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Food: Prices

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the effect of the provisions of the Common Agricultural Policy on food prices in the UK in the latest period for which figures are available. [277099]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The principal market provisions of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)—Market Price Support (MPS) and the use of tariffs—artificially raise the price of food above global agricultural market prices.

We can calculate an estimate of the UK consumer cost of the Common Agricultural Policy by comparing the difference between UK and world prices for agricultural products and applying the difference to the volume of UK consumption. On that basis our latest estimates suggest that the UK consumer cost of the CAP was approximately £3.48 billion in 2006. This works out as an additional cost per head of UK population of £57.

Great Crested Newts

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the number of people qualified to survey land in England for signs of great crested newt activity. [280861]

Huw Irranca-Davies: People with suitable experience and skills can apply to Natural England for a licence to
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handle/disturb great crested newts. For the year April 2007 to March 2008, Natural England issued 1,074 great crested newt licences, permitting activities for the purpose of science and conservation. Figures cannot be broken down further to indicate how many of these licence holders were engaged in surveying land for signs of great crested newt activity.

Horses: Animal Welfare

Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what recent assessment he has made of the standard of the welfare of (a) horses and (b) racehorses; and if he will make a statement; [278285]

(2) if he will undertake an assessment of the welfare of racehorses, including levels of death and injury; and if he will bring forward proposals to improve their welfare. [278286]

Jim Fitzpatrick [holding answer given 9 June 2009]: All kept horses are protected by the Animal Welfare Act 2006 (“the Act”) which requires owners and keepers to provide for the welfare needs of their animals.

To make owners and keepers more aware of their responsibilities under the Act, DEFRA is preparing a code of practice for the care of horses, ponies, donkeys and their hybrids. Once this is finalised it will be approved by Parliament before being published.

There are no proposals to undertake a welfare assessment of racehorses. Racehorses are protected by the Act which makes it an offence to cause any unnecessary suffering to an animal. In addition, under the Act, it is an offence to fail to provide for the welfare needs of an animal for which owners are responsible.

Anyone can take forward a prosecution under the Act if they consider they have evidence of cruelty or poor welfare, or they can report it to the appropriate authorities, including the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.


Mrs. Cryer: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what steps his Department plans to take to support research and development in the production horticulture sector to maintain the UK's competitiveness in this sector; [279476]

(2) what funding his Department has allocated to production horticulture research and development in the last five years; [279477]

(3) if he will match-fund the Horticultural Development Company levy for horticulture research and development. [279478]

Jim Fitzpatrick: DEFRA funds a significant amount of horticultural research through research programmes on Sustainable Farm Management, Agriculture and
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Climate Change, Resource Efficient and Resilient Food Chain and Sustainable Water Management. DEFRA plans to continue supporting the horticultural sector through these programmes with research in areas including crop protection, nutrient management, water use and crop genetic improvement for horticulture. The Horticulture LINK research programme is jointly funded with industry and so is able to translate Research & Development into a commercial reality.

DEFRA spent over £7 million on horticulture research in 2008-09. We spent £1.35 million in 2007-08 and again in 2008-09 directly on co-funded research with industry. We are likely to spend a similar amount this financial year. This exceeds the Horticulture Development Company's Research & Development expenditure.


Mr. Andrew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what auditing of the records of incinerator operators the Environment Agency undertakes to establish compliance with the law in relation to H14 ecotoxicity testing of incinerator bottom ash prior to its disposal. [278403]

Dan Norris [holding answer 9 June 2009]: Hazardous waste legislation requires that the bottom ash arising from municipal waste incinerators is assessed for ecotoxicity (property H14) prior to disposal. The legislation does not require operators to submit the results to the Environment Agency.

Members: Correspondence

Mr. Salmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he plans to reply to the letter of 31 March 2009 from the right hon. Member for Banff and Buchan on his constituents in Macduff. [280794]

Joan Ruddock: I have been asked to reply.

As the letter concerned policy within BIS's remit I answered the right hon. Member’s letter on 20 April 2009 and will send an additional copy to his office.

Pesticides Safety Directorate: Manpower

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many (a) directors, (b) senior managers, (c) specialist and delivery managers and (d) executive support and administration staff there were in each Pesticides Safety Directorate office in each of the last five years. [280607]

Dan Norris: In the last five financial years from 2004-05 to 2008-09 the Pesticides Safety Directorate (PSD) was based in a single office in York.

Permanent staff in post expressed as full time equivalents (FTE) at 31 March in each year were:

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2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09

(a) Directors(1)






(b) Senior Managers(2)






(c) Specialist and delivery managers(3)






(d) Executive support and admin staff(4)












(1) Defined here as staff at Senior Civil Service or Grade 6 level.
(2) Defined here as staff at Grade 7 level (includes managers in policy, science, technical and administrative areas).
(3) Defined here as all staff in grades Executive/Scientific Officer to Senior Executive/Scientific Officer.
(4) Defined here as all staff in grades Administrative Officer and Administrative Assistant.
PSD transferred to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) on 1 April 2008, and merged with other HSE teams to form the Chemicals Regulation Directorate on 1 April 2009.

River Humber

Mr. Graham Stuart: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the eutrophication status of the Humber estuary is; and if he will make a statement. [280778]

Huw Irranca-Davies: The Environment Agency, which surveys waters in England for their eutrophic status, does not consider the Humber to be eutrophic or likely to become eutrophic in the near future.

Seas and Oceans: Pollution

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on what occasions monitoring of (a) fish stocks and (b) other marine wildlife has been instigated following the loss of a harmful cargo into the sea in UK waters since 1985; and what the (i) nature of the cargo, (ii) period of monitoring and (iii) results of that monitoring were in each case. [281611]

Huw Irranca-Davies: The role of DEFRA and the Marine and Fisheries Agency in responding to marine pollution emergencies is described in the National Contingency Plan for Marine Pollution from Shipping and Offshore Installations, which is maintained by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. Responses to maritime incidents need to be proportionate. Regional or national responses to maritime incidents involve the establishment of an Environment Group, which advises on environmental impacts and may initiate the collection of real time environmental data. If a marine pollution incident is expected to have a significant impact on the marine environment or the shoreline, arrangements are made to monitor and assess the impact in the longer term.

On 20 January 2007, the MSC Napoli was beached in Lyme Bay. The vessel was loaded with 2,318 containers (159 of which were classified as ‘International Maritime Dangerous Goods’) and approximately 3,500 tonnes of Intermediate Fuel Oil and 152 tonnes of Marine Diesel Oil on board. It is estimated that approximately 302 tonnes of oil leaked out of the vessel and dispersant was used to disperse the oil. The proportion of containers that went overboard and the proportion of oil spilled was relatively small. The Environment Agency augmented their routine water quality monitoring programme both by adding additional stations to improve the data coverage and by implementing a screening procedure for chemicals in the water. In addition, DEFRA funded the Plymouth Marine Laboratory to undertake a survey of the waters across Lyme Bay to assess the levels of hydrocarbon contamination in subsurface waters and the surface microlayer. CEFAS and the Marine and Fisheries Agency also instigated a programme of sampling commercial shellfish (crabs, scallops and mussels). Natural England organised necropsies of a proportion of the oiled seabirds and organised two benthic surveys looking at the effect on the benthos (including the pink sea fans). Apart from the birds that died there has been no measured long term effect on the marine environment. Full details can be found at:

On 1 February 2006, the MV Ece, laden with 10,000 tonnes of phosphoric acid, sank following a collision with another vessel approximately 30 miles northwest of Guernsey. Phosphoric acid (phosphate) is an essential nutrient for phytoplankton (microscopic marine algae on which the entire marine food chain relies). Release of “additional” phosphate into the sea may intensify blooms of toxic phytoplankton species and/or lead to oxygen loss from the seawater, both of which are lethal to marine organisms. As there was the possibility of a potential spill from the vessel, a research study was carried out to evaluate the “Ferrybox” as an appropriate monitoring system for the marine environment using the wreck of the MV Ece as a test case. One of the samples taken contained a concentration higher than background levels, demonstrating that this system of monitoring was capable of identifying phosphate leakage from the wreck. Full details of the report can be found at:

On 3 September 2005, MV Anglian Sovereign (Coastguard ETV) hit rocks close to the entrance to Scalloway Harbour in Shetland. It had 84 tonnes of gas oil on board plus the usual hydraulic and lubricating oils. A good deal of oil was lost to the sea but much of the rest was recovered by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency response. Monitoring was undertaken for a number of months when it was found that farmed salmon and wild shellfish in the area was contaminated.

On 29 June 2003, the Jambo, carrying 3,300 tonnes of sphalerite ore ran aground on rocks off the Summer Isles North West of Ullapool. Sphalerite is mainly composed of zinc sulphide and contains traces of other metals such as lead, cadmium and arsenic. Monitoring included testing water, sediments and shellfish for zinc, toxicity testing and measuring the solubility of metallic elements in the sphalerite ore. It showed that measured levels of zinc in the water were mostly very low. Toxic impacts of zinc to water column animals are therefore considered very unlikely. Measured levels of zinc in sediments are very low except in the immediate vicinity of the wreck (-100 metres) so toxic and smothering impacts to benthic (seabed) animals are therefore expected to be similarly localised. There is no evidence to suggest
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that the discharged cargo from the Jambo has resulted in persistent elevated levels of zinc, cadmium or arsenic in scallop or crab tissues. It is concluded that eating shellfish from the area around the Jambo incident does not raise any food safety concerns for consumers. The final report of the Jambo Environment Group to the Secretary of State’s representative was published in July 2004 and can be obtained from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency at:

On 31 October 2000, the levoli Sun was abandoned and later sunk approximately 11 miles North West of Alderney. The vessel carried a mixed cargo of 4,000 tonnes styrene, 1,000 tonnes methyl ethyl ketone and 1,000 tonnes isopropyl alcohol. More than 1,000 tonnes styrene was lost to sea during the incident. Analysis of edible tissues from crabs recovered one week later from pots laid very close to the wreck prior to the incident demonstrated only low-level styrene contamination that posed no risk to humans. The remainder of the styrene and the ship’s main bunker fuel were recovered from the wreck on the seabed. Full details are provided in R.J. Law, C. Kelly, P. Matthiessen and J. Aldridge (2003) The loss of the chemical tanker levoli Sun in the English Channel, October 2000. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 46: 254-257.

In February 1996 the Sea Empress ran aground in the entrance to Milford Haven releasing more than 72,000 tonnes of oil. Monitoring of affected wildlife began almost immediately and was mostly completed by 1998(1). Some studies continued in subsequent years and a number of reports and scientific papers have been published in the 10 years following the spill. The long term effects of the spill were evaluated in a report published in 2006(2). In addition, a review of the ecological effects of the clean up following the spill was published in 2006(3). The studies found that almost all known impacts to marine wildlife and marine and coastal habitats from the Sea Empress oil spill had disappeared within five years.

On 5 January 1993, MV Braer, an oil tanker, ran aground at the southern tip of Shetland, releasing around 85,000 tonnes of oil. Monitoring began immediately and monitoring for some direct effects continued for around a year. Background monitoring that could be used to assess some effects started in the 1970s and have continued to the present. In general, very few effects other than immediate ones were found, probably due to light and easily dispersible nature of the oil spilled(4,5). It took one species of seabird one to five years to recover to pre-spill levels(6), and others may have taken longer.

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