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What analysis they have made of future opportunities for reducing conventional common agricultural policy support in order to permit greater discretionary spending by member states on targeted objectives, such as increasing the number of United Kingdom dairy farms, which have fallen from 28,000 in 1995 to 13,000. [HL1314]
The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): We believe that the best opportunities for dairy farmers come from getting closer to the market. Some further restructuring of the industry is expected as it moves to adapt to greater trade liberalisation and the phase-out of dairy quotas, but it is not government policy to set targets for, or try to influence, the number of farms which operate in any particular sector.
The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): I do not consider that there is any reason for reviewing the role of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in initiating proceedings for offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
Following the recommendation of the 2005 report of the House of Commons Select Committee on Environmental Audit, whether any additional funding has been made available to local authorities for carrying out their duties in relation to part L of the building regulations; and [HL1163]
Following the recommendation of the 2005 report of the House of Commons Select Committee on Environmental Audit, whether local authorities have been set targets for the levels of post-completion checks covering part L of the building regulations carried out by inspectors; and[HL1164]
Following the recommendation of the 2005 report of the House of Commons Select Committee on Environmental Audit, what reviews have been carried out of the problem of non-compliance with part L of the building regulations in newly built dwellings. [HL1165]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): Regulation 5 of the Building (Local Authority Charges) Regulations 1998 requires local authorities to set their own charging schemes such that they are able fully to recover the cost of carrying out their prescribed building control functions. No additional funding has therefore been made available to local authorities in connection with enforcement of part L of the building regulations.
Post-completion checks on the whole of part L are not required in law although the Government did introduce mandatory pressure testing of new homes in 2006. This is an important part of local authorities' role and they are expected to ensure that such a test is undertaken before a completion certificate is issued. Building control is, however, a devolved service and no central targets are currently set for local authority building control departments on this or any other element of compliance.
Part L was last revised in April 2006 and was accompanied by a major dissemination and training exercise with the aim of improving compliance. As new houses are only now being built and completed to the revised standards, a post-implementation review of levels of compliance before now would have been premature. An independent assessment of compliance with part L (2006) is, however, due to begin shortly, and will form part of our preparations for the further revision of part L planned for 2010.
Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Andrews on 7 January (WA 1656), how they will be able to measure the future contribution of new housing stock to carbon emissions without a central register detailing the percentage of new dwellings that are compliant with part L of the building regulations. [HL1220]
Baroness Andrews: The department is made aware of the numbers of completed new dwellings on a routine basis. The average impact of preceding amendments to part L requirements on energy performance of new dwellings is routinely assessed as part of the programme of work which is undertaken to support future changes to part L of the building regulations. The Government have already announced that the next amendment to part L will take place in 2010. We have begun our work to prepare for this amendment and will, as part of this, be conducting research into levels of compliance with the 2006 amendment.
The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): The process for appointment of the chair designate of the shadow Committee on Climate Change is under way and we aim to appoint as soon as it has been completed.
Lord Rooker: This appointment is being administered by officials within government departments and regulated and monitored by the Office for the Commissioner of Public Appointments (OCPA). The Secretary of State for Defra and the relevant Ministers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will agree on the appointment of the committee chair.
Lord Rooker: A shadow secretariat has been established within the Office of Climate Change to begin the analysis that will underpin the committee's advice on the level of the first three carbon budgets and its review of the 2050 target. There are currently 17 people working in the shadow secretariat, and further appointments may be made in the coming months.
As set out in the impact assessment for the Climate Change Bill, we estimate that the annual cost of the secretariat to the Committee on Climate Change (excluding the costs of accommodation and other running costs) will be approximately £1,300,000. This estimate is based on a secretariat of 20 staff.
What consideration has been given to electricity production prices in the light of the expected increased price of allocations in the second phase of the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme. [HL686]
The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): The regulatory impact assessments carried out as part of the consultation process for the UK Phase II National Allocation Plan estimated that UK industrial electricity prices would increase by 1 per cent and domestic prices by 0.5 per cent, compared to Phase I, as a result of the UK cap.
The uncertainty involving the carbon price and electricity prices means that these impacts are indicative only. It is estimated that for every €1 increase in the carbon price, the wholesale price of electricity increases by up to 0.45 per megawatt hour. The increases seen in electricity prices are only partly due to the impact of the carbon price. Around 75 per cent of the increase is due to rising fuel prices.
The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): We will be seeking to identify an appropriate opportunity to bring forward coastal access legislation. The Marine Bill is a possibility but no decision has yet been made.
Whether they are opposing the proposal of the European Commission to cut individual farm payments over £70,000 by 10 per cent, those over £140,000 by 25 per cent and those over £210,000 by 45 per cent; and, if so, on what principles they base their opposition. [HL1166]
The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): The European Commission has not made formal proposals for limiting support to recipients of larger payments under the common agricultural policy (CAP). However, it has raised the possibility as part of its consultation on the forthcoming health check reform of the CAP. The Government will respond to that consultation in the spring, after discussion with stakeholders.
We have opposed such limits when they have been proposed in the past on the grounds that they would distort the industry by discouraging the adoption of sensible, market-based, business models and prove administratively burdensome for farmers, while doing nothing to further the root and branch reform of the CAP which the Government believe is necessary.
The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): As part of the pilot studies in Cheshire and Shropshire, Natural England developed and implemented research standards for systematically researching key historic documentary resources. Natural England has not published these research standards. Decisions on whether to do so are part of the review process that Natural England is currently concluding.
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Rooker on 17 October 2007 (WA 534), whether the review of Discovering Lost Ways by Natural England to define the most cost-effective approach to the project has been completed and the report sent to Ministers; whether it will be published; and, if it has been completed, how they intend to proceed with this project. [HL1217]
Lord Rooker: Natural England is currently finalising its advice on the way forward for the Discovering Lost Ways project. We expect Natural England to report early this year on the outcome of its deliberations. Information on the decisions and the way forward will be shared with key stakeholders and made available to other parties on request.
What effect increasing wholesale prices for fossil fuels caused by political instability in some oil and gas producing countries and increasing demand from developing countries will have on the United Kingdom's security of supply and on the economy in general, in particular, on levels of inflation and employment. [HL1148]
Lord Bach: The UK is well served with a diverse range of gas and oil importation infrastructure and so is not dependent on supplies from any one source, although the price paid for energy imports will need to reflect global market conditions.
The 2007 Pre-Budget Report and Comprehensive Spending Review (Cm 7227) set out an assessment of the economic impact of recent developments in energy prices (Annex A), and the Government will update this assessment, as usual, in the forthcoming Budget.
Following the positive appraisal of capital grants, soft loans and fiscal exemptions in the 2003 Imperial College London Centre for Energy Policy and Technology report commissioned by the Department for Trade and Industry, why these measures have not been more intensively used to encourage the entry of renewable technology into the electricity production industry. [HL897]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office & Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Lord Jones of Birmingham): The Government use a range of measures including capital grants, soft loans and fiscal exemptions to encourage renewable technologies. The Government's commitment of some £500 million to low- carbon technologies since 2002 includes capital grants for offshore wind, bioenergy, marine and microgeneration technologies. Fiscal incentives have also been used; for example, renewable generating stations are exempt from the climate change levy. There have also been interest-free loans, for example, to SMEs from the Carbon Trust for renewable technologies where the carbon saving and financial characteristics meet the requirements of the energy efficiency loans scheme. In addition, the Carbon Trust funds Salix, an independent, publicly funded company, to provide interest-free invest-to-save schemes to the public sector to invest in energy efficiency measures and technologies.
What progress has been made in realising the Severn barrage project since the positive appraisal of the project given in the Sustainable Development Commission's report on tidal power of 1 October. [HL737]
Lord Bach: Ofgem's response to the recent consultation on Reform of the Renewables Obligation (RO) included its views on the support provided by the RO for renewables in general but we have not received anything specifically on subsidies for wind farms or their efficiency in lowering carbon dioxide emissions. The views expressed by Ofgem are available from the BERR website1 and have been taken into account in formulating the Government's response to the consultation.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office & Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Lord Jones of Birmingham): The Government do not have a target for 25 GW of renewable power generation.
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