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Fishery Protection Squadron

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord Whitty: Defra contracts out the services of aerial surveillance to DirectFlight Limited. For 2005–06, DirectFlight will provide Defra with 1,000 "on task" hours. The company operates two Cessna 406 aircraft out of Exeter Airport and is tasked by the Sea Fisheries Inspectorate to undertake monitoring, control and surveillance of English and Welsh waters within British fishery limits. The aircraft have occasionally operated in waters of another member state and in international waters.

As part of our tasking programme, consideration is given to joint operations between surveillance aircraft and Royal Navy fishery protection vessels where it is appropriate for effective monitoring, control and surveillance.

No detailed records are maintained of flights where tasking of a ship and an aircraft is programmed or has been undertaken. Likewise, an aircraft and a FPV may communicate and co-operate but no detailed records of this are maintained. Communication between aircraft and FPV is encouraged by the Sea Fisheries Inspectorate and even though an aircraft and FPV may not be working in the same area communications may take place as the vessel might be gaining an insight as to activity for areas it may be working in later in a patrol. All aircraft sightings are downloaded and collected by the ships the following morning after a flight.

The following table sets out the activity of the two aircraft for the past four years.
2001200220032004
On Task Hours 1 1,7731,7411,4401,484
Total Mission hours1,9551,8951,6321,633
Targeted Hours 2 (No. of Flights)1,061 (270)900 (222)709 (181)686 (197)
Routine Hours (No. of Flights)712 (194)841 (215)731 (198)798 (180)
Total number of patrols470437384374




Notes


On task hours relates to the time when the aircraft is charging Defra for the patrol.


Mission hours relates to the difference between take-off and touch-down times.


Target relates to a patrol where the aircraft is undertaking a specific task within the patrol parameter.


Routine relates to a patrol where the aircraft is generally tending to conduct a search patrol without any specific target.


Total Patrols: This may include aborted patrols or patrols with both a routine and target element.


1 Figures rounded to nearest whole hour.


2 Targeted and Routine hours are a function of the "on task" hours.







 
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Avian Flu: Importation of Bird Feathers

The Duke of Montrose asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Whitty: Veterinary checks are the responsibility of official veterinary surgeons (OVS). The Products of Animal Origin (Third Country Imports) (England) (No. 4) Regulations 2004 require that the OVS are qualified veterinary surgeons that have participated in a specialised training programme. Defra organises training courses for the OVS. Trained technical officers may assist the OVS and the OVS is responsible for ensuring that the technical officers have undergone suitable training.

The Duke of Montrose asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Whitty: The possibility of a very small amount cross-contamination cannot be completely excluded.

However, commercial demand for a high quality product makes it unlikely that such contamination would occur. Checks at import would identify contamination at anything other than a very low level.

The Duke of Montrose asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Whitty: Under EU rules every consignment of processed feathers from countries under restriction because of avian influenza are checked at border inspection posts on entry into the EU. Imports of processed feathers must be accompanied by a commercial document stating that the feathers have been cleaned with a steam current or by some other method ensuring that no pathogens are transmitted shall accompany the consignment.

Cleaning feathers with a steam current or by some other method ensuring that no pathogens are transmitted is considered effective in significantly reducing the quantity of virus, if present, to a negligible level. Therefore no further testing is carried out.
 
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Cormorants: Control Licences

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Whitty: The proportion of licences issued is 75 per cent to still water fisheries and 25 per cent to riverine fisheries.

Bovine Tuberculosis

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Whitty: The statement referred to a package of new measures announced by Defra on 1 November 2004 to tighten surveillance and reduce the risk of bovine tuberculosis (TB) spreading to new areas. These include:

Further information is available in the publication TB in Cattle—changes to testing and controls available in the Library of the House or on the Defra website at www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/tb/pdf/tbcattle04.pdf.

Badgers

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Whitty: Badgers and their setts are fully protected under the provisions of the Protection of Badgers Act 1992. However, the Act does provide for the department to issue licences to interfere with badgers or their setts to prevent, amongst other things, serious damage to land, crops or property. Before such
 
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licences are issued, the site in question will be visited by the technical staff of the, Wildlife Management Team, the department's wildlife advisers, who will assess the situation and report to the administration unit who will then decide whether or not a licence will be issued.

Road Bridges

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: Her Majesty's Government do not monitor compliance with the non-statutory advice given in chapter 4 of the Traffic Signs Manual. This is the responsibility of the relevant traffic authorities and bridge owners.

Road Transport (Working Time) Regulations 2005

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: The regulations are due to come into force on 4 April, the 22nd day after the date the regulations were laid before Parliament (14 March). There are two public holidays during this period. Excluding Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays there are 13 days between the date the regulations were laid before Parliament and the date on which they are due to come into force, including the date of laying but not the date they come into force.

Crossrail Bill

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: The Secretary of State has no powers to direct either the Office of Rail Regulation or Network Rail not to petition against the Crossrail Bill. Discussions will continue with both bodies with a view to resolving as many issues as possible which might give rise to petitions.



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