Huw Irranca-Davies: The UK Governments vision for the marine environment is for clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse oceans and seas. To this end, the Government have taken steps within the past 12 months to protect sea life through a diverse range of initiatives and policies, including:
The Marine and Coastal Access Bill is currently progressing through the parliamentary process; it had its Second Reading in the House of Lords on 15 December 2008 and started its House of Lords Committee stage on 12 January. It is expected to gain Royal Assent in the summer or autumn of 2009. The Bill will bring significant changes to the way the marine area is managed and protected, and will help us towards our vision for the marine environment.
The Government make regular assessments of the state of the UK seas to evaluate the extent to which they are clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse. The first report, Charting Progress, was published in 2005 and is available on the DEFRA website at:
The second report is currently being prepared and is expected to be published in 2010. The monitoring and assessment work and evidence collection is co-ordinated across the UK through the UK Marine Monitoring and Assessment Strategy (UKMMAS).
In the last 12 months, DEFRA has designated five additional marine candidate special areas of conservation (SACs) in UK offshore waters, which takes the total number of MPAs in UK waters to 156. These new sites have also been added to the OSPAR (Commission for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North East Atlantic) list of MPAs.
On 19 June 2008, my predecessor, my hon. Friend the Member for Chatham and Aylesford (Jonathan Shaw), made the decision to close an area 60 square nautical miles in Lyme Bay to the most damaging fishing practices. A statutory instrument was signed off by the Minister and laid in Parliament, and came into force on 11 July 2008. Lyme Bay is one of the most important areas for
marine life in England, and the decision to close 60 square nautical miles to the most damaging fishing methods demonstrated the Governments commitment to protecting the richness of our marine heritage as part of our goal of living within our environmental means.
On 6 March 2008, my hon. Friend announced his decision to ban scallop dredging and other towed bottom gear from the outer part of the Fal and Helford special area of conservation (SAC). The ban was implemented through a statutory instrument which came into force on 1 October 2008. Following DEFRAs decision to ban scallop dredging, Cornwall Sea Fisheries Committee, with support from DEFRA, is considering introducing a byelaw in order to establish an experimental MPA in the outer SAC area for the purposes of assessing and managing the scallop stocks within it. The byelaw would prohibit all forms of scallop harvesting, including through diving. The public consultation on the draft byelaw was concluded on 15 February 2009. Cornwall Sea Fisheries Committee is currently assessing the results of the consultation.
At the 60(th) annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) which took place in June 2008, the UK played an important role in the conservation and protection of cetaceans worldwide. We were able to defeat a Danish proposal for an annual take of 10 humpback whales in their Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling (ASW) hunt, thereby saving the needless slaughter of 50 humpbacks in the period 2008-12. We also made telling interventions on whale welfare; scientific whaling; the plight of the Western Pacific Gray Whale population; recent trade in whale meat from Iceland and Norway to Japan; and the Japanese Dalls porpoise hunt. The UK will continue to strongly support the IWC moratorium on commercial whaling and oppose all forms of whaling, other than limited whaling operations by indigenous people for subsistence purposes to meet a defined and substantiated need.
Through the Countdown 2010 grant programme, NE specifically called for projects to help the delivery marine biodiversity targets. Three large projects were awarded funds totalling £286,000. These were:
The Isles of Scilly Marine Biodiversity Project;
British Elasmobranchs: building and applying knowledge for a sustainable future. This project aims to arrest, and where possible reverse, the decline in elasmobranch (shark, skate and ray) populations; and
Solent Seal Tagging Project.
This included a chapter on the marine environment and its biodiversity. Further progress on the delivery of marine BAP targets is being captured through the 2008 Biodiversity Action Plan reporting process. This information is still being collated and will be available shortly.
Jane Kennedy: The welfare of circus animals is protected by the Animal Welfare Act 2006, which makes it an offence to cause unnecessary suffering to any animal. The Act also contains a Duty of Care to animalsthis means that anyone responsible for an animal must take reasonable steps to make sure the animals welfare needs are met.
Jane Kennedy: The welfare of domestic pets is protected by the Animal Welfare Act 2006, which makes it an offence to cause unnecessary suffering to any animal. The Act also contains a Duty of Care to animalsthis means that anyone responsible for an animal must take reasonable steps to make sure the animals welfare needs are met.
In November 2008, the Secretary of State launched a public consultation on the new code of practice for cats, dogs and horses. The main purpose of the codes is to provide practical guidance on pet owners responsibilities under the Animal Welfare Act. The consultation exercise closed at the end of last year, and my Department is analysing the responses before the codes are approved by Parliament.
Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what changes he has made to future expenditure plans to meet the threat to the UK of flooding from global warming. 
Huw Irranca-Davies: The Government are committed to effective management of flood and coastal erosion risk. Spending across central and local government has increased from £307 million in 1996-97 to some £650 million this year and will total £2.15 billion over three years to 2010-11.
As announced in the 2008 Pre Budget Report, £20 million has been brought forward from 2010-11 into 2009-10 as part of the fiscal stimulation package, which will mean earlier protection for 27,000 homes.
Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which properties in the London borough of Sutton have been assessed to be at risk of flooding by the Environment Agency; which areas and streets have been identified as at risk; and if he will make a statement. 
Huw Irranca-Davies: Our general policy is that genetically modified (GM) crops should only be grown if the evidence shows that they will not have any adverse effect on human health and the environment. We therefore support the existing European Union (EU) controls which provide for a robust case-by-case safety assessment.
Only one type of GM maize seed is currently being marketed for cultivation in the EU. It is designed to be resistant to an insect pest that we do not have in the UK, and the GM trait has been bred into maize varieties that are not suitable for UK growing conditions. The GM seed is therefore not being sold here.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he plans to take to implement the new EU pesticides legislation; and what the timetable for implementation will be. 
Huw Irranca-Davies: The Government have generally welcomed the European Commission's thematic strategy on the sustainable use of pesticides. However, throughout the negotiation process, the UK consistently argued that the proposals should be based on sound evidence and supported by an impact assessment. In particular, we remain opposed to the use of hazard cut off criteria which will have a detrimental agronomic impact, but have not been demonstrated to deliver a positive benefit for human health. In the absence of an impact assessment, it is impossible to judge whether there will be any positive benefit accruing from this element of the proposals.
Nevertheless, the regulation concerning the placing of plant protection products on the market and the framework Directive on the sustainable use of pesticides are expected to be approved by the Council in the near future. They will then be published in the Official Journal of the European Union.
The regulation will enter into force 20 days after publication. It will apply generally 18 months later, with specific timescales laid down for certain provisions and transitional measures for active substances already subject to approval arrangements under Council Directive 91/414/EEC.
The Directive will enter into force on the day following publication. Member states will have two years to develop any implementing legislation or administrative provisions, with specific timescales laid down for the implementation of certain provisions.
Justine Greening: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 27 January 2009, Official Report, column 332W, on redundancy, what estimate he has made of the annual payroll savings resulting from staff exit schemes in (a) 2005-06, (b) 2006-07, (c) 2007-08 and (d) 2008-09 excluding the cost of severance packages; and what estimate he has made of the equivalent figures for 2009-10. 
Huw Irranca-Davies [holding answer 5 February 2009]: DEFRA has run two voluntary early departure schemes since 2006. The first of these ran from December 2006 to July 2007, and the second from September 2007 to January 2008. The material forecast core DEFRA paybill savings up to 2010-11 due to early departures via those schemes are:
Mr. Benyon: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what differences there will be between land proposed to be designated as a coastal route under the Marine and Coastal Access Bill and land designated under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 as coastal access land. 
Huw Irranca-Davies: The line of the route will be proposed under the procedures set out in the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 and will be established and signed as the intended route for people who want to walk along the coast. However, the access rights for both the route and the wider margin will be provided for under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 and will be subject to the provisions of that Act as amended by the Marine and Coastal Access Bill.
Mr. Benyon: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) whether, under the terms of the Marine and Coastal Access Bill, designation of land as coastal access land will affect development carried out under the General (Permitted Development) Order 1995; 
(2) whether land designated as coastal access land under the provisions of the Marine and Coastal Access Bill will have the same status as a public right of way where development or change of use of land is proposed. 
The coastal access provisions in part 9 of the Marine and Coastal Access Bill are designed to be flexible so as to minimise the impacts on property and business, and to take account of changes in use and
of future developments. The line of the route and spreading room is not fixed permanently and the Bill enables Natural England to review these and propose changes to the Secretary of State (subject to the same system of consultation and representations as the original proposals) at a later date. Certain types of land are excepted from the right of access. The categories of excepted land are set out in Schedule 1 to the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 and they include buildings and their curtilage and land used for the purposes of a statutory undertaking. Land can become excepted from the right of access at any time if some change or development occurs so that it falls into one of the excepted land categories in Schedule 1. Where development is carried out under the General (Permitted Development) Order 1995, the land will be excepted if it falls into an excepted land category. Public rights of way are governed by a separate and different legal framework.
David Simpson: To ask the Minister for the Olympics how many staff in her Office (a) were disciplined and (b) had their employment terminated as a result of a poor sickness record in each of the last 12 months. 
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