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Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Whitty: No such report was made to line managers or Ministers nor was there any requirement on the veterinary officers present on Burnside Farm on 24 and 27 February to make such a report. The overriding objective of the veterinary officers in attendance at Burnside Farm on 24 and 27 February was to oversee essential disease control operations on the farm.

Pesticides Safety Directorate: Procurator Fiscal's Report

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Whitty: The Procurator Fiscal's reference number for this case is FOO2500844 and the death was reported to the Procurator Fiscal's office on 8 May 2002.
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Flood Warning Systems

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Whitty: The Environment Agency is responsible for flood warning in England and the Government recently approved its £226 million flood warning strategy for the next 10 years.

The agency issued flood warnings in respect of the recent damaging flooding in Carlisle to the emergency services, the local authorities, those members of the public who had opted to receive warnings direct by telephone, and others. In addition, Radio Cumbria broadcast warnings throughout the event and both Cumbria Police and the Environment Agency used vehicles with loud hailers to warn people of the severe risk of flooding.

The agency issues the following levels of warning: severe flood warnings, flood warnings, flood watches and "all clear" notices. All four were issued for Carlisle during this event.

Direct warnings were given to those people who had subscribed to the flood warning service. The Environment Agency is active in encouraging properties and businesses to subscribe to the service, where it is available. The agency does not have the power to include properties without the owner's consent.

The agency is reviewing the flood event in Carlisle. The event was extreme and the weather conditions hostile. Carlisle endured storm force winds that brought down power cables and telephone lines and disrupted most mobile telephone networks. Although the adverse weather was one of the factors, it is too early to say why some people did not receive warnings.

Climate Change

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Whitty: Research funded by the department suggests that a local temperature change in Greenland of 2.7 degrees (compared to 1990 levels), which roughly corresponds to a global temperature change of two degrees, could trigger melting of the Greenland ice sheet.

Total melting of the ice sheet would depend on whether the temperature change was sustained or increasing. A sustained temperature change of
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2.7 degrees would result in a slow decrease in the size of the ice sheet over millennia and, possibly, its eventual elimination. A further increase in the temperature change is likely to result in the elimination of the ice sheet, over a timescale of a thousand years or more, depending on the size of the temperature rise. Complete melting of the ice sheet would result in sea level rise of approximately seven metres.

Ocean Temperatures: Methyl Hydrates

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Whitty: The potential release of methane from hydrates trapped under the ocean has not yet been quantified, but is the subject of research under the Defra-funded Climate Prediction Programme at the Hadley Centre. Warmer temperatures could trigger such a release, as they can destabilise the conditions under which the hydrates can exist. The Hadley Centre is investigating the conditions under which the hydrates could become unstable, and the temperatures that could initiate a release.

Bioethanol Industry

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Whitty: The Government are promoting the production of bioethanol through the 20 pence per litre cut in the duty rate that came into effect on 1 January this year. Work is also being carried out on a feasibility study on a renewable transport fuel obligation, and consideration is being given to the application of enhanced capital allowances to biofuel processing plants. The UK's 2005 and 2010 targets under the biofuels directive for the use of biofuels should also help to stimulate the bioethanol industry. The directive does not require the target for 2010 to be set until 2007. But the Government will announce an ambitious but realistic 2010 target as soon as possible in 2005, once the feasibility study on the obligation has been completed and possible delivery mechanisms have been considered.

English Nature

Lord Fearn asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord Whitty: English Nature has a statutory role in the selection and management of designated sites both at the coast and inland. There are around 380 coastal Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs). English Nature is required to consult widely over the designation of SSSIs, and is continuing to improve the openness and transparency of the designation process for all stakeholders. These procedures are set out in the Government's Sites of Special Scientific Interest: Encouraging Positive Partnership—Code of Guidance published by my department in 2003. For each SSSI there is a list of operations where consultation is required. This consultation is either between English Nature and the owner-occupier, or, where another public body is the consenting authority, between that body and English Nature. English Nature is a statutory consultee in respect of plans and projects likely to affect SSSIs or internationally important sites.

English Nature is currently in the process of producing its maritime strategy. This will inform the revision of English Nature's coastal policy and has been subject to a wide public consultation process in 2004. Communication is a key element of this strategy, in particular to improve the wider understanding of
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English Nature's approach to sustainable coastal management.

Brittany Ferries: Assistance Dogs

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: Following discussions between the Department for Transport and Brittany Ferries to discuss its policy on the carriage of guide dogs, we understand a trial took place on 15 and 16 December 2004 involving a return trip on the Portsmouth to Ouistreham crossing. A veterinary surgeon was present in addition to representatives from the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association (GDBA). A report is being prepared and the GDBA is due to meet with Brittany Ferries shortly to discuss the findings.

We will follow up with both organisations once they have reported on their findings.

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