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16 Jan 2008 : Column WA247



16 Jan 2008 : Column WA247

Written Answers

Wednesday 16 January 2008

Agriculture: Dairy Farms

Lord Dykes asked Her Majesty's Government:

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.

Animal Welfare: Cruelty

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

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.

Building Regulations

Lord Beaumont of Whitley asked Her Majesty's Government:



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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.

Lord Beaumont of Whitley asked Her Majesty's Government:

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.



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Climate Change

The Earl of Caithness asked Her Majesty's Government:

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.

The Earl of Caithness asked Her Majesty's Government:

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.

The Earl of Caithness asked Her Majesty's Government:

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.

Climate Change: Emissions Trading

Lord Beaumont of Whitley asked Her Majesty's Government:



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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.

Coast

Lord Greaves asked Her Majesty's Government:

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.

Common Agricultural Policy: Single Farm Payment

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

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.



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Discovering Lost Ways

Lord Greaves asked Her Majesty's Government:

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.

Lord Greaves asked Her Majesty's Government:

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.

Energy: Fossil Fuel Prices

Baroness Miller of Hendon asked Her Majesty's Government:

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.



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Energy: Renewables

Lord Beaumont of Whitley asked Her Majesty's Government:

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.

Energy: Severn Barrage

Lord Beaumont of Whitley asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bach: I refer the noble Lord to the updates given in the Severn barrage debate on 13 December 2007 (Official Report, cols. 375-408).

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform will be announcing further details on the scope of the feasibility study shortly.

Energy: Wind Generation

Lord Morris of Aberavon asked Her Majesty's Government:



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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.

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

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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