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The first meeting of the group will take place on 16 June. I look forward to working closely with the group and the project's wide range of stakeholders over the coming months.

Mr. Benyon: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the terms of reference of the Sustainable Access to Inshore Fisheries project are. [278891]

Huw Irranca-Davies: The Sustainable Access to Inshore Fisheries (SAIF) Project has been established to develop a strategy for long-term economic, social and environmental sustainability in the English inshore fishing fleet. The project has three phases, expected to run over the next 12-18 months:

The project is supported by an advisory group which will feed into the policy development process, supporting the Minister and officials over the coming months. The group will consider the evidence base and provide views and perspectives on policy proposals as they develop and evolve, particularly with regard to their practical/delivery dimension. Their knowledge and experience will be key to enabling them to provide innovative ideas to tackle the problems facing the fleet, and inform long-term decisions.

The first meeting of the advisory group will be held on 16 June 2009.

Fishing Vessels

Mr. Benyon: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs who the members are of each Under 10-Metre Fleet Regional Advisory Council. [278888]

Huw Irranca-Davies: There are seven regional advisory councils (RACs) that cover all sea areas of the EU and the activities of those vessels that fish outside EU waters. The purpose of the RACs is to provide stakeholders’ advice to the Commission and member states on any
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aspect of fisheries management under the common fisheries policy (CFP). Representatives of the under 10 metre fleet are free to attend meetings of RACs and are eligible to apply to become members of the councils themselves.

Fly Tipping

Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many prosecutions for fly-tipping were (a) brought and (b) successful in 2007-08; and what proportion of reported fly-tipping incidents in that year this represented in each case. [279874]

Dan Norris: In 2007-08, English local authorities and the Environment Agency reported 1,285,300 fly-tipping incidents on the Flycapture system ranging from single black bags to “significant multiple loads”.

1,966 prosecutions were taken against fly-tippers in 2007-08 which represents 0.15 per cent. of the incidents reported. 1,863 (95 per cent.) of these prosecutions were successful.

Prosecution figures are only for cases taken through the court system and do not reflect the full range of enforcement actions available to local authorities.

In 2007-08 local authorities took an additional 179,122 enforcement actions against fly-tippers, consisting of warning letters, statutory notices, fixed penalty notices, formal cautions and injunctions.

Hazardous Substances: Oldbury

Mr. Bailey: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when the Rattlechain chemical waste lagoon in Oldbury was last inspected by the Environment Agency; and what percentage of the waste in the lagoon was identified as yellow phosphorus in that inspection. [R] [278063]

Dan Norris: The Environment Agency last inspected the Rattlechain chemical waste lagoon in Oldbury on 7 April 2009.

It is not possible to determine during an inspection the percentage of yellow phosphorus in the deposited waste. Much of the deposits are historic and underwater.

The site closed in March 2006. Analysis indicates a level of phosphorus in deposited calcium phosphate sludge to be in the order of 0.01 per cent.

Mr. Bailey: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions have taken place between the Environment Agency and representatives of Rhodia, Oldbury on the future of wildlife at the Rattlechain chemical waste lagoon. [278064]

Dan Norris: The Environment Agency has had ongoing discussions with representatives of Rhodia on the future of the Rattlechain chemical waste lagoon and its associated wildlife since closure as an operational site in March 2006. The waste management licence for the site is, however, still in force and therefore Rhodia is still required to monitor and secure it.

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The Environment Agency is currently discussing with Rhodia what would be required if the company were to surrender the licence.


Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will bring forward proposals to classify hogweed as a notifiable weed. [279295]

Huw Irranca-Davies [holding answer 12 June 2009]: We have no plans to make either the native hogweed or the invasive non-native giant hogweed “notifiable” weeds.

The Weeds Act 1959 is a consolidation of earlier legislation concerned with commercial food production. The five weeds covered by the 1959 Act are common ragwort, spear thistle, creeping or field thistle, curled dock and broad-leaved dock. Common ragwort is poisonous to animals, in particular horses. The others, if allowed to spread, compete with and suppress grass and crop plants.

The five weeds covered by the 1959 Act are not “notifiable” as such and there is no obligation to report their presence to anyone. Complaints about the spread of any of the five weeds will only be investigated on receipt of a properly completed complaint form in accordance with the procedures set out on DEFRA's website.

The giant hogweed is listed in schedule 9 to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and it is therefore an offence to introduce it to the wild without a licence.

Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the effect of the spread of hogweed on soil fertility. [279296]

Huw Irranca-Davies [holding answer 12 June 2009]: No assessments have been made for either the native hogweed or the invasive non-native giant hogweed. While some invasive non-native species are known to affect soil chemistry to prejudice any competing plants, giant hogweed is not believed to have such properties.

Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department has taken to inform the public about the potential health hazards of coming into contact with hogweed. [279297]

Huw Irranca-Davies [holding answer 12 June 2009]: As part of implementing the Invasive Non-native Species Framework Strategy for Great Britain, we have been producing a suite of identification sheets on key invasive non-native species. These are published on the GB Non-Native Species Secretariat website at:

The sheet on giant hogweed clearly advises of the health hazard from contact with its sap. DEFRA also supported the development of the recent CIRIA (construction industry research and information association) guide ‘Invasive species management for infrastructure managers and the construction industry’ which advises
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of the hazard associated with giant hogweed. There are numerous other publications and sources of advice that identify this hazard.

Litter: Smoking

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent steps his Department has taken to reduce smoking-related litter. [277809]

Jim Fitzpatrick: DEFRA funds Keep Britain Tidy (formerly known as ENCAMS) to carry out the annual Local Environment Quality Survey of England. The results for the seventh survey were published in March 2009 and are available on the Keep Britain Tidy website at:

Smokers’ materials remain, by far, the most prevalent item, being present on 78 per cent. of all sites visited. (The survey records only the incidence—that is to say the percentage of sites—where each type of litter occurs; it does not attempt to record the volume.)

Dropping any smoking-related litter is an offence under section 87 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. A person found guilty of the litter offence may be fined up to £2,500 in a magistrates court, or, as an alternative to prosecution, issued with an on the spot fixed penalty notice of between £50 and £80. Litter can blight neighbourhoods and the minority who choose to drop it on the ground, rather than put it in a bin, have no excuse for their behaviour.

Through its funding of Keep Britain Tidy, the Government support behavioural change and awareness changing campaigns, as well as providing guidance to local authorities.

Marine Management Organisation: Manpower

Mr. Benyon: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many members of staff of the Marine and Fisheries Agency have agreed to transfer to the Marine Management Organisation headquarters in Tyneside. [278885]

Huw Irranca-Davies: We will expect to know final numbers of MFA staff moving to the new headquarters once the relocation decision making exercise is completed. There will be a recruitment exercise to fill any vacancies created by the MFA headquarters relocation.

Subject to the passage of the Marine and Coastal Access Bill the new HQ will then form the headquarters of the Marine Management Organisation.

National Poultry Register

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what information is stored on the national poultry register. [279084]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Great Britain Poultry Register continues to take and update registrations of premises with 50 birds or over. We encourage premises with less than 50 birds to register on a voluntary basis.

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Applicants must provide their personal details, their county parish holding number (if applicable), the number and species of poultry that are usually on the premises, the type of housing provided for the birds and the purpose for which the birds are being reared. Applicants are also asked for some essential information that can assist risk assessment, for example, whether the poultry have access to the open air or whether there are bodies of water close by that attract wild birds.

Applicants must also provide information regarding the number of workers in day to day contact with birds. This information is used by the Health Protection Agency to provide vaccination to workers in the event of an Avian Influenza outbreak.

Pets: Vaccination

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what his Department’s policy is on the vaccination of animals kept as pets. [278267]

Jim Fitzpatrick: Under the Pet Travel Scheme, pets (principally dogs and cats) from certain ‘listed countries’ can enter the UK without spending time in quarantine if they have been identified using a microchip, vaccinated against rabies and blood tested to ensure that the vaccination has been effective. Pets from ‘listed countries’ can enter and move freely within the UK six months after a successful blood test, as long as they meet certain other tick and tapeworm-treatment requirements.

Similarly, UK pets can travel to member states of the EU and return to the UK provided they have received appropriate rabies vaccination and have met the other requirements of the Pet Travel Scheme.

There are no other statutory requirements for owners to vaccinate their pets in the UK. However, under the Animal Welfare Act, all pet owners have a responsibility in relation to the health of their pets and we endorse the recommendations of the British Veterinary Association (BVA) for an appropriate vaccination programme to protect pets in the UK from a range of diseases. We strongly encourage anyone responsible for a pet to discuss their pet’s necessary vaccinations and other health needs with their veterinary surgeon.

A BVA guide, “Best of Care”, is available free of charge for people looking to take on the responsibility of pet ownership. This guide can be downloaded on the BVA website.


Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many instances of poaching in (a) North Yorkshire and (b) England have been reported to his Department in each of the last five years. [278323]

Jim Fitzpatrick: DEFRA does not record this information. However, partly in response to reports of poaching received by the National Wildlife Crime Unit through police forces, poaching is one of the UK wildlife crime priorities for 2009 and measures to tackle it have been stepped up. If DEFRA received reports of poaching,
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either the information would be passed to the police, or the person reporting the activity would be advised to contact the police.


Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of regulations governing the welfare of farmed rabbits; and if he will make a statement; [278065]

(2) what recent research his Department has (a) conducted and (b) evaluated on the rabbit farming industry; [278066]

(3) if he will bring forward proposals to increase the minimum requirements for space allowed to farmed rabbits. [278067]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The welfare of farmed rabbits is adequately provided for by way of the general provisions of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and the Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2007, which has a specific schedule relating to rabbit welfare. DEFRA also has a welfare code for rabbits which provides good husbandry advice, which producers have by law to be familiar with and have access to.

DEFRA has not carried out any recent research on what is a relatively small rabbit farming industry.

The Council of Europe’s Convention on the Protection of Animals Kept for Farming Purposes is currently developing recommendations for the welfare of farmed rabbits, which will include provision for space allowances.

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