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Woodland

Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of land in the UK is covered by woodland; what measures are in place to increase the planting of trees and woodland in the UK; and if she will make a statement on the use of sink holes to absorb carbon dioxide and reduce emissions. [26578]

Mr. Morley: Woodland cover in the UK stands at 11.5 per cent. We provide financial incentives to landowners to plant new woodland through the woodland grant scheme and the farm woodland premium scheme. These incentives and others, such as challenge funds, are targeted to meet our priorities and programmes for forestry.

Increasing the areas of sustainably managed forest and agriculture often has environmental benefits in removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The contributions that these will make to meeting our 12.5 per cent. emissions reduction commitment under the Kyoto protocol and to our domestic goal to reduce CO 2 emissions by 20 per cent. below 1990 levels by 2010, are described in "Climate Change—the UK Programme" and in the "UK's Third National Communication" under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, published in November 2000 and 2001 respectively.

Asbestos

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions she has had with EU officials about reclassification of asbestos cement as special waste; and how this relates to use of white asbestos as opposed to (a) blue and (b) brown asbestos. [25761]

Mr. Meacher [holding answer 10 January 2002]: All types of asbestos waste, including asbestos cement, have been classified as special waste in Great Britain since 1996 and in Northern Ireland since 1998. However there have been recent changes to the hazardous waste list, including the addition of asbestos cement on to the list. These were discussed between EU officials and my officials. We recognise the dangers posed by asbestos cement waste if it is not properly managed and supported the decision to reclassify it as hazardous waste.

England Rural Development Programme

Mr. Heath: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if appeals against a decision of a regional appraisal panel on an application for a processing and marketing grant under the England Rural Development Programme are considered by the panel making the original decision. [26418]

Alun Michael: No. The processing and marketing grant is a competitive and discretionary scheme administered regionally by DEFRA through the offices of the Rural Development Service (RDS). Appeals against non-selection for an award of grant are considered by the regional manager of another RDS region unconnected with the application.

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Mr. Heath: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what criteria are used to assess applications for processing and marketing grants under the England Rural Development Programme. [26417]

Alun Michael: Applications for the processing and marketing grant, rural enterprise scheme and vocational training scheme under the England Rural Development Programme are all subject to detailed technical assessment to determine the quality and value for money of the proposed project. The assessment covers: the need for the project; project objectives, performance indicators and milestones; sustainability (economic, environmental and social); relevance to key policy themes and national and regional priorities; financial viability; the requirement for public funds; the quality of plans for project management and delivery and the management of key risk and variables associated with the project. The size of the project determines the depth of the assessment.

Fuel Poverty

Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to her answer of 13 December 2001, Official Report, columns 999–1000, on fuel poverty, which section of the UK Fuel Poverty Strategy confirms a commitment to end fuel poverty using a definition which excludes housing benefit and income support and mortgage interest; and if she will make a statement on how this relates to paragraph 4.6 of the strategy. [25771]

Mr. Meacher: [holding answer 10 January 2002]: The UK Fuel Poverty Strategy sets out the goal of the Government and the devolved Administrations to seek an end to the problem of fuel poverty with the first target being to seek an end to the blight of fuel poverty for vulnerable households by 2010.

In the UK Fuel Poverty Strategy, the introduction to Chapter 4 (paragraphs 4.1 to 4.6) sets out the target for England and the definition to be used in England.

The number of households in fuel poverty in England is displayed on the basis of the two main definitions as follows:


Paragraph 9.4 sets out our intention to move to a single UK-wide definition of fuel poverty once the separate consultations have been completed in the devolved Administrations.

Until then, the nature of our programmes means that it is likely that the targets will be met on both definitions as set out in paragraph 4.6 of the strategy.

Foot and Mouth

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the average cost of decontamination and cleansing of farms was following foot and mouth infections. [26026]

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Mr. Morley: On premises where secondary cleansing and disinfection has been completed, the average cost per farm is about £39,000.

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the change in animal welfare and costs arising from the closure of livestock markets as a result of the foot and mouth epidemic and their replacement by sales via other means. [26035]

Mr. Morley: Livestock markets were closed to prevent the spread of foot and mouth disease. Markets will be reopened as soon as the disease risk assessment allows. In the meantime, livestock producers have found other means of selling their stock and it will be for them and their organisations to decide on how they should best proceed when markets are again available. The costs and benefits of livestock markets is one of the issues we will be considering post-FMD and in the light of the inquiry reports.

Tony Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much compensation was paid to farmers in Cumbria as a result of foot and mouth. [26048]

Mr. Morley: To date the total compensation paid to farmers in Cumbria, as a result of foot and mouth, is £421.8 million. This includes all compensation paid for animals slaughtered (including those slaughtered under the 3km cull) and for seized and destroyed items.

Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which date her Department will use to consider when exports and livestock markets may resume following the foot and mouth disease crisis; and if she will make a statement. [27624]

Mr. Morley: On 18 December, the Government announced changes to the livestock movement controls which we intend to introduce in February 2002 provided there is continued progress in eradicating FMD.

From the start of these arrangements, cattle markets will be allowed to resume, but for sheep and pigs, slaughter markets only will be allowed initially. The question of whether to allow other sheep and pig markets will be kept under review in the light of veterinary and scientific advice.

When markets do re-open, they will be subject to strict conditions to ensure that an appropriate level of biosecurity is maintained.

Exports of meat from FMD-free counties in Great Britain to EU countries resumed towards the end of last year but at this stage it is not possible to give a firm date for the removal of all remaining FMD restrictions on intra-community trade. The EU Standing Veterinary Committee will meet on 15 January to consider further proposals to relax the export restrictions, imposed on animals and animal products of species susceptible to FMD, introduced to prevent the spread of the virus.

Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of blood tests taken from (a) sheep, (b) cattle and (c) other livestock during the foot and mouth outbreak tested positively for the FMD virus. [27025]

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Mr. Morley: Information on blood tests taken by species is not available. However, of the 2,372 premises from which samples were taken, 56 per cent. returned positive results.

Details of numbers of premises sampled, by county and by premises status, along with the numbers returning positive results, are available in the Library of the House.





Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many appeals against valuations for FMD compensation were outstanding on 8 January. [27027]

Mr. Morley: On 8 January 2002 there were 1,293 unresolved cases as a result of owners appealing against the valuations of livestock compulsorily slaughtered as a result of foot and mouth disease. Of these, 150 are in Scotland.

Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the recommendations made by each of the working groups at the International Conference on Control and Prevention of Foot and Mouth Disease held in Brussels in December 2001; what plans she has to implement those recommendations in the United Kingdom; and if she will make a statement. [27656]

Mr. Morley: The Conference's working groups usefully highlighted some of the key areas the European Union needs to address and we will be working with our European partners in due course on a Commission proposal for a replacement European Council Directive concerning the prevention and control of foot and mouth disease. The outcome from the UK's own independent inquiries into the foot and mouth outbreak will also inform these deliberations.

The conference identified the need to develop a broad range of disease control options, based on science and including emergency vaccination, to meet particular circumstances. It was agreed that flexibility in the choice of methods of controlling and eradicating the disease and improved communications are required and that there is an urgent need for tests to differentiate between infected and vaccinated animals. The conference also considered ways of preventing future outbreaks, including tightening import controls at the European border.

Copies of the final conference report have been placed in the House of Commons and House of Lords Libraries. It can also be viewed on the DEFRA website www.defra.gov.uk/footandmouth.


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