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Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate she has made of the number of domestic appliance retailers who will cease take-back schemes because of a lack of recycling and processing facilities for domestic appliances containing CFCs and HCFCs. 
Mr. Meacher: It is estimated that virtually all retailers have ceased their take-back schemes for fridges and freezers. However, this is not due to a lack of a disposal route. Fridges and freezers collected from householders may be re-used, disposed of via high temperature incineration in the UK, exported for recycling in other member states, or stored pending recycling in the UK.
Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what storage facilities she has identified for the storage of fridges and deep freezers containing CFCs prior to their reprocessing. 
Mr. Meacher: The location of storage facilities is a matter for the waste management industry and local authorities. A number of companies and local authorities have identified suitable storage facilities and I understand that sufficient capacity is available for all fridges and freezers that would be disposed of in a typical year.
Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what advice she has given to local authorities regarding the increased cost of collecting domestic appliances containing CFCs from 1 January; and when she plans to announce additional resources to be made available to local authorities under the New Burdens Procedures; 
Mr. Meacher: In December we announced a payment of £6 million funding for local authorities to cover their costs until March 2002. We are continuing to assess the impacts of the regulation and will determine what further action is required beyond that. As part of this process, my officials are in contact with local authorities and their representatives to gather additional information about costs.
Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimates she has made of the cost to local authorities per refrigerator of the collection, storage and processing of CFC-containing refrigerators. 
Mr. Meacher: Collection costs will vary between local authorities and waste collection authorities may levy a charge to cover the costs of collection. I understand that the current charges levied by waste management companies for storage and processing of fridges are in the range of £22 to £35, but that these are likely to fall once more plants are operational. We expect new plants to come on-line in the spring.
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Many local authorities will choose to store fridges until prices are lower. The cost of storage will depend on whether local authorities have suitable land available, and the period for which fridges are stored.
Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if it was her policy to ensure that liquid processing facilities existed for the processing of CFC-containing refrigerators and refrigerators when EC Regulation 2037/2000 came into force on the 1 January. 
Mr. Meacher: The UK only received clarification of the requirements of the regulation with regards to ozone depleting substances in insulation foam in June 2001. As soon as this was received, officials worked, with stakeholders, on a package of measures, including funding for local authorities, technical standards for removal of ODS from fridges and standards for storage pending treatment. This package enabled companies to make the necessary investment decisions. Given the extremely tight time scale, it was always unlikely that processing plant would come on-line for 1 January. However, I understand that the first new plant is likely to be operational in spring 2002.
Mr. Lazarowicz: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions she has had with Scottish Ministers regarding managing waste refrigeration equipment in Scotland. 
Mr. Meacher: European Union Directive 90/220 lays down strict controls on the release of genetically modified (GM) organisms. It requires proposed releases to be considered on a case-by-case basis, with a detailed assessment of the potential risks to human health and the environment. The Government agree with this approach. At the same time, we have a voluntary agreement with the industry that GM crops will not be grown here commercially at least until the results of the Farm Scale Evaluations have been assessed.
Helen Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) how many residential properties in (a) the UK and (b) Sheffield, Hillsborough were newly connected to mains sewerage in the last 12 months for which figures are available; and how many residential properties in the constituency of Sheffield, Hillsborough remain unconnected; 
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Mr. Meacher [holding answer 18 December 2001]: The information requested is not available. We do not hold any figures about the type or number of properties connected or not connected to mains sewers. Water UK publish data annually about the UK water industry. They estimate that 6 per cent. of the population in the UK are not connected to mains sewerage. They do not have data for 1980 or 1990.
Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what action she intends to take on the research report, "Water-based Sport and Recreation: The Facts" commissioned by her Department; and if she will make a statement. 
Alun Michael: Officials will be meeting the other sponsors of the research (British Waterways, the Countryside Agency, the Countryside Council for Wales, the Environment Agency and Sport England) shortly, along with other interested Government Departments to consider what action we need to take in the light of the reports findings.
Alun Michael: Village halls are funded in a variety of ways, most of the sources of finance being very local in nature. DEFRA has inherited a small funding stream for aid to village halls, while currently there are no plans to alter the way in which the Department assists the funding of village halls through the Countryside Agency.
We are supporting local communities and parish and town councils in a variety of ways which complement the work of village halls. Currently, the Village Halls Loan Fund is administered by Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE) on behalf of the Countryside Agency and can provide loans towards capital improvements such as maintenance, extensions or rebuilding costs. The total loan fund value is £700,000 and £244,000 has been loaned out to date this year.
In addition, the Countryside Agency can offer help through the Community Service Grants Scheme delivered through the Vital Villages Programme. It can help fund an alteration/extension of a village hall or other community building where it provides a new or extended service to the community.
Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measurements are made of the radiation above background level around intermediate and high level nuclear waste storage facilities at Sellafield and Dounreay. 
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routinely by BNFL, the Environment Agency and the Foods Standards Agency 1 . The data are published annually in respective environmental monitoring reports. The measurements cover the marine and terrestrial environments and reflect both present and past operations on site. It is not possible to identify separately monitoring data relating specifically to waste storage facilities from those relating to other operations on site. Assessed doses to those most likely to be exposed to radiation (the critical group) are based on these measurements. These estimated doses reflect total risk from the site, and are within national and international dose limits for members of the public.
Radiation measurements taken within the Sellafield and Dounreay sites, around the waste storage facilities (and other facilities), are carried out by BNFL and UKAES respectively. The results of these measurements are available to Inspectors of the Health and Safety Executive. Both of these operators have a duty to ensure that the radiation doses arising from, among other things, their waste storage facilities are below statutory limits and are kept as low as reasonably practicable.
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