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Food: Waste Disposal

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what proposals he has to develop the energy market for wood waste. [231009]


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Jane Kennedy: DEFRA has a project to take forward the policy on waste wood set out in the Waste Strategy 2007. As an initial step, DEFRA published an information report 'Waste Wood as a Biomass Fuel' in April 2008, prepared in consultation with waste wood recyclers and other stakeholders. As a practical follow-up step to this report, we are encouraging local authorities applying for waste private finance initiative (PFI) credits in support of their waste infrastructure procurements to include plans for waste wood collection and supply.

Landfill

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what deadline the Government have set on the consultation for imposing legal restrictions on the types of waste that can be sent to landfill. [231007]

Jane Kennedy: In the England Waste Strategy 2007, the Government said that subject to further analysis, they intended to consult on whether the introduction of further restrictions on the landfilling of biodegradable and recyclable wastes would make an effective contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing resource efficiency.

DEFRA has commissioned research into how such restrictions have worked in other countries and how this experience might translate into the UK context. We anticipate that this research will be completed early next year and we will consult on any proposals flowing from it as soon as possible thereafter.

Milk

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many litres of milk were (a) produced and (b) consumed daily in England in the latest period for which figures are available. [231922]

Jane Kennedy: 8,645 million litres of milk were produced on farm in England in 2007 (equivalent to 23.7 million litres per day). Most of this milk goes to dairies for processing. In 2007, just over half the milk delivered to UK dairies was used for liquid milk and just under half was used to make other dairy products (cheese, butter etc.). It is estimated that about 12.8 million litres of liquid milk is produced in England each day. The dairies sell the liquid milk for consumption as liquid drinking milk or for further manufacture.

Households in England purchased an average of 11.3 million litres of drinking milk each day in 2006. This excludes milk consumed outside the home (e.g. milk in drinks bought in cafés).

Noise: Roads

Mrs. Maria Miller: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he expects the Traffic Noise Action plans based on the noise maps published in May 2008 to be published; what organisation will be tasked with delivering upon those plans; and what funds he has allocated to support implementation of the plans. [228566]


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Huw Irranca-Davies [holding answer 20 October 2008]: We plan to consult on a draft action plan for major roads very shortly. The competent authority for the plan is the Secretary of State but we will liaise with the Highways Agency and local Highways Authorities on the implementation of it. Any measures identified in the plan will have to be funded from existing or planned future resources.

Packaging: Recycling

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how he has implemented the EU directive target's of 60 per cent. recovery and 55 per cent. recycling of packaging waste in 2008. [231012]

Jane Kennedy: The EU directive on packaging and packaging waste (2004/12/EC) requires all member states to ensure that a minimum of 60 per cent. of all packaging waste is recovered (of which 55 per cent. must be recycled). The directive specifies material specific recovery/recycling targets of 60 per cent. for glass, 60 per cent. for paper/board, 50 per cent. for metals, 22.5 per cent. for plastics and 15 per cent. for wood. We are currently on track to achieve these targets by 31 December 2008.

The UK has transposed this directive through two pieces of legislation—the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations (Amendment) 2008 and the Packaging (Essential Requirements) Regulations 2003 (as amended).

Under the producer responsibility regulations, companies must ensure that a proportion of the packaging they handle is recovered and recycled. The amount they must recycle depends on how much packaging they handle, the activities they have carried out with that packaging e.g. retailing, packer filling and the targets set by the Government. Small companies or companies who do not handle much packaging are exempted from the regulations.

The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) has been working with retailers, brands and manufacturers to reduce packaging waste. WRAP has been working specifically to increase the amount of recycled material used by the UK manufacturing sector, to promote recycling by consumers and householders and advising local authorities on their recycling schemes.

River Mimram: Pollution

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will commission research from the Environment Agency on (a) bromate levels in the River Mimram and (b) the extent to which bromate contamination has spread in Hertfordshire in the last six months. [228541]

Jane Kennedy: The Environment Agency carries out regular monitoring of groundwater and surface water. In the last two years the Environment Agency has sampled 93 locations monthly, quarterly or annually. Monitoring has not included the River Mimram because results from other locations indicate that groundwater between the plume and the Mimram does not contain bromate. The Environment Agency's monthly program of sampling surface waters will be extended to include locations on the Mimram.


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The Environment Agency carries out monitoring designed to detect any change in bromate contamination of surface waters and groundwater. This has shown that the plume of contaminated groundwater is not spreading or changing significantly in concentration.

Sheep: Electronic Tagging

Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate his Department has made of the number of sheep in England which will be required to comply with Council Regulation 21/2004 on electronic identification. [230772]

Jane Kennedy: All sheep born on or after 31 December 2009 will need to comply with the rules on electronic identification (EID). However, the legislation provides for a possible derogation whereby those animals born after 31 December 2009 and intended for slaughter by 12 months of age can be identified with a batch tag. We will consult shortly on measures to limit the impact of EID on sheep keepers in England, including the extent to which the slaughter derogation should be adopted.

Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the cost of (a) implementing and (b) running per annum the measures required under Council Regulation 21/2004 on electronic identification (i) for a flock of sheep of average size and (ii) per sheep. [230773]

Jane Kennedy: The cost of electronic identification (EID) will vary according to the type and scale of farm businesses. Therefore it is not possible to provide a definitive cost of implementing and running the EID scheme.

A draft partial regulatory impact assessment for England is available on the DEFRA website. This document is a work in progress and is currently under review.

Taxis

Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much (a) his Department and (b) its agencies spent on taxis in the last financial year for which figures are available. [223031]

Huw Irranca-Davies: From information held centrally, the core-Department's financial system records a VAT inclusive expenditure on taxis in the financial year 2007-08 of £265,529.71. This figure excludes expenditure with the Government Car and Dispatch Agency (GCDA).

Trees

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will fund a long-term monitoring programme of amenity trees. [228384]

Huw Irranca-Davies: DEFRA has no current plans to fund a long-term monitoring programme of amenity trees.


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Waste Disposal

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will take steps to increase separation, collection, recycling and recovery of household decorative paints and garden chemicals. [231006]

Jane Kennedy: In Waste Strategy 2007, the Government endorsed the National Household Hazardous Waste Forum's "Haz Guide", which provides advice on the management of household hazardous waste including paints, solvents and garden chemicals and can be found on the forum's website. We also recognised the good work undertaken by schemes such as "Community RePaint" which encourages the re-use of unwanted paint in local communities and shows what can be achieved on a voluntary basis.

Waste Management

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will place in the Library copies of those papers produced for the Waste 2008 conference held in Stratford upon Avon during 16 and 17 September 2008 held by his Department, the Waste and Resources Action Programme and the Environment Agency. [230197]

Jane Kennedy: The Waste 2008 conference was sponsored by DEFRA, Organics Group plc, Golder Associates (UK) Ltd, Enviros Consulting Ltd and Gerald Eve. The event was also supported by the Environmental Services Association and the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management.

The conference organisers, Waste Conference Ltd, have agreed to provide complementary copies of the proceedings, which I have placed in the Library.

Contributors included in the proceedings are published under the direct responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the above named organisations.

Waste Management: Gloucestershire

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations Gloucestershire County Council have made to his Department on applying for private finance initiative credits for its waste strategy. [231557]

Jane Kennedy: I refer the hon. Member to an earlier answer given by my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Joan Ruddock) on 28 April 2008, Official Report , column 9W.

Since then, Gloucestershire county council has submitted a detailed outline business case to DEFRA. This was assessed by DEFRA, after which it was submitted to the Treasury's cross-department Project Review Group in October for consideration. An announcement on this private finance initiative (PFI) application should be made shortly.

Water: Greater London

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the condition of the water table in London; and if he will make a statement. [231917]


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Jane Kennedy: The Environment Agency is the statutory body with a duty to manage water resources in England and Wales. The Environment Agency assesses the level of groundwater in London on an annual basis and has done so for the past 15 years. The current report for 2007, available on the Environment Agency's website, shows levels (which are maintained through the active management of abstraction) are at a satisfactory level.

Water: Meters

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of homes have water meters; and what steps his Department is taking to increase that percentage. [231919]

Jane Kennedy: Currently 30 per cent. of households in England have water meters. An independent review of charging and metering for household water and sewerage services is currently assessing the appropriate pace of change so that areas of high water stress increase to near universal metering to ensure continuity of supply.

Water: Shortages

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much his Department and its predecessor has spent on investigations of solutions to water shortages in (a) the South East and (b) Hertfordshire in the last 10 years. [231129]

Jane Kennedy: Since the privatisation in 1989 of the water industry in England and Wales, the water companies supplying (a) the South East and (b) Hertfordshire have had duties to ensure that the public water supply is maintained. It is for the companies, not the Government, to investigate solutions to any potential shortfalls and to make the necessary investments. To assist them in identifying the necessary investment, as required by the water industry economic regulator, Ofwat, the companies produced water resources plans in 1999 and 2004. This year the companies consulted on their first statutory plans.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Departmental Training

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether his Department has conducted (a) an audit of staff skills and (b) a strategic skills plan as set out in the FCO Strategic Workforce Plan of November 2007. [225597]

David Miliband: Following the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's (FCO) Strategy Refresh, we conducted earlier this year a detailed audit of the skills needed to deliver the FCO's new Departmental Strategic Objectives. This involved both identifying the key skills required and defining existing levels of proficiency. We are evaluating these results and doing further work with specialist skill-sets.

The FCO's skills delivery plan consists of a number of elements: new training (both classroom and e-learning) to meet the requirement for new skills; a self-assessment
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tool to enable staff to identify potential career options and the skills and levels of proficiency required; and a new skill framework that builds on Professional Skills for Government competency standards and is tailored to fit the skills particularly important to delivery of the FCO's objectives now and in the future.

European External Action Service

Mr. Francois: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) if he will place in the Library a copy of the General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers’ report on the COREPER meetings on the European External Action Service held on 7 and 13 May; [223277]

(2) pursuant to the answer of 26 June 2008, Official Report, column 533W, on the European External Action Service, whether the Government holds a copy of the European Commission’s report on the COREPER meetings on the European External Action Service held on 7 and 13 May 2008; and if he will ask the European Commission to make copies of that report available to hon. Members. [223373]

Caroline Flint: We do not hold copies of these reports. Neither document is a UK originated document, but rather internal to the European Commission and the Council Secretariat respectively.

Gibraltar

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much funding the Government of Gibraltar received from the European Union in 2007. [229122]

Caroline Flint: In 2007, Gibraltar was allocated €780,000 from the European regional development fund and €452,000 from the European social fund.

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with his Spanish counterpart on Gibraltar in the last six months. [229125]

Caroline Flint: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary met Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos on 2 July at a meeting of the Trilateral Forum of Dialogue on Gibraltar. The Foreign Secretary, SeƱor Moratinos and the Chief Minister of Gibraltar discussed a range of Gibraltar issues covering implementation of the Cordoba agreements and new areas of trilateral co-operation.

The Foreign Secretary routinely meets the Spanish Foreign Minister at General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) meetings. Discussions in the margins of the GAERC have covered a range of international issues including some specific issues relating to Gibraltar such as Spanish military restrictions.

We make clear that the UK will not enter into a process of sovereignty negotiations with which Gibraltar is not content.


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