reporting with improved surveillance and monitoring, and to develop capacity to respond quickly to future threats.

Management of invasive species already established in the UK must be considered on a case by case approach which will take into account the feasibility and scale at which action could effectively be taken. The Strategy
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offers a framework for such decision-making at a national scale. Control options will vary from national, regional or local eradication to management or containment.

Northern Ireland is working with the Republic of Ireland on a similarly strategic approach.

Marine Bill: Draft

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which organisations and interests will be represented on the proposed Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities under the Marine Bill, if enacted; and if he will make a statement. [228048]

Huw Irranca-Davies: The maximum size of each Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (IFCA) shall be 21 members. The organisations and interests to be represented on each IFCA, and their relative split, include:

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many marine conservation zones he plans to establish under the provisions of the Marine Bill if enacted; what sea areas this will cover; and if he will make a statement. [228068]

Huw Irranca-Davies: It is too early to predict the number, size or location of marine conservation zones (MCZs) that will be designated under the proposed Marine Bill. This will depend on the outcome of work which will be undertaken with involvement from stakeholders over the next three years.

Our intention is that the Bill should provide for MCZs to be designated in those areas of the sea over which the UK Government have responsibility, that is English territorial waters and all UK offshore waters. The Welsh Ministers are also seeking powers, through the Bill, to designate MCZs in Welsh territorial waters.

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether he plans to retain the provisions relating to coastal access in the Draft Marine Bill in the Marine Bill; and if he will make a statement. [228078]

Hilary Benn: Yes.


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