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4 Nov 2008 : Column 395W—continued

Environment Protection: Waste Management

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if his Department will direct the Environment Agency to amend The Definition of Waste: Development Industry Code of Practice to remove the requirement for safe soils to be passed through licensed treatment if they need to be moved to another site. [231697]


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Huw Irranca-Davies: Excavated soil removed from a site is classified as waste under the EC Waste Framework Directive, as some soils are contaminated, which means that certain safeguards are required. Unfortunately, this has led to restrictions on the transfer of good quality soil to other sites and can lead to good quality soils being buried in landfill. To address this, DEFRA worked with the Environment Agency, Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) and industry to try and agree a Waste Quality Protocol setting out when soil should be regarded as safe and where it would be acceptable for soil to be transferred to another site without the need for treatment or being subject to permitting requirements. However, this ran into difficulties due to the lack of a straightforward way of determining when soil should be regarded as safe. Alternative risk based approaches to managing soil from uncontaminated sites are now being looked at.

Exmoor National Park Authority

Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the cost to the public purse was of each member on the Exmoor National Park Authority in each of the last five years; and how much was spent on (a) travelling and (b) other expenses for each member in each year. [230987]

Huw Irranca-Davies: DEFRA's grant to the Exmoor National Park Authority in the last five years has been as follows:

£ million

2004-05

3.291

2005-06

3.616

2006-07

3.700

2007-08

3.794

2008-09

3.957


The Authority sets its own levels of allowances and expenses. Details of the payments to individual members for the last two years are available on the Authority's website:

as part of the published papers for the meetings of the Resources and Performance Committee on 24 June 2008 and 25 September 2007. Details for earlier years are not held by DEFRA but may be obtained from the Authority.

Fisheries: Quotas

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 28 February 2008, Official Report, column 1863W, on fisheries: quotas, whether an assessment has been made on the catch composition of the catch from vessels involved in the Irish sea discard pilot; what the difference between the catch composition and the quota allocation was; and if he will make a statement. [228135]

Huw Irranca-Davies: The discard data generated by the Irish sea data enhancement pilot are consistent with accepted methods of discard data collection, such as through the Data Collection Regulation. Therefore, the additional data generated by the pilot using fishermen's
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self sampling, increase the sample size of the fleet from which to assess the level and types of discarding. These data will now be assessed to identify patterns of discarding in the Irish sea by area and season.

Fishing Catches

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will take steps to promote the procurement of fish caught by UK vessels in the (a) public and (b) private sector. [232757]

Huw Irranca-Davies [holding answer 3 November 2008]: The EU treaty and public procurement regulations do not allow member states’ public bodies to give greater weight to the procurement of fish caught by UK vessels when awarding contracts. This is because public bodies are required to ensure public procurement is fair, transparent and not used to discriminate by setting up barriers to free trade. It would also reduce competition contrary to UK public procurement policy that is designed to achieve value for money for the taxpayer.

The legal and policy framework does, however, provide public bodies with the flexibility to be innovative in their procurement and, through the Public Sector Food Procurement Initiative (PSFPI), the Government are encouraging them to increase tendering opportunities for small and local producers and to work in partnership with their contractors to similarly open up their supply chains where this is commercially viable.

Various public bodies such as the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) and the South East Food Group Partnership are also currently working to promote the procurement of UK-caught fish within the private sector.

Incinerators

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many new waste incinerators have been installed in each of the last 10 years. [231938]

Jane Kennedy: The following table shows the number of waste incinerators which were permitted in the UK in each of the last 10 years by the Environment Agency, or its predecessor Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Pollution (HMIP). It includes all incineration processes that take waste from off-site sources. It does not include processes that burn their own waste.

Number of incinerators

1998

4

1999

7

2000

4

2001

1

2002

1

2003

0

2004

0

2005

13

2006

0

2007

0


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New Forest National Park Authority

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will make it the policy of the New Forest Park Authority that they should employ an architects' panel or a design review panel to enhance the quality of decision-making by their environmental design department. [230857]

Huw Irranca-Davies: Decisions on these issues are for the New Forest National Park Authority to take. It is an independent authority operating within the local government framework and legislation.

New Forest National Park Authority: Consultants

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) which firms of consultants have been engaged by the New Forest National Park Authority to provide research for the authority's (a) Management Plan and (b) Recreation Management Strategy; [232483]

(2) what the conclusions were from each of the workshops convened to engage and gain contributions from stakeholders of the New Forest National Park Authority Management Plan and Recreation Management Strategy; [232484]

(3) what the (a) date and (b) location of each of the workshops convened to engage and gain contributions from stakeholders on the New Forest National Park Authority Management Plan and Recreation Management Strategy was; and who the (i) invitees to and (ii) attendees at each event were; [232485]

(4) how much the employment of consultants for work associated with the section of the New Forest National Park Authority (a) Management Plan and (b) Recreation Management Strategy has cost to date; and what estimate has been made of the final cost; [232486]

(5) how many tenders were received for consultancy support in the development of the New Forest National Park Authority Management Plan and Recreation Management Strategy; and to which firm the contract was awarded; [232488]

(6) who the members of the Stakeholder Advisory Group to the New Forest National Park Authority are; and what the relevant qualifications of each are. [232489]

Huw Irranca-Davies [holding answer 3 November 2008]: This is a matter for the New Forest National Park Authority and I have asked Lindsay Cornish, the chief executive, to write to the hon. Member with the information.

Polytunnels

David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what proportion of agricultural land in England is covered by polytunnels. [232772]

Jane Kennedy: Data are not collected on areas of crops specifically grown in poly tunnels. These areas are recorded as open field crops as the crops are only covered for part of the year.


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Rats: Greater London

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent estimate he has made of the rat population in each London borough. [231916]

Huw Irranca-Davies: DEFRA does not hold data on the size of the UK rat population or on the rat population in each London borough.

Data on rodent infestation in domestic dwellings are obtained from the English House Condition Survey (EHCS). The detailed findings for 2001 are summarised in the report, “Rodent infestations in domestic properties in England, 2001”. The EHCS data only provide an estimate of the proportion of dwellings with rat infestations inside or outside. They do not provide definitive data on the number of rats.

In May, DEFRA published an interim report on rodent presence in domestic properties from the EHCS data for 2002-03 and 2003-04. The key findings were that the occurrences of rats in these years are not significantly different from those observed in 2001.

A further detailed report is anticipated for publication in spring 2009.

River Rom: Environment Protection

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) how much has been spent in maintaining, cleaning and managing the River Rom in Essex in each of the last five years; [231910]

(2) what recent steps have been taken to maintain or improve the River Rom in Essex. [231924]

Huw Irranca-Davies: The following figures cover the cost to the Environment Agency for channel maintenance, the treatment of Japanese knotweed, unplanned blockage removal and regular planned deployment of staff.

£

2003-04

16,300

2004-05

14,372

2005-06

14,972

2006-07

37,146

2007-08

47,492

2008-09 (to date)

40,000


The Environment Agency made a contribution of £25,000 to the London borough of Havering to help cover the costs of bringing the River Rom up to standard.

The Cross Road Flood Storage Reservoir is a classified reservoir under the Reservoirs Act. This takes and stores flood water from the Rom. To date, the Environment Agency has spent over £40,000 in carrying out maintenance and public safety works.

In 2006, the Environment Agency took on responsibility for maintenance of a further 5.4 km of the river. This was part of a national transfer of responsibilities from local authorities.

Since then, the Environment Agency has delivered an annual maintenance programme that involves clearing the river of fallen trees, clearing blockages, removing invasive plants, clearing vegetation on embankments,
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installing safety railings and improving the safety of the Cross Road Flood Storage Lagoon.

Substantial investment is planned for the next three years to improve this flood storage area and manage the risk of flooding to people in the Romford area.

Science: Finance

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the likely effect of the transfer of his responsibilities on climate change to the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change on his Department’s science budget; and if he will make a statement. [233216]

Huw Irranca-Davies: The budget for the new Department is currently being decided between it and the contributory Departments: the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs and the Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform. Included in these deliberations is a division of the science budget. The budget for the new Department is expected to be announced to Parliament in the spring Supplementary Estimate.

Squirrels: Conservation

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he is taking to ensure the long-term survival of red squirrels in England. [231912]

Huw Irranca-Davies: I can only answer with respect to England as this is a devolved matter.

The red squirrel is a priority species under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. The conservation aim for this species is to maintain self-sustaining populations of red squirrels, and wherever practicable, expand red squirrel populations where their sustainability is threatened. This action plan is being implemented through a broad partnership of government, statutory conservation agencies and the private and voluntary sectors.

In England, the approach to red squirrel conservation is to secure long-term habitat and conditions favouring the red squirrel in areas where grey squirrels have not yet reached in significant numbers and by limiting grey squirrel expansion into these areas.

The Red Alert North England partners have designated 16 reserves and associated buffer zones where long-term survival of the red squirrel is considered most likely. The partners’ Save our Squirrels project is delivering advice to landowners, co-ordinating squirrel control in the buffers, promoting Forestry Commission grants, raising public awareness and gaining further funding for squirrel conservation work.

The Red Squirrel Partnership led by Lord Redesdale was awarded a three-year £148,000 grant in June 2006 from rural enterprise scheme to support the control of grey squirrels in Northumberland to help protect the red squirrel reserves.

Warm Front Scheme

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the Answer of 3 July 2008, Official Report, columns
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1087-8W, on the Warm Front scheme, what the average contribution requested from householders assisted under the Warm Front scheme was in (a) St. Ives constituency, (b) Cornwall and (c) England since contributions were introduced in 2005. [222064]

Joan Ruddock: I have been asked to reply.

The information requested is provided in the following table.

Area Average cost of contribution (£)

St. Ives constituency

1,025.74

Cornwall (LA boundaries)

1,018.99

England (all)

538.00


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