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26 Jan 2009 : Column 42W—continued


The figures represent the number of claims which have a claim value before any deduction is made, for example, taking off EU and National Modulation.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether he plans to introduce a de minimus level for single farm payments; and what the smallest such payment was in 2008. [249574]

Jane Kennedy: Under the recently agreed CAP health check, member states will be required to introduce a de minimis threshold, within defined limits, for 2010 EU direct payments, including the single payment scheme (SPS). For the UK, this means having the option of setting the minimum either in the range of €100 to €200 or in the range of one to five hectares. A consultation exercise will be undertaken during 2009 on how this discretion will be exercised in England.


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The smallest payment made so far under the 2008 SPS is £0.70.

Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what proportion of single farm payments in respect of (a) 2006-07, (b) 2007-08 and (c) 2008-09 remain outstanding; and what the sum of such outstanding payments for each year is. [249871]

Jane Kennedy: The following table shows the proportion and sum of single payment scheme (SPS) outstanding payments in England for the scheme years 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008:

SPS scheme year Percentage of total SPS payments outstanding for the scheme year concerned (rounded) Value of outstanding SPS payments (rounded) (£)

2005

0.005

£75,000

2006

0.006

£93,000

2007

0.03

£446,000

2008

24.8

£400,000,000


For 2005 and 2006 the outstanding payments are held up awaiting the granting of probate for customers or the resolution of other legal issues blocking payment. Granting of probate is also the largest single issue holding up the remaining 2007 payments. The 2008 figure reflects the statement published on the Rural Payments Agency website on 22 January 2009.

Animal Welfare: Prosecutions

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 18 December 2008, Official Report, columns 1070-1W, on animal welfare: prosecutions, what steps are being taken (1) to increase the number of prosecutions for those abusing animals; [247841]

(2) to reduce the numbers of animals being abused. [247842]

Jane Kennedy: The introduction of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 has already had a significant impact on improving the welfare of animals. We believe the new welfare offence, tightening up the law relating to animal fighting and ending the loopholes that allowed miscreants to circumvent disqualification orders introduced in the Act will help reduce the number of animals being abused. We are also currently in the process of producing new codes of practice for keeping dogs, cats and horses. These will help educate the public as to how to better keep their animals. We are also working on new secondary legislation under the Animal Welfare Act to help protect the welfare of racing greyhounds, and new codes of practice on the keeping of primates by private collectors and the rearing of gamebirds.

Badgers: Vaccination

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress has been made towards establishing a team to manage the implementation of the badger vaccine deployment project. [248222]


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Jane Kennedy: A DEFRA project team has been set up to develop the Injectable Badger Vaccine Deployment Project. A project board has also been established to manage the process and long term implementation. This board includes DEFRA officials, representatives from the Veterinary Laboratories Agency, Animal Health and Natural England, and an independent farmer. The project team are currently planning the project to allow initial deployment once the vaccine is licensed in 2010.

Bluetongue Disease: Copeland

Mr. Jamie Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment his Department has made of the likely effect of a bluetongue outbreak on agricultural livestock in Copeland constituency. [249465]

Jane Kennedy: The symptoms of bluetongue and its potentially high mortality rate represent a significant threat to livestock welfare. Infection rates tend to be greater in cattle, but symptoms and mortality are generally more severe in sheep (studies in Europe suggest up to 30 per cent. mortality for BTV8).

No data are available on the likely effect of a bluetongue outbreak on agricultural livestock in Copeland constituency. However, we have worked in partnership with industry through the Joint Campaign Against Bluetongue to encourage vaccination, the only effective tool against bluetongue, in Cumbria and across the country.

The effects of bluetongue will be minimised in a vaccinated herd or flock. In unvaccinated livestock, given the experience in continental Europe, the effects of Bluetongue, and the economic consequences, could be significant.

Bluetongue Disease: Vaccination

Mr. Jamie Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the supply of doses of bluetongue vaccine available to protect agricultural livestock in Copeland constituency in the event of an outbreak of the disease. [249464]

Jane Kennedy: Under a voluntary vaccination programme in 2008, DEFRA underwrote the purchase of 28 million doses of vaccine, sufficient to vaccinate all susceptible livestock in England. This was made available according to priority areas as vaccine consignments became available. Sufficient doses were made available to livestock keepers in the Copeland constituency on 1 September 2008.

Because uptake in the North of England was lower than hoped, there is a surplus of 12 million doses of vaccine, which is being made available for use in 2009, subject to expiry dates.

DEFRA does not intend to underwrite further supplies of vaccine in 2009 but livestock keepers can purchase from their vets any of the three authorised BTV8 vaccines produced by Intervet, Merial or Fort Dodge. This flexibility provides farmers with a choice as to the best purchase options for their stock.

Further detail on vaccination in 2009 is available in the Delivery Plan For Vaccination Against Bluetongue Serotype 8 In England (2009), published on the DEFRA website.


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Bovine Tuberculosis

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of whether there is a correlation between the numbers of reported cases of bovine tuberculosis in cattle and the areas affected by floods in 2007. [244513]

Jane Kennedy: TB herd incidence in all counties is monitored through DEFRA's routine monthly collection of TB statistics. It is not possible to make a formal assessment of whether there is a correlation between bovine TB and flooding.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what evidence there is of any link between the incidence of bovine tuberculosis herd breakdowns and the intensification of dairy farming. [248788]

Jane Kennedy: No specific research has been carried out to assess the link between bovine tuberculosis (TB) herd breakdowns and the intensification of dairy farming.

Surveillance data routinely collected and analysed by the Veterinary Laboratories Agency indicate that confirmed incidence in dairy herds is no higher than for other herd types when herd size is controlled.

Philips ‘et al’ in their 2000 report on the role of cattle husbandry in the development of a sustainable policy to control ‘M. bovis’ infection in cattle recognise that cattle farming systems have increased in the intensity of production in recent decades, with increased milk yield and growth rates of cattle. However, they draw no conclusions between this and an increase in risk of Bovine TB herd breakdown. This report is available on the DEFRA website.

While there may be a correlation between variables related to the intensification of dairy farming, such as increased herd size and risk of TB (e.g. Goodchild and Clifton-Hadley 2001), TB has a complex epidemiology and due to the number of variables that contribute to the risk of a TB breakdown, it is not practically possible to isolate the direct impact of one measure.

Goodchild, AV and Clifton-Hadley, RS (2001). Cattle-to-cattle transmission of Mycobacterium bovis. Tuberculosis 81 (1/2): 23-41.)

Bovine Tuberculosis: Disease Control

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent progress has been made towards distinguishing between vaccinated and infected (a) cattle and (b) wildlife in relation to bovine tuberculosis. [248221]

Jane Kennedy: Tests to differentiate infected from vaccinated animals (so called ‘DIVA’ tests) have been developed under DEFRA funded project SE3222: Development of improved diagnostic tests for detection of bovine TB, which is due to report this year. This work will be continued under project SE3233: Cattle TB Vaccine: Development of a DIVA test.

A DIVA test for cattle is required because vaccines based on BCG will potentially make cattle react to the current tuberculin test as if they were infected with
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Mycobacterium bovis ( M. bovis). Badgers and other wildlife are not routinely tested for TB and therefore there is no need to develop a DIVA test for use in this species.

Further information about these DEFRA-funded projects is available on the DEFRA website.

Compost: Licensing

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether compost heaps at (a) allotments, (b) schools, (c) churches and (d) grounds of voluntary organisations will be exempt from proposals within the Environmental Permitting Regulations to require a £50 composting permit on anything which is outside a private individual's garden; and if he will make a statement. [250536]

Jane Kennedy [holding answer 22 January 2009]: Between July and October 2008, DEFRA, in conjunction with the Welsh Assembly Government and the Environment Agency, carried out a consultation to review the waste exemptions from environmental permitting. This included holding several workshops.

The consultation proposals seek to retain an exemption from permitting for small scale community composting, which would include allotments, schools, churches and the grounds of voluntary organisations where they meet the other requirements of the exemption. The consultation also proposed that exempt waste operations would be required to re-register every three years and pay a registration charge.

Officials are currently analysing the 286 responses to the consultation. No decisions have been made as to whether to introduce charging for some or all exempt waste operations. A summary of the consultation responses received and the Government's response to them will be published as soon as possible.

Disease Control: Finance

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he expects to announce his policy on animal health cost sharing following his Department's consultation on the matter; and if he will make a statement. [249804]

Jane Kennedy: We plan to consult on specific proposals for implementing responsibility and cost sharing for animal health shortly.

Dogs: Animal Breeding

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the Kennel Club on plans to improve dog breed health. [248786]

Jane Kennedy: Officials and my predecessor have had discussions with the Kennel Club on ways to improve the health of pedigree dogs before, during, and since the Animal Welfare Act was passed in 2006. I also welcome the Kennel Club's decision to carry out a joint review with the Dogs Trust of dog breeding.

I have met the Kennel Club and Dogs Trust for discussions.


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Farms: Local Authorities

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which local authorities have disposed of smallholdings in each year since 1980; and on what date each such smallholding was disposed of. [244258]

Jane Kennedy: I regret that the information requested is not readily available in DEFRA and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost by drawing on the resources of local authorities in England.

I am aware that over the years, faced by growing financial pressures, a number of local authorities have taken the decision either to dispose of all or part of their smallholding estates. In 1970, the total number of smallholdings held by local authorities in England was 10,971 with a total area of 148,044 hectares. By 2007, the number of smallholdings had fallen to 3,138, a reduction of 72 per cent., and the total area had decreased to 94,063 hectares, a reduction of 36 per cent.

Food

Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the percentage of food consumed in (a) 2006, (b) 2007 and (c) 2008 which was produced domestically. [250759]

Jane Kennedy: In 2006, 49 per cent. of all food consumed in the UK was produced in the UK. In 2007 the figure was 51 per cent. This is based on the farmgate value of unprocessed food. The figure for 2007 is provisional. Figures for 2008 are not yet available.

Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the percentage of (a) vegetables and (b) fruits consumed which was produced domestically in (i) 2006, (ii) 2007 and (iii) 2008. [250760]

Jane Kennedy: In 2006, 57 per cent. of all fresh vegetables supplied in the UK were produced in the UK. In 2007 the figure was 55 per cent. In both 2006 and 2007, 6 per cent. of all fresh fruit supplied in the UK were produced in the UK.

These estimates are based on volume. The figure for 2007 is provisional. Figures for 2008 are not yet available.

Gamebirds

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research he has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on the welfare of gamebirds. [241709]

Jane Kennedy: DEFRA has commissioned research on the use of bits and spectacles used in the rearing of gamebirds for sport shooting. The research report is currently being peer reviewed and will be published shortly.

Landfill: EC Law

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress is
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being made in meeting the UK's recycling targets under the EU Landfill Directive; and if he will make a statement. [248926]

Jane Kennedy: The EU landfill directive does not set any recycling targets for the UK.

England is making good progress towards meeting its share of the UK's landfill diversion targets for biodegradable municipal waste set in the EU landfill directive. Overall considerable progress has been made in recent years and England landfilled less in 2007-08 than its 2010 target. The further targets in 2013 and 2020 remain challenging, but achievable. DEFRA will continue to work with local authorities to build on the progress made to date.

The devolved administrations are responsible for delivering their proportion of the UK targets, and are best placed to make assessments of progress made in their respective areas.

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many waste disposal plants (a) have been built and (b) will be needed in the future to comply with the proposed recycling targets in the EU Landfill Directive; what the timetable is for building these plants; and how they will be funded. [248927]

Jane Kennedy: The number of plants required and the timetable for building them to meet the EU landfill directive targets will depend on the size of plants and the waste management strategies of each local authority.

DEFRA is working with waste disposal authorities to ensure that the total waste diversion capacity delivered by existing and future plants is sufficient to meet the diversion targets for 2010, 2013 and 2020 and that the recycling targets set out in the Waste Strategy for England 2007 are met.

These plants will be funded through a combination of public private partnerships (PPP) and private finance initiative (PFI) and some authorities are likely to utilise capacity available from the private sector.


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