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16 July 2009 : Column 566Wcontinued
Justine Greening: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) which (a) specific and (b) area-based grants are distributed to local authorities by each division of his Department; 
(2) what recent estimate has been made of the annual cost to (a) his Department of distributing each grant made by it to local authorities and (b) local authorities of administering each such grant; 
(3) what (a) eligibility conditions and (b) compliance measures are in place in respect of the expenditure by local authorities of each grant distributed by his Department; and what recent estimate has been made of the annual cost to his Department of monitoring the compliance by local authorities with such measures in respect of each such grant. 
Dan Norris: The Government believe in giving local authorities greater flexibility to take decisions on local priorities. The introduction of the area based grant has reduced ring-fencing, giving councils increased flexibility to manage their budgets. Alongside this, the new local performance framework has provided a simplified and more effective structure for priority setting and performance measurement.
The following specific revenue grants are being paid by this Department direct to local authorities in 2009-10:
Area based grant is paid by Communities and Local Government on behalf of the Government as a whole, in monthly instalments. Funding streams from this Department which are being paid through area based grant in 2009-10 are:
The Department does not routinely estimate the costs of distributing grants each year, although it does consider the cost effectiveness of proposals as part of the policy development process. It also assesses whether there will be any new burdens on local authorities, and ensures that these are fully funded when a policy is implemented.
As area based grants are not ring-fenced, they come with no specific conditions or compliance requirements.
Eligibility conditions and compliance measures vary with each specific revenue grant.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the oral answer of 23 June 2009, Official Report, column 700, what mechanisms exist for the independent Marine Management Organisation to report to Parliament. 
Huw Irranca-Davies: The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) is required to prepare an annual report for each financial year detailing how it has discharged its functions. The MMO must send this report to the Secretary of State for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs who must lay a copy of it before Parliament.
The Secretary of State will be formally accountable to Parliament for the activities and performance of, and public money spent by, the MMO. He will be advised by a cross-government MMO sponsorship group which will allow UK Government Departments' interests to be represented without compromising the clear lines of responsibility and accountability.
Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many qualified (a) lepidopterists, (b) botanists, (c) lichenologists, (d) bryologists and (e) mycologists are employed by Natural England. 
Huw Irranca-Davies: With the exception of botany, there are no nationally-recognised qualifications in the fields covered by this question. Natural England employs the following numbers of nationally-recognised experts:
Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) with reference to the round table meeting on 31 March 2009 with representatives from food retailers and trading organisations on food labelling, what steps his Department is taking in the preparation of voluntary guidance to supermarkets on country of origin labelling of produce from Israeli settlements; 
(2) pursuant to the answer from the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office to the hon. Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak, of 8 July 2009, Official Report, column 856W, on Israel: imports, when he expects to announce the next step in public consultation on the labelling of goods imported into the UK from Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: Following the meeting on 31 March, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is currently working with other Departments including the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, HM Revenue and Customs, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Food Standards Agency with the intention of carrying out a public consultation on the labelling of produce from the Occupied Palestinian Territories shortly.
Martin Horwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs at what locations (a) acid and (b) other discharge from (i) mines, (ii) landfill sites, (iii) radioactive waste storage sites and (iv) animal burial mounds have been identified as (A) exceeding permitted levels and (B) resulting in poor river quality in nearby river courses in each year since 1997; and what steps his Department takes when such sites are identified. 
Huw Irranca-Davies: Details of locations where acid and other discharge from mines, landfill sites, radioactive waste storage sites and animal burial mounds have been identified as exceeding permitted levels and resulting in poor river quality are as follows:
(i) Working mines are subject to discharge controls under Water Resources Act consents or Environmental Permitting Regulations permits issued and enforced by the Environment Agency. Permits are set to ensure that, when complied with, relevant EU Directive standards are met. Where permits are not complied with it is for the Environment Agency to take appropriate action.
Since 1994, over 100 discharges from abandoned coal mines to rivers have been assessed and prioritised by the environment agencies in England and Wales and Scotland. The Coal Authority has built some 50 minewater treatment plants which have cleaned up or protected more than 400 km of rivers and protected drinking water supply
aquifers. A prioritised programme to deal with remaining pollution from abandoned coal mines is in place.
Research commissioned recently by my Department and the Environment Agency has addressed the impacts of abandoned non-coal mines on watercourses. It identifies those posing the greatest risk to achievement of the aims of the Water Framework Directive by assessment of impacts on water quality, ecology, fish and groundwater. It is estimated that, out of a total of some 8,000 water bodies, 221 are impacted by non-coal minewater pollution related primarily to high concentrations of metals in discharges. As a first step, my Department is currently commissioning research to identify the most cost-effective passive treatment options from which to develop appropriate remedial measures within future river basin management planning cycles. This research will be published in due course.
Relevant annual data since 1997 are not held centrally and I will ask the Environment Agency to provide such information as is readily available to be placed in the Library of the House.
(ii) The regulation of landfills has changed significantly since 1997 when landfills were regulated by a waste management licence. Discharges of site drainage and treated leachate were controlled through a separate authorisation. Since the introduction of the Pollution Prevention and Control Act in 1999, permits have controlled both the landfill and discharges to surface water at operational sites.
The Environment Agency records inspections carried out at landfill and breaches of licence conditions. Since 2004 the Environment Agency has recorded data on breaches of licence conditions on a national system. Information prior to this is not held centrally.
The following table summarises the number of landfill non-compliances related to discharges to surface water, for each Environment Agency region.
While the Environment Agency records details of the type of breach, it is unable to provide a summary of the breakdown of these incidents by substance.
(iii) Low level radioactive waste is disposed of at the Low Level Waste Repository near Drigg in Cumbria. The Environment Agency and the Food Standards Agency monitor the environment and food around this facility. Since 2002, the Environment Agency has published its environmental monitoring results annually in the Radioactivity in Food and Environment (RIFE) Report series; prior to that the results were published in the Agency's Radioactivity in the Environment series of reports. Based on these monitoring results the Environment Agency assesses the radiation doses received by members of the public. The radiation dose to members of the public living near the Low Level Waste Repository is much less than the annual 1 millisievert (mSv) legal dose limit. The results of these dose assessments are also published in the RIFE report series.
Small quantities of low level radioactive waste are disposed of to some landfill sites. The Environment Agency monitors groundwater and leachate from a number of landfill sites and its assessments of radiation doses based on the monitoring results show that doses to members of the public are much lower than the annual 1 mSv legal dose limit. These results are also published in the RIFE report series.
The disposals of radioactive waste did not exceed permitted levels at the low level radioactive waste repository near Drigg or at landfill sites. Radioactive waste disposals did not result in poor river water quality.
(iv) The Environment Agency is not aware of any significant impact from animal burial mounds. The only significant burial of animals occurred during the 2001 Foot and Mouth emergency where there were 992 on-farm disposals of carcases in England and Wales. Due to the precautions taken at the time to identify suitable sites and the removal of material in some cases, very few residual risks were identified in the comprehensive review that was subsequently undertaken by DEFRA. Monitoring was found to be necessary at approximately 3 per cent. of the original burial sites. No unacceptable impact on the environment has been found.
Following the outbreak, DEFRA, in consultation with the Environment Agency, commissioned an independent review of each site using a source>pathway>receptor staged approach. The consultants concluded that none of the 992 sites posed an unacceptable risk to the environment but recommended that 32 of the sites be subject to ongoing water quality monitoring. Monitoring of these sites commenced in 2003 and is ongoing. The results are made available to the Environment Agency on a quarterly basis. This ongoing monitoring has identified that although there have been occasional exceedences of the precautionary threshold levels at a number of sites, they are often one-off spikes and are not consistent. These exceedences are considered to reflect the fact that samples are obtained from natural bodies of water in agricultural settings and reflect agricultural practice in the vicinity rather than results from the carcase disposal.
Since 2001, DEFRA has retained and managed four animal burial sites. Of these sites, only one (Watchtree, Cumbria) releases processed water into the watercourse. This is treated water from the burial cells finished using reed-bed technologies which is subject to a managed discharge consent issued by the Environment Agency. While there have been isolated instances of permitted levels being breached, these have almost been exclusively due to unseasonal rainfall which increases the suspended solids content, and none have resulted in poor river quality being reported. The three remaining sites (Tow Law, Co Durham, Ridgeway Ground, Worcestershire and Birkshaw Forest, Dumfries and Galloway) are closed sites with water products been stored and tanked to an appropriate location for treatment. Ground water run-off surrounding the sites is also monitored with the results shared with the Environment Agency, no recurring breaches have been reported and any isolated breaches have been actively resolved in conjunction with the appropriate regulatory agencies.
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