The TB Eradication Group for England has met twice since the Secretary of State announced the establishment of the group on 3 November. The Group has discussed its work programme and priorities; the scientific evidence provided to the Secretary of State which formed part of the basis for his decision on badger culling; and the possible content of an eradication plan (including a discussion with the European Commission). The Group has also considered proposals for a revised policy on inconclusive reactors.
The TB Eradication Group's remit includes reviewing the current TB strategy and control measures and developing a plan for reducing the incidence of bovine TB in cattle in England. It will make recommendations to the Secretary of State on the disease and its eradication.
Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the tonnage of grain for (a) human consumption and (b) animal consumption was held in the UK on (i) 1 January, (ii) 1 March, (iii) 1 May, (iv) 1 July, (v) 1 September and (vi) 1 November in the last year for which figures are available. 
Mr. Clapham: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the evidential basis is for the Environment Agency's recommendation that a 250 metre buffer zone between a windrow composting site and the nearest residential dwelling is adequate for the protection of public health; and whether the same size of buffer zone applies where the composting process includes food waste. 
Jane Kennedy [holding answer 18 December 2008]: The Environment Agency published a policy statement on composting and the potential health effects from bioaerosols produced as a result of the composting process in 2001. This set out its requirement for site specific bioaerosol risk assessments (for proposed composting facilities within 250 metres of dwellings or workplaces). The figure represents a precautionary measure and the point at which a site specific bio-aerosol risk assessment is required. The policy applies to all composting activities irrespective of waste type. Kitchen food waste cannot be composted in open windrows.
Since then, further work in this area has been undertaken by various parties. This has reiterated that there is insufficient information to determine the risk to human health from bioaerosols from composting. It has recommended that the trigger distance remain in place. This is a precautionary approach, based on research which has shown that bioaerosols should reduce to background levels within 250m. In 2007 the Environment Agency issued a revised policy statement which re-affirmed the need for site specific bioaerosol risk assessments to be carried out.
Mr. Clapham: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions the Environment Agency has had with the Health and Safety Executive on its 250 metre buffer zone between windrow composting sites and the nearest residential dwellings. 
[holding answer 18 December 2008]: The Environment Agency continues to work closely with the Health and Safety Executive on bioaerosols from composting sites. For example, the Environment
Agency has recently published a science report based on work carried out by the Health and Safety Laboratory, "Bioaerosols in waste composting: deriving source terms and characterising profiles" (HSL labs). Published December 2008 as Science report SC040021/SR2.
Mr. Clapham: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the Environment Agency has carried out wind turbulence modelling of the dispersion of bioaerosols in formulating its recommendations on the width of the buffer zone required between a windrow composting site and the nearest residences in different topographical conditions. 
Jane Kennedy [holding answer 18 December 2008]: Following a further review of available research the Environment Agency maintained its precautionary approach in its policy statement published in October 2007.
This requires bioaerosol risk assessments to take place if a proposed composting site is within 250 metres of dwellings or workplaces. Wind turbulence modelling has limited value for modelling dispersion of bioaerosols and was not used to formulate the position.
However in addition to conducting its own further research with the Health and Safety Laboratory, the Environment Agency recognises the value that might be added by work carried out by others and has arranged for this work to be peer reviewed.
Mr. Clapham: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many composting sites have been closed in England because of the potential impact of (a) bioaerosols, (b) odours, (c) environmental factors and (d) other factors on the health of residents living nearby in each of the last three years. 
Huw Irranca-Davies: DEFRA consults on a wide range of issues which are varied in nature. The Department does not record centrally the estimated costs for each consultation it launches, therefore to attach a value would involve disproportionate cost.
Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the government of Denmark on the slaughter of dolphins in its territorial waters. 
Huw Irranca-Davies: Under international law, it is primarily for individual countries to regulate the management and killing of small cetaceans (dolphins and porpoises) in their own waters. The British Government do, however, feel very strongly about the welfare issues raised through the hunting of small cetaceans. Furthermore, it recognises that the protection and conservation of such species is very limited, and that they continue to be hunted in many parts of the world, often at unsustainable levels.
On 10 March 2008, my predecessor my hon. Friend for Chatham and Aylesford (Jonathan Shaw), was the keynote speaker at a seminar on commercial whaling held at the Danish Parliament buildings. The aim of the eventwhich was co-hosted by the British embassy and the Society for the Conservation of Marine Mammalswas to raise awareness among the Danish public of the cruel and unsustainable nature of the killing of cetaceans.
DEFRA works within the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to sponsor resolutions that raise the profile of this issue, and to encourage the IWC to adopt a strong position in favour of the protection of small cetaceans.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs with reference to the answer to the hon. Member for Beckenham of 13 October 2008, Official Report, column 923W, (Mrs. Lait) on domestic waste: waste disposal, how much funding has been given to each local authority from the Behaviour Change Local Fund; and on what date each payment was made. 
Jane Kennedy: In response to a previous question from the hon. Gentleman, the hon. Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Joan Ruddock) arranged for a list of local authorities awarded funding to be placed in the House Library on 14 January 2008, as the list was quite lengthy. The position is unchanged as the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) has not made any further payments since January 2008 from the Behaviour Change Local Fund.
In respect of the timing of such payments, the requested data concerns the detailed operational activities of WRAP and is not therefore held by DEFRA. I understand that the chief executive of WRAP has offered to meet the hon. Gentleman to discuss any issues of concern to him and I would encourage him to take up that offer.
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs with reference to the answer to the hon. Member for Beckenham (Mrs. Lait) of 13 October 2008, Official Report,
column 923W, on domestic waste: waste disposal, whether monies from the Behaviour Change Local Fund have been used to provide information about the case for alternate weekly collections. 
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs with reference to the answer of 22 July 2008, Official Report, column 1010W, on domestic waste: waste disposal, what the (a) title and (b) date of publication of each item of guidance issued to local authorities on the use of fixed penalty notices in relation to household waste is. 
Fixed Penalty NoticesGuidance on the Fixed Penalty Notice Provisions of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 and other legislation published in November 2006:
Jane Kennedy: Information on sites which qualify as contaminated land under part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 is held locally rather than nationally. This would include sites contaminated by activities during the second world war.
Responsibility for identifying and dealing with contaminated land under part 2A lies with local authorities. All local authorities are required to have strategies in place detailing how they plan to investigate their areas to identify and deal with contaminated sites.
Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will review the cross-compliance rules on permission for farmers to travel on wet land, with particular reference to recent weather conditions; and if he will make a statement. 
Jane Kennedy: This summer saw unusually wet conditions and as a result DEFRA received requests from farmers for derogations to the cross compliance Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition (GAEC) standard prohibiting use of agricultural machinery on water logged soil. A derogation was granted which covered the period 10 September to 25 October 2008.
As part of a wider review of GAEC standards which is being conducted in response to the CAP Health Check, and to improve the standards where possible, we are considering how we can give greater responsibility and flexibility to farmers to manage the risks to their soil, including from the use of machinery on water logged land. We expect to consult on any proposed changes in 2009.
Jane Kennedy: The Government have long made clear their support for the continuation of the county farm system. I therefore welcome the recent paper by Sir Don Curry on The Importance of the County Farms Service to the Rural Economy and fully support Sir Don's views and his recommendations for preserving the future of local authority estates. Local authorities should be free to manage their smallholdings estates as they see fit because they are in the best position to make decisions in their areas in the interests of the communities they serve. Nevertheless, we recognise the important role of county farms and would urge local authorities to act on Sir Don's recommendations.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which local authorities have smallholdings; what the area is of each such smallholding; and what assessment he has made of each local authority's plans for its smallholdings. 
Local authorities should be free to manage their smallholdings estates as they see fit because they are in the best position to make decisions in the interests of the communities they serve. We therefore do not make assessments of each local authority's plans for its smallholdings.
|Area of smallholdings land held by smallholdings authorities as at 31 March 2007
|Land let as smallholdings
|Land held but not let as smallholdings
|Total small- holdings land
|(1) The above information is taken from a table included in the 57 draft annual report to Parliament on statutory smallholdings.