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As the forecast heavy rain arrived, gold command, as my hon. Friend mentioned, was promptly established. I had the opportunity to visit gold command at Carlton hall in Penrith, with the then Prime Minister and the then Secretary of State, my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds Central (Hilary Benn). The work that was undertaken there was remarkable. I have worked in the nuclear industry and am used to planning for emergency events, including evacuations, the co-ordination of local authorities and emergency services. To see the command in action was, in a strange way, reassuring. From the point of view of someone who lives in west Cumbria, having been born and raised there--and as a council tax payer there-it was incredibly reassuring to see that the system worked, and worked well. If there are lessons to be learned from that and rolled out across the country,
I would urge the Minister, who I know is sincere in his desire to improve things, to understand those lessons as well as he can.
The forecast heavy rain arrived and, as my hon. Friend the Member for Workington said, people were evacuated from Cockermouth by helicopter. It was a surreal experience to see on television Sea Kings hovering just above the Cockermouth main street-something we thought that we would never see and hope never to see again-irrespective of the extraordinary times that we have lived through in west Cumbria in the past 12 months. My hon. Friend was the pairing Whip at the time, and he had not let me off. Therefore fortunately-or unfortunately-I was stranded in London. My hon. Friend let himself off the Whip so he was not stranded, but that has not affected our relationship and I bear no grudges.
The rapid attendance and full attention of the then Prime Minister and the then Secretary of State for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs was incredibly important. It gave everybody in the area a sense of solidarity and genuine togetherness. To know that politicians from all parties, but especially the country's leading politician and the relevant Secretary of State, were with us in a time of crisis, was important. It was unprompted and genuine.
Tony Cunningham: Perhaps I can lighten things a little. I was in the sheep and wool centre with the Prime Minister. When he came in, he held the hand of a blind lady in a wheelchair. Somebody said, "It's Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister", and she said, "Y'all right, lad?" It must have been many years since the Prime Minister had been referred to as a lad, but that is typical of west Cumbria.
Mr Reed: I was not there, but I think I saw that on television. By that time, I was safe, warm and dry, and matters were well in hand. I recall that the Prime Minister visited on more than one occasion during those two days. He was exceptionally busy.
I was incredibly pleased at the time to learn that the Government had implemented the Bellwin scheme, and that rather than meeting 85% of costs, which I believe is typical in such incidents, the scheme was introduced in such a way as to allow 100% of costs to local authorities to be met. That was an incredibly wise move. The Government confirmed that 100% of costs would be met, rather than the standard 85% and, as my hon. Friend mentioned, it was made clear that the costs of building the temporary bridge in Workington-the Barker crossing-would be met by the Department for Transport. The Department also contributed other short-term resources to help the county implement its highways recovery plan, and ensure that all affected areas were back in working order as soon as possible.
I pay tribute to all those involved in the logistics of establishing the train service and to those who helped to establish the brand new Tesco overnight, which was adjacent to the train service. It is a tribute to the feats that people can achieve in times of crisis. I pay tribute to Cumbria police, under the fantastic leadership of chief constable Craig Mackey, and to the county council, under the leadership of Jill Stannard, who I believe had been made chief executive that very day. I thank Cumbria fire and rescue service, the local NHS, the Environment
Agency and all the welfare charities that have been mentioned. I also mention British Telecom and other utility companies, our magnificent armed forces and reservists, and many others who acted in superb concert as the floods hit.
The media have been mentioned briefly. Radio Cumbria was absolutely indispensible at the time. It became an irreplaceable service which, in my opinion, immediately demonstrated the value and strength of public service broadcasting-something that no other organisation could have provided. Border Television from the independent sector was also incredibly impressive.
As I went around the flooded areas, it became clear from several conversations I had just how vital the mountain rescue teams had been, especially in Keswick. The hon. Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale (Tim Farron) is no longer in his place, but he is right. For many years he has been a stalwart advocate of the need for mountain rescue teams to have their VAT refunded. When the Labour party was in government, I joined him in that view, both privately and publicly, and my hon. Friend the Member for Workington also joined in the debate, privately and often stridently. I certainly agree with the hon. Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale and I know that the Minister will take note of that point. It is a difficult issue because in our part of the world, and in many other places like Cumbria such as the Pennines, mountain rescue is a vital emergency service.
A number of organisations acted in remarkable concert. After speaking to people in Keswick about the mountain rescue service I was left in no doubt as to what the service provided. The case for financial help from the state is irrefutable. I mention the big society but not in a pejorative sense. Quite simply, if one seeks a definition for the kinds of things that underpin that centuries-old concept, the mountain rescue teams provide one such example. They offer services that no one else can, or will, provide.
Away from the heavily hit areas, many other towns and villages in west Cumbria were affected by the flooding. In some quarters, they were referred to as "the forgotten flooded"-places such as Parton, Cleator, Holmrook, Bootle, Egremont, Lorton and elsewhere. Thankfully, those areas did not witness the same devastation as Workington and Cockermouth, but they endured real suffering that was equally deserving of Government resources and support. At the time, I made the case in the Chamber that such support should have been forthcoming. I saw the effects of the flooding on those communities, and I pointed out that no community should be left behind. As a country, we need to take forward that principle and enshrine it in our flood defence policies.
Ultimately, the costs of recovery in Cumbria are not yet fully known. If we look at the insurance claims that have been made and paid so far, they are in excess of £200 million. However, we do not know what the effect has been on the economy or the tourism industry, and we do not yet know the long-term effects on agriculture and other sectors, so the final figure will be significantly in excess of £200 million.
My hon. Friend the Member for Workington paid tribute to a number of ordinary people who were involved in the response to the floods when they hit. I wish to take the opportunity to pay tribute again to a special Copeland borough councillor, Councillor David Banks.
When the banks of the River Ehen burst and houses along the banks of that river were flooded, he went to the aid of some elderly people who lived in his patch. With his bare hands, in the deluge and the pouring rain, he tried to rebuild the river bank with stones and baskets as the rain kept coming. That is the kind of people we are. Whenever my hon. Friend and I have taken part in debates such as this over the past 12 months, such statements have almost become a cliché, but it is no less true. That is the kind of people we are in west Cumbria and people such as Councillor Banks are the kind of public servants that we need.
As the people in the village of Parton taught me five years ago, it takes only a little bit of water to cause immense damage and for a flood to have a huge impact on the life of a family and its memories. Just one foot of water can ruin a home and destroy treasured and irreplaceable possessions such as invaluable photographs and mementos of children and other loved ones. Floods take away so much that can never be replaced.
The Environment Agency is among those organisations that have been pivotal in achieving recovery from the floods, not just at the time but since then. In the six months following the flooding, it extended the free flood warning service to an additional 3,000 Cumbrian homes and businesses. It began work with 30 flood action groups and commissioned a £100,000 study to look at the current standards of flood protection and possible options to reduce future flood risk in Cockermouth. In Keswick, it invested more than £700,000 in flood defence walls in the High Hill area, and in Ulverston it repaired existing flood defences and improved other flood defences to certain properties.
Before the floods last year, Carlisle had received significant investment in defences-between £30 million and £35 million-following the floods of 2005. Cockermouth, Keswick and Ulverston had all benefited from some flood defence investment under the last Government, and much more was planned. For example, in Keswick, which is now in my constituency following the boundary change before the last election, the Environment Agency had done a study to justify improvement works and had allocated funding to design works in 2010-11 for construction at an estimated cost of £5 million. I ask the Minister in all sincerity and with genuine respect to ensure that those works proceed. I certainly hope that they do. I have written to the Secretary of State regarding that issue, and I hope that the Minister can today give my constituents in Keswick the assurances that they seek about the flood works that they expect to take place there.
In Ulverston, funding had been allocated for 2010-11 to develop a scheme for Dragley beck, which is programmed for construction in 2011-12 at a cost of £2 million. I am sure that my hon. Friend the Member for Workington will want it to be taken forward as well. The project at Dragley beck would raise the existing once-in-20-years standard of flood protection to once in 70 years. For Cockermouth, indicative funding is in place to begin studying a potential scheme in 2012-13.
The Environment Agency brought forward other schemes for Cumbria under the previous Government. In the light of the cuts, can the Minister notify Cumbrian local authorities about which flood defence schemes will be continued and which will be scrapped? The people of Cumbria have a right to know that as a
matter of urgency. Heavy rainfall has raised the spectre of flooding again in the past few days. Flooding has been a real possibility in Keswick and elsewhere, and we need to know where we stand.
Flooding is one of the most difficult issues facing the nation. It is likely to happen more, not less. Carlisle flooded in 2005, before the horrendous floods in 2007 and the Cumbrian floods in 2009. We need to be able to meet the practical and policy challenges that flooding poses. The nature of that policy challenge for every community at risk of flooding means that it must be properly resourced by Government. The previous Labour Government more than doubled spending on the management of flood risk. That is beyond doubt: it is irrefutable. We are talking about west Cumbria today, but none of us should forget the other communities that have been affected by flooding devastation. I think that the costs of the floods in 2007 were in excess of £3 billion. Thirteen lives were lost. None of us should forget that.
Between 2007 and 2009, the Environment Agency completed 106 flood defence schemes. Will the Minister tell us how many flood defence schemes will be undertaken by the agency under its newly cut budget, year by year for the life of this Parliament? Further to that, will he tell us where those schemes will be? Communities such as those in Leeds and elsewhere need to know what is happening to their flood defence capability.
I genuinely look forward to working with the Government and with the Minister on issues on which we agree. Flooding should not be a party political issue. It should be an issue of national interest, on which we all work in concert to achieve the best results. However, an air of chaos is creeping into flood defence policy and planning in DEFRA. The £170 million cut in flood defence budgets just is not necessary. Indeed, it is fundamentally wrong. We all want to see greater efficiency in how public money is spent. I support the Minister on that, but I cannot support a £110 million cut in capital spending and a cut in excess of £60 million in flood and coastal erosion defence maintenance budgets.
"thousands of homes still at risk of flooding may lose home insurance cover."
The Institution of Civil Engineers has also expressed concerns about the cuts in flood defence budgets. Now, the people of this country who live in areas of flood risk are, as my hon. Friend the Member for Workington mentioned, haunted by the spectre of a flood tax. A Conservative Member said earlier from a sedentary position that that was a myth. I hope so and I hope that the Minister will take the opportunity to explain why that is the case when he makes his remarks.
We know that the statement of principle between insurers and Government expires in 2013, which is only a few years away. Negotiation on that issue will be complex, so can the Minister tell hon. Members about the plan? Where are we going on this issue? Will he now publish the road map that was mentioned following the insurance summit in September?
We are used to the English language being assaulted by the present Government. The Prime Minister achieves nothing in Europe, but calls that a "spectacular success". The Secretary of State for Health claims to match Labour's spending, yet Conservative MPs from up and down the country tell me that hospital wards are being closed by stealth. Instead of being freed of red tape, police officers are actually being freed of their jobs. The Chancellor of the Exchequer claims to be protecting more homes from flooding by cutting the flood defence budget, and the self-proclaimed "greenest Government ever" will struggle to be the greenest Government of 2010. Welcome to the world of DEFRA-nomics, where we are meant to believe that those most affected by the cuts being imposed are, perversely, the most happy at the prospect. That will not wash.
Tragically-and there is an air of tragedy around this, as I have said-DEFRA Ministers currently occupy one of two positions. Either they actively want the Government to abandon their responsibilities or, as they used to refer to it, "get out of the way" and therefore are happy for these ideological cuts to affect flood defences in an exceptionally damaging way, or they really have no understanding of how the cuts will affect homes, businesses and communities up and down the country. The former is almost worse, because it would suggest that the likely effects of the cuts are understood, but are being disregarded. Which is it? Surely the cuts cannot have been made in ignorance. Surely they cannot have been planned in ignorance and will not be prosecuted in ignorance.
Will the Minister tell us today which flood defence schemes in which areas will be cut and which will proceed? Will he take the opportunity to tell us what discussions he has had with which local authorities about how they should pick up the flood defence burden, particularly in the light of cuts in their own budgets? Will he tell us how many flood defence schemes will go ahead for each year of this Parliament and where those schemes will be located? I hope that if he cannot tell me or other hon. Members that today, he will undertake to write to me or place a paper in the Library detailing where cuts in flood defence projects will be made.
Flood damage costs in England alone are more than £1 billion a year. According to Environment Agency calculations, one in six homes in England is at risk from flooding. More than 2.4 million properties are at risk of flooding from rivers or the sea in England, and half of those are at significant risk. The Minister is aware of the figures. A further 2.8 million properties are vulnerable to surface water flooding. The Environment Agency calculates that in the worst-case scenario, annual flood damage costs could exceed £27 billion across the UK by 2080. Clearly, that is some way off, but it is a rate of increase that none of us would want.
This is no time to be playing fast and loose with our flood defences, no time for DEFRA-nomics and no time for cutting flood defence budgets. If the Government will not change their mind in the face of overwhelming evidence, independent advice and the experiences of very real human suffering that we know flooding causes, they must at least be honest about where their axe will fall and which communities they will abandon. We need transparency and honesty, but most of all, we need the Government to think again.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Richard Benyon): I thank the Opposition spokesman, the hon. Member for Copeland (Mr Reed), for the 32 minutes of his speech on this subject. In the 12 minutes that I have left to respond to the many very serious points that have been made in the debate, I will endeavour to answer his questions, but he has not left me enough time. I guarantee that I will write to him.
I start by paying tribute to the hon. Member for Workington (Tony Cunningham). On this day, which is almost the anniversary of the tragic occurrences in his and neighbouring constituencies, and on the day that we are thinking of the people on the south coast of Cornwall who have suffered similar disruption to their lives, although, happily, not quite as tragically as in his constituency, he and the hon. Member for Copeland are right to link those events with other tragedies that have happened in their area. I come from a constituency that suffered the flooding of more than 2,000 houses in 2007; it also contains the town of Hungerford. I therefore feel a sense of empathy.
The hon. Member for Workington should be applauded for his reasoned words, for his genuine honesty and for his generosity of spirit. He has shown his pride in the performance of people in his constituency, old and young, those who had a statutory role in the rescue activities and those who did not, who buckled down and did what they could. He has shown a generous appreciation of the efforts of the emergency services, the Environment Agency and the local authorities. It is touching to think of the role played by organisations such as the RSPCA as well. Perhaps the most moving was his tribute to the spirit of the local people.
The hon. Gentleman knows well that, just because a year has passed and his last constituent is, we hope, on the point of going back into a house, the problems are not over. In my constituency, the level of stress reported by local doctors' surgeries increases when it rains. There is an element of post-traumatic stress related to such incidents that I am not sure we have got our heads around. Given the other tragedies that have occurred in Cumbria, I am sure that he and his colleagues will experience something similar. It is good to see every MP from Cumbria present for this debate. I pay tribute to their cross-party consensus, their pride in their area and their determination to learn from what happened.
I can pay no greater tribute than to Sue Cashmore, whom I must meet. I am sure that hon. Members are keen for me to big up other heroes, but what she is doing is fantastic. The hon. Member for Workington spoke with great feeling at the flood summit about the work being done by local flood groups, and they deserve our appreciation. To answer some of his points, I refer to what has been achieved through the summit. I hope also to dispel the myths that have been propounded by some hon. Members today.
I was asked about Sir Michael Pitt's recommendations on fire and rescue services. In fact, the Pitt review was not categorical on the issue of a statutory duty. It proposed that one should be introduced "as necessary". There would be significant drawbacks to such a statutory duty. In his review of the response of the fire and rescue services to the floods of summer 2007, Sir Ken Knight,
the Government's chief fire and rescue adviser, concluded that a duty was not necessary. Fire and rescue authorities already turn out to flood events, as evidenced by past flood incidents. It is therefore not clear what difference a statutory duty would make. Moreover, a statutory duty could lead to the fire and rescue service being the only organisation carrying out flood rescue, because other responders, including many skilled and experienced voluntary organisations, such as those that the hon. Gentleman mentioned, might feel that they were somehow subsidiary to that.
I can tell the hon. Gentleman, however, that we are about to announce a substantial sum of money to be spent by fire and rescue services, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and the Red Cross on flood rescue equipment. That announcement will be made tomorrow. It will cover a number of fire and rescue services, although I cannot remember whether the hon. Gentleman's local service is included; I would be happy to inform him later.
I will take up with the Treasury the point about mountain rescue services raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale (Tim Farron), and I will keep him informed. I heard the points made by the hon. Member for Copeland about the wonderful role played by mountain rescue teams and the difficulties they face, and I will bear those in mind in relation to our strategies.
Hon. Members have spoken about bridges and of the wonderful and speedy work that was done to return those vital communications links to their communities. We must learn from those processes and consider whether we can perform them even quicker. I understand the problem facing the constituents of my hon. Friend the Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale in Backbarrow, and I will keep in touch with him.
On schools, from my experience of the floods of 2007, I think that local authorities should include a member of the local education authority in their initial emergency planning team. If a flood happens in the day, parents need to know whether it is safer to collect their children or to leave them at school. If it happens in the night, they want to know whether schools are open or closed. It is important that LEAs are kept informed.
On funding, it is important that we understand the points that have been made about the demise of the Government office for the north-west. We are in the throes of rolling out the recommendations of the Pitt review and the important provisions of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010. That requires a coherent and cohesive strategy at national and local level. We are testing that seriously in Exercise Watermark, which the Secretary of State and I are going to see in progress tomorrow. The main part of the exercise will happen in March. It will test co-ordination, resilience and strategic risk planning at national and local level. We are determined that every aspect of that part of Sir Michael Pitt's important report will be seen through. We have secured
the funding to ensure that local authorities are properly resourced and to secure all the emergency activities that were so ably and rightly described by the hon. Member for Workington.
I will deal now with the myth of a flood tax. I am probably at fault for the way in which I floated our plans before the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee. That allowed for the hon. Gentleman's comments in the local paper about a lead balloon, which I read. Of course such a proposal would go down like a lead balloon in flood-traumatised constituencies such as his and mine. I am not in the business of introducing a flood tax. However, I want to ensure that we provide for communities that always miss out because they cannot compete with other communities that bring forward plans for flood defences that offer a much better return for the money. Some communities, year after year, are pushed down the list in that way. Through our flood and coastal erosion management strategies, more communities are identifying risk, yet some are constantly pushed down. We want to provide those communities with some comfort, so we are saying that there are ways of unlocking funding that does not necessarily come from the taxpayer. I have seen innovative schemes around the country in which the planning system has been used to unlock additional money which, when added to Government funding, puts a scheme above the line and makes it possible. I assure hon. Members that a considerable number of schemes will go ahead that are fully paid for by the taxpayer, but we have to look for ways to unlock further funding. If the hon. Member for Copeland is honest with himself, he will acknowledge that if his party was in government now, he would be looking at precisely such methods-he would be mad not to.
I would love to go into detail about the many other issues that have been raised in the debate and pay further tribute to the wonderful people of Cumbria and the way they have responded to the terrible tragedy. In particular, I pay tribute to the family of PC Bill Barker. We have an opportunity for the House to work together. I will answer the points to which I was unable to respond in the short time that I was left, but I assure the hon. Member for Copeland that I will work with him, and any other hon. Member, to ensure that the problems faced by communities that have experienced flooding, and those that, sadly, will experience it in the future, are dealt with in a cohesive and strategic way.
Decarbonisation policies and renewable energy policies, both nationally and internationally, may not be in crisis but they are at a turning point. The Chicago climate exchange ended carbon trading, and a year ago the Copenhagen summit was not a success. Wind farms are increasingly criticised as an environmental blight as well as extremely expensive, and it has been noted that energy companies make three times as much money from wind farms as they do from coal and oil. The debate takes place in that context.
I am rather impressed by the potential contribution that heat pumps could make to our future energy needs. However, we must have complete assurance that the installed technology will actually deliver what it says on the tin. I fear that in 30 or 40 years, many of our energy policies, including wind farms, will be seen in the same way as we now look back on deck-access housing accommodation from the 1960s and 1970s-a good idea at the time, but no more than that. Heat pumps are a big investment for both householder and taxpayer, and both deserve to be assured that they will be worth the money.
Heat pumps extract heat from the ground or the air, and redirect it for space heating and hot water. The efficiency of heat pumps is measured by their coefficient of performance, which I shall refer to as COP. It is the ratio of heat produced per unit of electricity consumed in generating that heat. A COP value of 3 means 3 kWh of heat output per kWh of electricity used to run the pump. Higher COP values represent relatively more efficient heat delivery.
COP values vary by season; the colder the ground or the air, the more work the pump has to do to raise the temperature to acceptable levels for domestic heating, and the more energy is consumed. Poor design and installation also affect the COP. In well-insulated buildings with low temperature under-floor heating of about 40° C, ground-source heat pumps can be beneficial. Conversely, in poorly insulated buildings, where the pump is required to heat high-temperature radiators and hot water to about 60° C, their performance is less impressive.
"Only heat pumps with an output that significantly exceeds the primary energy needed to drive it should be taken into account."
From other data, we can deduce that that the EU implicitly requires heat pumps to achieve a COP of 2.875 before their energy contributes to the renewable energy target. The logic behind the EU requirement for a minimum efficiency level is that replacing a fossil-fuel heating system with a poorly performing heat pump may result in increased CO2 emissions. That is because the emissions costs in the extra electricity requirement of a heat pump need to be balanced against the emissions of burning a fossil fuel.
The most recent study of heat-pump performance, "Getting warmer: a field trial of heat pumps", was published by the Energy Saving Trust on 8 September.
The study reveals that the performance of heat pumps installed in the UK is surprisingly poor. It showed that only one of the 22 properties that had ground-source heat pumps achieved the implicit minimum EU directive COP, and that only nine of the 47 sites with air-source heat pumps achieved that standard. Something similar occurred during the Joseph Rowntree Foundation study in Elm Tree mews in York; a communal ground-source heat pump was installed that had a nominal design COP efficiency of between 3.2 and 3.5, but despite a number of interventions throughout the year's monitoring, the delivered COP efficiency was 2.15. As a result, it failed the renewable test.
The risks are clear. There is the potential for consumer dissatisfaction with technology that fails to deliver on value for money after expensive and possibly disruptive installation; in some cases, it will raise carbon emissions rather than lower them; problems may arise from the EU failing to count the majority of heat pumps in the UK as a contribution to our renewables target; and there is the possibility of failing to qualify or to remain qualified for renewable heat incentive payments.
"Heat pumps that do not meet the required average seasonal performance factor, as defined in Annex VII of the use of energy from renewables sources Directive 2009/28/EC, will not count as renewable."-[Official Report, 21 October 2010; Vol. 516, c. 865W.]
In order for heat pumps to have the correct COP, each installation needs to be inspected and monitored to ensure compliance. How will the Minister monitor that, if it does not do what it says on the tin? I would be grateful if he answered that question today.
The Energy Saving Trust report was bad news for heat pumps, but disappointing COP values are only part of the picture. The threshold for being considered renewable takes no account of the carbon footprint generated by manufacture and the emission of the heat pump's fluorocarbon refrigerant. Fluorocarbons used as refrigerants can be highly polluting if they leak, because their global warming potential can be thousands of times that of CO2. The refrigerant R404A, for instance, has a global warming potential 3,800 times that of carbon dioxide. In a written answer, the same Minister said:
"we would expect heat pump manufacturers to avoid using this particular gas wherever possible."-[Official Report, 19 October 2010; Vol. 516, c. 649W.]
A further study undertaken by Atlantic Consulting, "Fluorocarbons' Contribution to Air-Source Heat-Pump Carbon Footprints", showed that the contribution of fluorocarbons to the carbon footprint of heat pumps was considerable. Production and disposal of heat pumps
made a negligible contribution; however, in power generation, fluorocarbons added 20% to the footprint. The annual operating leak rate was estimated at 6% of rated charge, in accordance with the current estimate of the Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heat Pumps Technical Options Committee of the United Nations Environment Programme. Another academic study from 1999 found leak rates as high as 8%. Those rates are significant; they are not negligible, as was claimed in a written answer of 19 October 2010, which was based on information supplied by the industry.
Further, could the Minister obtain independent confirmation of whether the leak rates are negligible or significant, as a lot could ride on that for the future of the industry? There are no current mandated standards on leak rates for heat pumps, but the problems do not end there, because much damage is done when the refrigerants are vented into air at the end of the installation's life, as all too often happens. I also see from a recent parliamentary answer, on 19 October 2010 at column 647, that no information is held on quantities of HFCs and HCFCs recovered and recycled in the UK. So we simply do not know how much of these dangerously polluting gases, which are controlled under the Kyoto convention, are emitted into the atmosphere at the end of the life of the installation. If emissions are not measured, they cannot be managed.
UNEP's RTOC, which I mentioned earlier, has adopted a working assumption that end-of-life emissions of refrigerants are on average over 50%. That is not "negligible". Atlantic Consulting's findings are supported by a similar, peer-reviewed study published by the university of Delft in the Netherlands, which found that,
"Even though heat pumps are generally considered to be sustainable heating systems because they extract heat from renewable sources rather than by burning non-renewable fossil fuels this research shows that a heat pump is actually not more environmentally friendly than a gas-fired boiler."
"Under the proposed RHI, homes and offices in the UK would be subsidised to displace or replace gas- or LPG-fired heating with heat pumps, even though this would, at best, cause a very minor reduction in carbon emissions, and in many cases an increase."
Currently, the Government are considering the detail of how the RHI will operate. The potential contribution of heat pumps to our renewables target is significant, but some way has to be found of assessing and certifying each installation, so that it makes a genuine and positive, rather than negative contribution. Ideally, minimum fluorocarbon leak rate standards should be mandated for heat pumps, so that these powerful global warmers do not undermine their contribution further.
The key point is that the nominal or certified design of coefficient of performance of a heat pump can differ radically from the efficiency after installation; so radically, in fact, that it can detract from rather than add to our battle against climate change. The Department of Energy and Climate Change is to subsidise heat pumps with taxpayers' money at 5.5p per kWh for 20 years. That is an enormous amount of money committed for a long period, and we must be absolutely certain that taxpayers' money subsidises only that which is renewable after installation and that which is good, rather than inefficient, not renewable and bad.
I thank the hon. Member for Blackley and Broughton (Graham Stringer) for securing the debate and for the constructive way he introduced it. We believe this is an area where it is entirely proper there should be constant scrutiny. We are determined to try to do things in the way that is most efficient and effective and to ensure that we always have in mind the needs of consumers and the people paying for the technologies and installations, That must be at the heart of our efforts. I thank him for his contribution today and for ensuring that we saw in advance the article he wrote ahead of the debate.
The hon. Gentleman has raised some important issues to which I hope to respond fully. We will certainly base our decisions on evidence. Consumers expect us to do that and to use public funding wisely, and we are determined to do so. Of the issues he has raised, a number come through most clearly.
We recognise that poor insulation and design would have a significant impact on the performance of heat pumps, to the degree that it might jeopardise whether they could count as renewable under European legislation. That is why we have a microgeneration certification scheme, to ensure minimum quality standards for both microgeneration products and installers; and why we have consulted on whether the renewable heat incentive should, where practicable, be conditional on energy efficiency measures being carried out.
In response to the hon. Gentleman's question about whether we will continuously assess and monitor the installations, we should recognise that we can set the renewable heat incentive at a level that would essentially require that to be done. We can set it at a level that would assume that the home is properly insulated and that the COP, the coefficient of performance, would be at a level to give us the assurance of efficiency. Otherwise, the consumer would not get sufficient income to justify the investment. There are ways in which the work we are doing to define and refine the renewable heat incentive can be used as a driver of efficiency. Our findings on that will be published over the course of the next few weeks. That will be an important part of the process.
We need to recognise that many different types of technology are included in the concept of heat pumps. There are fundamentally different types, including those that use water, ground-source heat pumps or air-source heat pumps. We are looking at a policy that will drive investment towards them, because we believe, as the hon. Gentleman does, that they can make an important contribution in the battle against climate change. We can help individual consumers to understand the contribution they can make in their own homes towards tackling some of the problems we are facing.
There is a well established market for heat pumps, predominantly in the commercial sector so far. More than 90% of the 217,000 heat pumps installed in 2009 were in the commercial sector. There is also a growing number of domestic heat pumps-a technology to which we are paying close attention. Our view is that they are one of the most energy-efficient ways to provide heating and cooling in many applications, as they can use renewable heat sources in their surroundings. Even at
lower temperatures, the air, ground and water around us contain useful heat that is continuously replenished. By applying a little more energy, normally from electricity, a heat pump can raise the temperature of that heat energy to the level required. Heat pumps can also use waste heat sources, such as from industrial processes, cooling equipment or ventilation air extracted from buildings.
We have been increasingly interested in heat pumps because the analysis of pathways to 2050 suggests that in almost all scenarios there is a high degree of electrification of heating in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80%. By that stage, the grid is projected to be mainly decarbonised, so electric heating offers a low-carbon alternative to gas. In that context, domestic heat pumps could provide an efficient way to raise the performance of electric heating. The International Energy Agency has estimated that heat pumps might contribute 6% of global CO2 emissions reductions over the time scale.
By 2020, we also have to increase dramatically, for reasons of security of supply as well as climate change, the proportion of energy that comes from renewable resources such as solar or wind. Our level of ambition is suggested by our proposed contribution to the meeting of renewable energy targets. Those targets cover not just electricity, but heat and transport fuel. Heat pumps in that context, as long as they are efficient enough, count as renewable-or rather, the fraction of heat provided by the geothermal or aerothermal source, minus what the electricity produces directly, counts as renewable.
We aim to ensure that renewable heat plays a robust role in meeting our renewable energy targets for 2020. To help to achieve that ambition, we have announced that from June 2011, we will be launching a renewable heat incentive. Current scenarios suggest it will encourage up to 800,000 domestic or commercial heat pumps by 2020, but we are already supporting the installation of heat pumps to improve household energy efficiency and reduce fuel poverty. An estimated 2,245 ground-source heat pumps have been installed through the carbon emissions reduction target. Energy suppliers, who have to meet carbon emissions reduction goals, have increasingly chosen to meet their goal by the promotion of heat pumps in the domestic sector.
Nevertheless, we recognise that the technology is not yet mature. Much work still needs to be done to answer the sort of questions that the hon. Gentleman has raised. We need to challenge the industry to improve efficiency standards for their products, because we recognise that issues with heat pumps remain. My officials have already met heat pump industry representatives to consider how they can tighten standards.
Turning to the specific issues raised by the hon. Gentleman, some heat pumps use hydrofluorocarbons-a type of fluorinated gas-as refrigerant. Such gases are greenhouse gases that come under the Kyoto protocol. Like stationary air conditioning and refrigeration equipment that also uses those gases-supermarket refrigeration, for example-heat pumps are subject to the provisions of a comprehensive EU regulatory framework, fully underpinned in the UK by domestic legislation. The framework aims to minimise gas emissions by ensuring that equipment is properly installed, serviced and disposed of. We are satisfied that the risk of HFC leakage is very small, but both the Department of Energy and Climate
Change and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs are aware of the issue.
It is also our understanding that because most small heat pumps are hermetically sealed, the risk of leakage arises not during use but during disposal. The gas is securely contained within the units. However, I will give way if the hon. Gentleman wishes to make any further point on the matter.
Graham Stringer: I am grateful for that answer, which is in line with the answers that I have received, but is the Minister not concerned that studies have found leakage rates of 8% and that there is no mandated level of allowable leakage? Some units clearly leak, and there is no standard or maximum.
Charles Hendry: I will clarify that in writing to the hon. Gentleman, if I may, as I think he wants a very specific response, but I can reassure him that the levels are similar to those in refrigeration. The same emissions issues that apply to standards for refrigeration apply to other devices, including heat pumps.
The hon. Gentleman rightly mentioned efficiency and whether heat pumps are truly renewable. Like electric cars, they rely on electricity, but we are considering how we can be sure that they are renewable. We will work within European guidelines. He pointed out the problems identified in some of the models examined for compliance with European standards. We will continue the work being carried out to gain clarity in the evidence available to us.
As the hon. Gentleman said, the Energy Saving Trust has published results for the first year that were certainly mixed. In some cases, heat pumps performed as expected; in others, they ran so inefficiently that they produced more carbon emissions than a gas boiler. There is a gap, for a number of complex reasons, between design and actual performance. We have therefore decided to hold a second round of field trials to examine those questions in more detail. The project will continue for a further year, and we will then compare this winter's performance with last winter's. Given that manufacturers and installers have identified several areas where improvements can be made, we can expect to see significant improvements in most of the very poor-performing sites.
My hon. Friend the Member for Hove (Mike Weatherley) mentioned installations on chalk in his constituency. That will clearly be a significant issue for large parts of the south coast. We understand that the technology is more challenging in that area; the chalk base is particularly poor for conductivity purposes, so how ground-source
pumps are installed in such areas must be considered carefully. We have therefore requested that people in all parts of the country consider the local geology in order to be certain that the technologies are appropriate for those locations. However, as his is a coastal area, we hope to see development of water-based heat pumps. In addition, the sunny climes of the south coast would ensure that air-source heat pumps have a significant contribution to make.
One thing is becoming clear: no technology can be considered in isolation. There are issues involving control systems, the integration of different technologies in a home or business and how best to co-ordinate a properly managed installation. All those considerations point to the need for better procurement, quality assurance and project management. Consumer behaviour is also an issue: it is most efficient to keep a heat pump running for a long time at a low temperature, but consumers might not realize that. However, the hon. Gentleman clarified it effectively.
We know from experience in other countries that improving standards for product design and installation and building consumer confidence are important to creating a sustainable industry. To support quality and drive standards, we will require installations receiving public money to be certified under the microgeneration certification scheme which is now administered as an independent, not-for-profit accredited certification scheme. The MCS approves products and installer companies against industry-agreed standards and requires that installer companies belong to a consumer code of practice that meets requirements similar to those of the Office of Fair Trading. It is therefore likely that the MCS will be linked to the renewable heat incentive, as it has been to electricity feed-in tariffs, to give consumers assurances about the safety, durability and performance of heat pumps and other on-site heat technologies.
To conclude, I welcome this debate and hope that I have been able to reassure the hon. Gentleman on some of the issues that he raised. What strikes us the most clearly at the moment is the range of new technologies that are emerging at an extraordinary pace to deal with some of the challenges that we face on both the energy and the climate change fronts. We have to be sure, though, that those technologies work well. We believe that heat pumps offer the prospect of an exceptional contribution to meeting the challenges and the goals that we have set, but we must ensure that consumers understand what they are buying, that they get a good deal and an efficient product, and that it makes the contribution that we all hope for.
Mr Andrew Turner (Isle of Wight) (Con): Mr Sheridan, it is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship this afternoon. I know that the Minister's diary was rearranged to enable him to be here today. I thank him for that, and hope that he agrees that this is an important debate.
Some issues attract overwhelming public support. One is a call to ban all imports into the UK of lion trophies. Many people are amazed that the UK still allows such trophies to be imported. I became personally interested in the issue during a campaign organised by the charity LionAid to highlight rapidly declining lion populations. With LionAid, I visited the Isle of Wight zoo, where a majestic white lion named Casper served as an ambassador for their message. LionAid works to protect and conserve lions and raise awareness of their plight. One of its trustees, Chris Macsween, is present today. I thank her and Dr Pieter Kat for their help in preparing for this debate.
I would like to outline a few facts about the decline of this magnificent big cat. Lions used to be widespread across Africa-indeed, they used to be found in southern Europe, across the middle east and well into India-but today, they are found only in sub-Saharan Africa, except for one small remnant population left in western India. Everywhere else, they have been persecuted and eradicated.
In the 1960s, it was estimated that there were 200,000 lions on the African continent. Sadly, only 20,000 are left today. In central and western Africa, only a few scattered groups remain, numbering not more than a few dozen individuals. In all Africa, it is estimated that that only six significant populations are left-in Tanzania, northern Botswana, and the Kruger national park in South Africa. Recent surveys in Ghana have shown that lions have become locally extinct. Kenya and Uganda have both announced that they estimate that their lion populations will become extinct in the next 10 years or so. In Nigeria, evidence of lions was discovered in only two of six locations where they were thought to exist until recently.
The causes of the decline are largely attributable to humans protecting their own lives and livestock. Lion habitat is increasingly being given over to agriculture to feed the rapidly growing human population. Where lions come into contact with humans, history has long shown that lions must make way. Realistically, such decline is not preventable and there will never be 200,000 lions in Africa again. However, with the lion population in such rapid decline, it is surprising that sport hunting is still permitted in the wild. We must not underestimate the impact such hunting has on lion numbers. Again, I shall provide some facts on that.
Mike Crockart (Edinburgh West) (LD): Does my hon. Friend agree that the most worrying aspect of trophy hunting is that it concentrates almost exclusively on the male lions? Although total populations may be around 20,000 in Africa, only some 3,000 of those are males, which means the species is even more at risk.
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. I will come on to that point later. Between 2000 and 2008, some 4,250 wild lions were exported as trophies. I make
that distinction because South Africa specifically breeds lions for captive hunting. Sport hunting refers to animals killed for the prize of an animal trophy, usually the skin or mounted head of the animal. That can be done legally in a few places, such as game reserves. However, illegal sport hunting across Africa and poachers selling on lion trophies to the rest of the world is a real issue.
Sport hunting mostly targets adult male animals. Hunters regard them as the most impressive to kill. Out of the 20,000 lions that remain in Africa, there are lions of all ages and both sexes, from the youngest cub to the most ancient female. However, it is estimated that only 15% at most of any lion population is composed of adult males-the primary trophy targets. Therefore, instead of the figure of 20,000, we must think of 3,000 as the trophy hunting reserve. That figure is further reduced by subtracting the male lions who live in protected areas, such as Kruger national park. That level of specific removal from any population, particularly one in free-fall, is neither ethical nor sustainable. Taking out male lions that cannot be replaced is aptly called "mining".
Where did all those trophies originate from? Between 2002 and 2007, the number of trophies exported was more than 1,000 from Tanzania, 935 from South Africa, 455 from Zimbabwe, 283 from Zambia, and 97 from Mozambique. Those are the top five exporting countries. Based on lion population estimates for 2002, the percentage of the wild lion population that was exported in that year was 13% in Tanzania, 33% in South Africa, 32% in Zimbabwe, 14% in Zambia and 11% in Mozambique. I stress that those percentages are based on the total population, not the adult male population. I hope we can all agree that such a situation cannot continue.
Lions are social animals. Their family unit is the pride. Pride territories are held long term by the females, while adult males emigrate from their original prides. They become nomadic for some time and then challenge resident males to gain their chance at reproduction. A feature of lion biology is that victorious incoming males will kill cubs belonging to the previous pride males. That ensures that newly won females will raise the cubs with their genes instead of those belonging to their predecessor. Females need at least 30 months to successfully raise cubs. That becomes an issue, given the length of time between the previous males, and loss due to hunting of the incoming males. In other words, a rapid turnover in males can result in no reproduction at all in a pride. Such a rapid turnover is entirely predictable; indeed, it is inevitable when male lions are trophy hunted.
Lions have socially complex lives. There are many reasons why they should not be the target of sport hunting, apart from the simple fact that there are dwindling numbers. Disease is also an important consideration. In 1994, more than 1,000 lions died in the Serengeti in Tanzania alone because of an outbreak of canine distemper. Bovine tuberculosis is a severe threat to the lions in Kruger national park in South Africa. Both diseases have domestic animal origins. Feline immunodeficiency virus-a cause of feline AIDS-is widespread among eastern and southern African lion populations and affects both reproduction and longevity. Such diseases contribute to the overall decline and instability of the few remaining lion populations.
Stronger action should clearly have been taken before now to prevent lion trophy hunting. Relevant international organisations include the International
Union for Conservation of Nature, and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. They have been entrusted with the conservation and regulation of international trade in species to conserve biodiversity. Both organisations have listed lions as vulnerable for many years. However, rather than taking effective action, sadly, those organisations have overseen their decline.
For example, the last time lions were on the CITES agenda was in 2004, when Kenya requested an upgrade on to appendix I. That is the highest list for endangered animals, and being on it would have imposed severe restrictions on all international trade. Such action was watered down by members of the convention and instead it called for regional meetings, so that individual range states with a recognised lion population could agree on lion conservation needs. Those meetings were, in fact, in part financed by the UK. The meeting for eastern and southern African range states has, to this day, failed to meet any significant deadlines or act on any important recommendations.
Lions have not even appeared on the CITES agenda in 2007 or 2010. It should be noted that CITES votes are often influenced by powerful lobbying and special interest groups. That was apparent at the most recent meeting in Doha. Efforts to protect the threatened bluefin tuna-a staple ingredient in sushi-were defeated in the face of staunch opposition from Japan. Significantly, powerful so-called pro-sport hunting lobbies have boasted about defeating moves to add lions to the agenda, and they have already announced their intention to block any such consideration at the next CITES meeting in 2013. One such lobbying group, Safari Club International, has pledged financial support to assist CITES with current budget troubles.
What are the individual range states doing? It is a mixed picture. Only Kenya has had a long-standing, anti-trophy hunting stance. Uganda has announced that hunting in reserves will cease by 2011. Botswana announced a reversible moratorium on lion trophy hunting in 2008. Tanzania and Mozambique have implemented stricter controls on the minimum age at which male lions can be killed for trophies, but they have not stopped the practice. Other range states, such as Cameroon, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Namibia, have not implemented specific plans to save their dwindling lion populations. They might have good intentions, but they have yet to take effective action.
I accept that the UK is a relatively minor importer of wild lion trophies overall, having imported about 50 between 2002 and 2008, compared with 317 for Spain, 274 for France, 170 for Mexico, 146 for Germany and a staggering 2,792 for the United States. Britain also imported 11 captive-bred lion trophies during the same period. Therefore, it could well be asked why we are being asked to take a stance, since we are such a minor part of the problem. Could not the issue be much more effectively discussed by the United States? I believe that to take such an attitude would be mistaken for two reasons.
First, the UK is a country, more than any other, where symbolism of lions is important to the public and central to our national identity. Lion symbols are found practically everywhere we turn: in our statues, our emblems and even our sports teams. We, perhaps more than any
other nation, have taken lions to heart to stand for attributes that we admire, such as courage, steadfastness, loyalty, and nobility.
Secondly, our voice is a powerful one among nations. We are a leading member of the Commonwealth, the United Nations and even the Common Market. We are signatories to the convention on biological diversity and other international conventions. A leadership position adopted by the British Government would support range states in resisting the massive pressures they face from the trophy hunting lobbyists and help them to implement their good intentions. Our nation should set a strong precedent, rather than meekly following in the footsteps of others and thus allowing the extinction of lions in the wild.
In 2004, my hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Miss McIntosh) asked what action the Government were taking to save the lion. She was told that the then Labour Government would press for "collaborative action" through CITES to ensure that the lion does not become endangered. However, the fate of the lion was not even placed on the CITES agenda in 2007 or 2010. The next meeting is not until 2013. I hope the new Government will take decisive action to save these majestic animals. The first step is banning the import into the UK of lion trophies and taking a lead on the issue now, before it is too late, and before the wild African lion is lost for ever.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Richard Benyon): I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Isle of Wight (Mr Turner) on securing the debate and speaking so passionately on a matter that is clearly of great concern to him. I also pay tribute to LionAid and the conservation work done by the Isle of Wight zoo. The work of such organisations does have an effect, but we must ensure that it does not come too late for some species, and I agree about the urgent need for action. I share his concern and am equally passionate about the subject. I am lucky enough to have seen a considerable number of lions in the wild, and I want my children and grandchildren to have the same experience.
The Government have set out to be the greenest ever, and we carry that ethos into our international dealings. Indeed, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has recently returned from the conference for the parties to the convention on biological diversity in Nagoya, where she played a pivotal role in securing a range of historic agreements that will benefit biodiversity across the globe.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Isle of Wight pointed out, the African lion has been in decline for many decades and has come under increasing pressure as a result of the spread of mankind across Africa. As he acknowledged, most of the animals killed by man have been killed to protect people or livestock, but several countries in sub-Saharan Africa allow people to hunt lions for sport. There is little we can do to control what occurs within another country's borders, but we can and do seek to influence them when we are concerned about how they are acting. For instance, Ministers can write to their opposite numbers in a country to draw attention to our concerns or raise issues during official visits.
We can also use our membership of international conventions to bring influence or provoke reflection. I have already mentioned the recent successes achieved through the CBD, and my hon. Friend mentioned CITES, a convention that is intended specifically to regulate trade in wildlife, both fauna and flora, to ensure that the survival of species in the wild is not threatened. The UK, along with 174 other countries, is a party to CITES. The convention looks to regulate the import and export of around 33,000 specimens of wild plants and animals through a licensing system. Trade in those specimens most at risk is effectively banned, except in exceptional circumstances, by placing them on its appendix I. The African lion is presently on appendix II, which allows for regulated and sustainable trade.
As my hon. Friend has stated, lion numbers are clearly in decline. In 2008, the International Union for Conservation of Nature declared in its red list assessment that the wild population of African lions was "vulnerable", and the two most recent assessments of population size declared that the population was somewhere between 16,500 and 47,000. An accurate assessment is, for obvious reasons, notoriously difficult to calculate, but we know that the population is decreasing.
The threats to the species are numerous, but in 2004 the threat of trade was not thought sufficient to uplist the species to CITES appendix I, and no range state felt that it was necessary to make such a proposal at the two subsequent conferences of the parties, where such decisions are taken, in 2007 and 2010. CITES works by range states making such proposals to ensure that there is support from the affected region. Therefore, we would look to countries such as Kenya to take the lead, as it has the most knowledge of the situation and the tools to implement any measures required. Kenya proposed uplisting the lion to appendix I in 2004, but the parties to CITES felt that the preparation and implementation of management plans would suffice, and as a result Kenya withdrew its proposal. I am happy to report that we work closely with Kenya's wildlife service and are supporting it actively and financially in certain activities, particularly in support for elephant populations. I will continue to build on my relationship with Ministers there and will work with colleagues across Government to take forward the points that my hon. Friend has raised.
I should point out that, as a consequence of the EU single market, CITES has been transposed into European law via regulations that have direct effect in all member states. Those regulations list species in annexes, roughly equivalent to the CITES appendices, and also impose a number of stricter measures, including the requirement for member states to issue import permits in addition to the export permits issued by the exporting country. However, hunting trophies are regarded in international terms as personal and household effects, as the commercial transaction occurred within another country rather than across borders, so no import permit is required for appendix II species, although they are for annex I species.
Trophy hunting is often an emotive subject, but many recognise that, if managed properly, it can actually benefit conservation. Hunters can pay large sums of money for the privilege of hunting, particularly for
Africa's "big five", which includes the lion. If it is managed properly and the income is fed back into conservation schemes and the local community, trophy hunting can have, and has had, a positive effect. Also, the value that hunting places on wildlife can often mean that some species are viewed differently by locals than they might previously have been, because they have a value and are more than just killers of livestock and a danger to families. Those who hunted those animals for food or their own protection in the past might now view their conservation as a sound investment. It is essential, of course, that such enterprises are managed effectively, with the conservation of the species being of paramount importance. Recent studies published earlier this year have raised some questions about lion trophy hunting.
Lion populations may be sparse in certain areas, but there may be concentrations of them in other areas. Our support for countries, and international operations, must be on the basis of better information about where the animals are, and the support that we can give to communities as a result. For example, until recently, Tanzania had authorised the taking of up to 500 animals per year, although our records suggest that takes have usually been in the mid 200s. Many of those animals are taken abroad as hunting trophies after they have been killed. The recent report into the status of lions in Tanzania makes several recommendations, including reduction of the quota, but we have yet to ascertain how Tanzania has reacted or will react to the recommendations.
As I have already made clear, it is for individual countries to manage their own wildlife, and, in the case of animals that can be killed, possibly for hunting trophies, to set their own quotas for each species, dependent on the population size. However, if there are concerns that trophy hunting is unsustainable in some places, we and the EU can raise questions and support tighter controls. Where we have such concerns, we would contact the exporting country concerned and normally also pass on our concerns to the CITES secretariat for broader consideration.
As CITES is a matter of EU competence and with the EU being a significant trading block for wildlife as well as everything else, it means that if the EU has concerns about the sustainability of wildlife it can bring considerable influence to bear through wildlife trade. Until the most recent reports voiced concern about the levels of some hunting trophy activities, the international community was not considering whether trade in lion trophies or the use of lion derivatives in medicines-another important point-posed sufficient threat to merit additional protection under CITES.
However, the UK is presently a member of the CITES animals committee and its standing committee. As a result of recent reports and my hon. Friend's debate today, I have asked my officials to look into the matter to see what opportunities are presented, and I shall report their findings to him. I hope that he is convinced from what I have said that the Government take seriously the conservation of international wildlife, including the lion, and I look forward to working with him on any further concerns that he has.