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Flood Alleviation

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on farmers' access to funding when they present their land for use with flood alleviation. [8538]

Mr. Morley: This Department encourages a strategic approach to management of flood risk through the preparation of Shoreline Management Plans for the coastline and Catchment Flood Management Plans for rivers. These enable the identification of sustainable flood management options, including the possible use of farmland for flood alleviation purposes. In circumstances where quantifiable beneficial use arises, for example acquiring land for the construction or maintenance of defences, payment of compensation is possible. In specified circumstances land may be considered for payment under agri-environment schemes.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on progress towards flood alleviation in the lower Severn area, with specific reference to the introduction of the new computer model to assess risk. [8535]

Mr. Morley: We understand that the Environment Agency's Severn Estuary computer model is essentially complete, except for verification of results and some refinement to assess options for flood defences at Gloucester. The initial results are confirming the previous understanding of the levels of protection provided by existing defences. The results will be used to develop the Agency's Tidal Severn Strategy and to feed into feasibility studies for any proposed flood defence works.

Bovine Tuberculosis

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the proposal made in the latest report of the Independent Scientific Group on bovine tuberculosis regarding a suggestion that farmers should be seeking insurance against bovine tuberculosis breakdowns. [8542]

Mr. Morley: The third report of the Independent Scientific Group noted both compulsory insurance and compulsory levies as two possible future policy options available for transferring the cost of disease compensation from the public purse to the livestock industry. Neither was a proposal.

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They were identified by the group to allow as full a range of potential future policy options as possible to be considered when designing the scientific research programme necessary to underpin consideration of future policy on bovine TB. The chairman's introduction to the report made this clear.

Consideration of whether or not these or other policy options are appropriate for the control of bovine TB will take place when lessons learned from foot and mouth, CSF and the recommendations of the Government Industry Working Party on compensation have been fully evaluated.

National Forest

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if there is a wider application for the introduction of a tendering process for farmers who wish to plant woodlands, as currently exists in the national forest. [8537]

Mr. Morley: The tendering approach used in the National Forest Tender Scheme has already been applied to other challenges run under the Woodland Grant Scheme including the South West Forest, new native woodlands in national parks, and reversing the fragmentation of ancient woodland.

The Forestry Commission and DEFRA are currently conducting a review of woodland creation grants and will consider as part of this whether the tendering and challenge approach should be used more widely.


Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will introduce a waterways agency in her review of waterways management to improve accountability. [8211]

Mr. Meacher: The review under way covers the navigation responsibilities of the Environment Agency. The Agency, British Waterways and the Broads Authority manage nearly three-quarters of the navigable inland waterways and are already publicly accountable bodies. There are no plans to review the status of the remaining navigation authorities.

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress she has made in reviewing the structure of the management of waterways; and when she plans to report on the review. [8210]

Mr. Meacher: Following the publication of the report of Stage 1 of the Environment Agency Financial Management and Policy Review, I have met the Chairmen of the Agency and British Waterways to discuss the future of the Agency's navigation responsibilities. A decision will be announced shortly.

Waste Incineration

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the likely effects of the waste incineration directive on the UK biomass industry, with particular reference to the thermal recycling market. [2537]

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Mr. Meacher: A series of Regulatory and Environmental Impact Assessment reports on the then proposed Waste Incineration Directive were commissioned from consultants. Copies of the reports (dated 1999 and 2000) are available in the Library of the House and were circulated to the industry associations which were consulted during the seven years of the Directive negotiations. These reports include assessments of the estimated costs of compliance with the Directive relating to the waste biomass combustion industry.

The following figures (including the footnote) are taken from various parts of the October 2000 consultants' report.

£000/per annum

Plant typeNumber of plants operating or under construction in the UKNumber of plants surveyed by consultantEstimated costs of compliance(1)
Poultry litter and straw5 IPC Part A250–355
(2)2000+ others
Coffee grounds1126
Waste-refuse derived fuel32150–1,000
Paper and board1 IPC Part A130
No data on others

(1) 1998 prices

(2) Estimate

(3) In this sector, companies burning treated wood are expected to respond to the proposed Directive by switching away from combustion and towards disposal e.g. to landfill. Negligible cost impacts are expected.


IPC: Integrated Pollution Control under Part I of the Environmental Protection Act 1990

The Directive just applies to the incineration of waste, and Article 2.2(a) excludes from the Directive's scope incinerators or co-incinerators which treat only certain biomass waste, namely:

We will be consulting in due course on proposals for the transposition of the Directive.

The EU Directive on the promotion of electricity from renewable energy sources in the internal energy market classifies only the biodegradable element of waste as a renewable source. The Government have recently consulted on the Renewables Obligation and electricity generated from biomass (whether energy crops or waste in origin) will be eligible.

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Mr. Gareth R. Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many people were prosecuted in each of the last five years for litter offences. [8328]

Mr. Meacher: Details of the number of people prosecuted in each of the last five years for which figures are available in England and Wales for litter offences are given in the table. Details for 2000 are not yet available.

Number of defendants prosecuted at magistrates court and convicted at all courts in England and Wales for litter, 1996–99

Protection Act 19901997505352
Section 871998494377
Depositing litter1999501390

Nuclear Power

Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what contribution nuclear power has made in helping the United Kingdom meet its targets under the Kyoto Protocols; and what meetings she has had with representatives of the nuclear industry on the matter. [6629]

Mr. Meacher: Nuclear output was about one third higher in 2000 than in 1990. Because of this increase, UK greenhouse gas emissions in 2000 were between about

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1 per cent. and about 2 per cent. lower than they would have been if nuclear output had not increased. The future contribution of nuclear power will depend on how the industry develops, but we expect nuclear power to make a contribution to meeting the UK's current commitment under the Kyoto Protocol. I met representatives of British Energy to discuss this and other issues on 31 January.

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