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Contaminated Land

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent measures she has taken to clean up contaminated land sites in England and Wales; if she will take steps to recover costs from companies responsible for contaminating land; and if she will make a statement. [16975]

Mr. Meacher [holding answer 26 November 2001]: In April 2000 the new contaminated land regime (under Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990) came into force in England. It places a duty on local authorities to inspect their areas for contaminated land. The enforcing authority will then establish the appropriate person(s) to bear the costs of remediation, decide on the remediation required, and ensure that it takes place, whether through agreement, or by serving a remediation notice on the appropriate person(s), or by doing the work and then recovering the costs.

In most cases the appropriate persons will be those who caused or knowingly permitted the contamination, but if they cannot be found liability passes to the current owner or occupier unless the problem is solely one of water pollution. There is provision for waiving or reducing liability in certain circumstances, including cases of hardship. In this way, the regime reflects the "polluter pays" principle. It is described in detail in DETR Circular 02/2000, "Contaminated Land".

The Department's Contaminated Land Supplementary Credit Approval programme provides assistance to local authorities for capital works such as site investigations, and remediation where they are themselves the appropriate person or are unable to recover costs from others.

In addition, there are various other powers to deal with contamination arising from a breach of a current licence or permit. These also follow the polluter pays principle.

Farmers (Scotland)

Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list by region the amounts paid to farmers in Scotland for each of the (a) CAP and (b) UK schemes for which she is responsible, for the last five years. [18031]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 26 November 2001]: The Rural Payments Agency implements one scheme on behalf of Scottish Ministers with direct payments to

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farmers. This is the Slaughter Premium Scheme in respect of over-30-month animals only. The amounts paid, which are not available by region, were as follows:

2000 Scheme Year Payments1,371,756
2001 Scheme Year Payments(17)283,426

(17) To date

Other schemes involving payment direct to Scottish farmers are the responsibility of, and are implemented by Scottish Ministers.

Common Agricultural Policy

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the Government's policy is on the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy; how these reforms will be beneficial to agriculture in (a) Northern Ireland, (b) Scotland and (c) Wales; whether the policy was agreed with the devolved Administrations; and how the United Kingdom's policy on reform of the CAP has changed since devolution. [17240]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 26 November 2001]: Successive United Kingdom Governments have long been committed to radical reform of the CAP in order to bring benefits to UK consumers, taxpayers and farmers. Next summer we expect the EU Commission to initiate the mid-term review of the CAP following the Agenda 2000 reforms.

The United Kingdom Government have not yet finalised their position on the mid-term review but have signalled their view that the Community should seize the opportunity for a radical reform covering: a switch from market distorting subsidies (pillar 1) to support for rural development and environmental schemes (pillar 2); abolition of milk quotas and compulsory set aside; and decoupling of livestock payments. We believe that these changes are necessary to deliver the type of modern, market-driven, environmentally sensitive agriculture which will benefit society as a whole and is in the long-term best interests of the agricultural industry itself. They will also help achieve the EU's wider objectives as regards the WTO negotiations and enlargement.

The Government are discussing their position on the mid-term review and their objectives for longer-term CAP reform with the devolved Administrations in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. They will also take account of developments both in the industry and more widely. The United Kingdom's policy on the reform of the CAP has not, however, materially altered since devolution.

Animal Health Act

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the Government's use of the Animal Health Act 1981 to act against the importation of animal diseases. [18361]

Mr. Morley: Imports of live animals and the majority of animal products such as meat, fish, dairy products etc. are subject to EU rules implemented by national regulations made under the European Communities Act 1972. Some live animals and products requiring

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special authorisation before import, for example animal pathogens for research purposes, trade samples, and some live animals and products not subject to EU rules may only be imported in accordance with licences issued under the Animal Health Act 1981. The import conditions in these licences are designed to prevent the hazard of importing and spreading animal diseases.

Rural White Paper

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress has been made in implementing the Rural White Paper. [19267]

Alun Michael: Since publishing the Rural White Paper on 28 November 2000, we have taken decisive steps in delivering the plans we set out to develop and maintain a living, working, protected and vibrant countryside:

Although alleviating the devastating effects of foot and mouth disease dominated our work for many months, a great deal has been accomplished. But there is still a lot more to be done. The creation of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is bringing a new focus and drive to the Government's policies for rural England. Together with partners, we are working to deliver a better future for all those who live, work in and visit the countryside. We will be publishing a full progress report in December. Our key achievements include:

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