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Foot and Mouth

Brian Cotter: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) how the foot and mouth disease relief funding announced on Thursday 18 October will be allocated; [10096]

Alun Michael [holding answer 25 October 2001]: Five Regional Development Agencies will receive a share of the extra £15 million extension of the Business Recovery Fund provided by DEFRA:

£ million
North West7.0
North East1.5
West Midlands1.5
South West3.0

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when farmers who have been promised compensation relating to foot and mouth disease will receive it; when outstanding monetary payments in respect of contracts with his Department will be made; and what formula is used for calculating such payments. [8155]

Mr. Morley: The Department aims to pay compensation to farmers for animals slaughtered for foot and mouth disease control as soon as possible, subject to the checks necessary to protect public funds. At present there are just 33 payments outstanding at HQ.

Turning to contractors, our target is to pay those we employ within 30 days of receipt of a valid invoice. Given the large number of suppliers of goods and services which the Department has contracted—all of whom expect to be paid promptly—this target has proved difficult to meet. However, the time taken to process invoices is being reduced.

There is a duty to ensure proper, effective and efficient use of public money. This means that the Department cannot pay invoices for goods and/or services that are not accompanied by accurate supporting information as to the nature and extent of the goods and services supplied. Unfortunately this information is not always provided by some of the suppliers we have employed. This has made the Department's task much harder, and is often one of the main reasons for delays.

Invoices submitted to DEFRA by contractors are scrutinised individually to assess their validity. There is no standard formula to calculate payments.

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will provide financial help to assist farmers with feeding animals over the winter period on farms affected by foot and mouth disease. [6208]

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Mr. Morley: My officials are in touch with the Arthur Rank Foundation and with industry bodies about the work of the ARF's National Fodder Bureau and Government match funding for this charitable work.

Gait Barrows National Nature Reserve

Andrew Bennett: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps English Nature is taking (a) to ensure that Gait Barrows National Nature Reserve is not damaged by the Lunesdale Hunt and (b) to control the effects of hunting. [9602]

Alun Michael: Following incidents at Gait Barrows National Nature Reserve in February this year, which were brought to the attention of the Lancashire constabulary, English Nature wrote to the chairman of the Lunesdale Hunt requesting a full explanation of the incidents, and withdrew permission for the Hunt to enter the Reserve. A meeting with the chairman of the Hunt in March was postponed due to the foot and mouth outbreak. English Nature hope this will be held shortly, and will discuss the operation of the Hunt in the vicinity of National Nature Reserves generally and Gait Barrows in particular.

I understand the physical damage to the site has since recovered.

Energy Efficiency

Linda Gilroy: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will publish the overall improvements in energy efficiency as reported by each energy conservation authority in England for the last year for which figures are available. [10212]

Mr. Meacher: The latest reported figures by energy conservation authorities in England for the overall percentage improvements in domestic energy efficiency were given in my reply to my hon. Friend on 30 November 2000, Official Report, columns 757–58W.

Energy conservation authorities have now reported on their overall improvements to 31 March 2001. We are currently analysing this information and will make it available at the earliest opportunity.

Bovine TB

Mrs. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to take further steps to control the spread of bovine TB. [9805]

Mr. Morley: In its response to the First Report of the Agriculture Select Committee session 2000–01, the Government stated that they were

Future policy options will be discussed with stakeholders at the January meeting of the stakeholder group, the TB Forum.

Combined Heat and Power

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent

26 Oct 2001 : Column: 410W

assessment her Department has made of the implications for the Government's Climate Change Strategy of electricity generation from combined heat and power. [9937]

Mr. Meacher: Combined heat and power continues to play an important role in the UK's climate change programme. The UK's current installed CHP capacity of around 4,700 MWe is estimated to save around 4 million tonnes of carbon equivalent (MtC) per year. The carbon savings from increased use of CHP are reflected within those for a range of other policies within the programme, particularly the climate change levy, climate change agreements and community heating.

Biomass Energy

Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to increase the use of biomass as a fuel for energy production. [9946]

Mr. Meacher: We support the development of short rotation coppice and miscanthus for energy production through the Energy Crops Scheme. This is one of the integrated set of measures in the England Rural Development Programme and the scheme makes £29 million of funding available to farmers over seven years. In addition we promote the use of forest material, for example through planting grants under the Woodland Grant Scheme and the Farm Woodland Premium Scheme, and woodland maintenance grants under the WGS. Market opportunities are key to future uptake and we are working closely with Government Departments and other bodies to develop power generation, combined heat and power and heat markets in order to increase the use of biomass.

Mr. Levitt: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much (a) meat and bone meal, (b) coppiced wood and (c) other biomass was burnt in order to provide a direct source of useful energy (i) five years ago and (ii) at the present time; and how much he predicts will be used for this purpose in five years time. [9272]

Mr. Meacher: Five years ago the use of these materials for industrial-scale energy production was minimal. Current estimated usage in England is as follows:

Usage in five years' time will depend on market developments and the success of a range of Government and other initiatives. For example, the Energy Crops Scheme, which is part of the England Rural Development Programme, could support the establishment of 20–25,000 hectares of short-rotation coppice and miscanthus on farmland over the seven years of the programme. The Government see biomass as playing an important and increasing role in the development of renewable sources of heat and power generation.


Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to use the methane gas emitted from landfill sites as a potential fuel source. [9948]

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Mr. Meacher: The Landfill Directive requires landfill gas to be collected from all landfills receiving biodegradable waste, and for the collected landfill gas to be treated and, where possible, used. If the collected gas cannot be used to produce energy it must be flared.

Electricity Consumption

Mr. Salmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assistance is available to businesses to reduce electricity consumption; and if she will make a statement. [9204]

Mr. Meacher [holding answer 22 October 2001]: There are a number of measures available to assist business consumers to reduce their use of energy, including electricity. The Energy Efficiency Best Practice programme offers best practice advice and support to organisations in the private and public sectors, in turn helping them to reduce their electricity consumption.

Combined heat and power is one example of a high energy efficiency technology which almost doubles the overall efficiency of fuel utilisation and can help business reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions. Measures were introduced in April 2001 to help encourage investment in new combined heat and power.

An important component of the UK's Climate Change Programme is the Carbon Trust. Set up as a not-for-profit organisation by the Government and the devolved Administrations, the trust is encouraging the use of low-carbon technologies and resources in the business sector. The trust is expected to recycle approximately £100 million of climate change levy revenue over a three year period. The Carbon Trust will develop programmes to support new and emerging low-carbon technologies. It will also take on management of the Government's Energy Efficiency Best Practice programme and the Enhanced Capital Allowance scheme that provides a fiscal incentive to businesses to improve energy efficiency. This scheme gives 100 per cent. first year capital allowances for companies which invest in approved energy saving equipment.

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