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ENVIRONMENT, FOOD AND RURAL AFFAIRS

Correspondence

Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she will provide a substantive reply to the letters of 6 July and 18 October from the hon. Member for Billericay regarding the dumping of toxic ash at Pitsea Tip. [12677]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 6 November 2001]: My right hon. Friend the Minister for the Environment responded to the letters from the hon. Member on 15 January 2002.

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she will reply to the letter of 9 August from the hon. Member for North Shropshire concerning delays in testing for bovine TB in the Market Drayton area of Shropshire. [12633]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 6 November 2001]: A response to the hon. Member's letter was sent on 15 January 2002. I apologise for the time taken to respond to this letter.

Mrs. Roe: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) when the hon. Member for Broxbourne will receive a reply to her letters of 31 July, 29 August, 26 September, 25 October and 22 November to the Minister for the Environment relating to correspondence from Hertfordshire county council; [18926]

Mr. Morley: The hon. Member's letter of 31 July and subsequent follow up letters have been transferred to the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions as flood damage to highways is their area of responsibility.

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to the answer of 15 January 2002, ref. 26357, if she will make a statement on the reasons for the delay in responding to the letter to the hon. Member for West Chelmsford sent to him via the Foreign Office on 12 June 2001 re Dr. Reza Hussain. [28876]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 21 January 2002]: A response to the hon. Member's constituent's letter of 12 June was sent on 18 January 2002.

Recycling

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of her Department's stationery is recycled. [15361]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 16 November 2001]: The percentage of recycled stationery used by the Department is 48 per cent. for paper based products and 23 per cent. for general stationery products. There is an on-going programme of working with our users and suppliers to replace products with suitable and affordable recycled

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alternatives from sustainable sources. The Department expects to improve significantly its percentages of recycled stationery over the next six months.

Nuclear Reprocessing

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will establish an assessment, in respect of its relevance to environmental protection policy, of the report published on 23 November by the European Parliament's Scientific and Technological Options Assessment Programme on the possible toxic effects from the nuclear reprocessing plants at Sellafield and Cap de la Hague, France. [19873]

Mr. Meacher: This report is a public document which has already been the subject of independent evaluation by experts appointed by the STOA panel. The contents of the report and these evaluations have been noted, as have the doubts about the report's objectivity which have been raised by some members of the European Parliament and two of the three independent assessors. The Environment Agency which advises the Government on the disposal of radioactive waste into the environment, has been provided with a copy of the report.

Combined Heat and Power

Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to place an obligation on suppliers to purchase from CHP units. [22602]

Mr. Meacher: Government have secured powers under the Utilities Act 2000 to introduce an obligation on suppliers to purchase electricity generated by CHP.

The Government hope that other measures to be outlined in the draft CHP strategy currently being finalised for consultation will be sufficient for CHP to compete effectively with other forms of electricity generation. If however it becomes clear that CHP is not able to compete effectively, the Government are prepared to examine the case for introducing a CHP Obligation.

Foot and Mouth

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what her calculation is of the percentage of animal sales made during the foot and mouth disease epidemic that were conducted outside traditional markets on (a) video links, (b) via the internet and (c) by other means; and if she will make a statement on the (i) safety and (ii) cost of these methods. [24388]

Mr. Morley: The closure of livestock markets to prevent the spread of foot and mouth has led producers to develop a number of other means of selling their stock; we do not have information on the number of animals sold in this way. All animal sales are required to meet movement licence conditions, including bio-security requirements.

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what was the total expenditure on (a) compensation, (b) Civil Service costs, (c) decontamination, (d) additional rural aid and (e) payments to vets, slaughterers and valuers arising from the foot and mouth disease epidemic. [26024]

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Mr. Morley: The total estimated expenditure arising out of foot and mouth disease is as follows:






Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when blood tests for foot and mouth disease will be completed; and what the timetable is for blood tests relating to foot and mouth disease. [27622]

Mr. Morley: The blood testing necessary to classify each county in Great Britain as free of foot and mouth disease (FMD) is now complete. Pre-movement blood testing of sheep flocks is also no longer required. Blood testing is still required where a farmer re-stocks with sheep, goats, or camelids following an outbreak. It is expected that most blood testing for re-stocking purposes will be complete by early summer.

Blood samples are sent from the local Animal Health Office by courier to the laboratory to arrive within 24 hours of the sample being taken. The laboratories have a target turn-round time for FMD blood tests of seven days and currently the mean turn-round time is three days. Results from the laboratories are then made available by computer to the local Animal Health Office.

Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what forms of testing are carried out by her Department in relation to foot and mouth disease. [27625]

Mr. Morley: Tests for the detection of foot and mouth disease virus and antibody are performed according to the protocols described in the chapter on foot and mouth disease (FMD) in the OIE Manual of Standards for Diagnostic Tests and Vaccines (2000) which was written by staff at the Institute for Animal Health (IAH), Pirbright. These tests were performed at IAH, Pirbright and five other laboratories on behalf of DEFRA. In addition, one of the antibody detection ELISA tests was improved. This test was validated and the data have been submitted to OIE for their approval as a prescribed test.

Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures her Department is taking to validate (a) alternative and (b) complementary testing procedures where positive foot and mouth disease cases are confirmed. [27623]

Mr. Morley: DEFRA supports a programme of applied research and test development at IAH, Pirbright. A priority is the development of more rapid and reliable diagnostic tests for use in the laboratory and in the field. Another priority is to develop better methods for identifying infection among vaccinated animals so that vaccinated animals could be safely kept alive. All such tests must be properly validated to ensure international acceptance.

Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when the remaining movement restrictions on livestock farms in Worcestershire, imposed as a result of the foot and mouth epidemic will be lifted. [28899]

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Mr. Morley: There are 15 farms in Worcestershire currently under restrictions. It is anticipated that it should be possible to lift all these restrictions by 23 April unless there is any change to the current disease situation.


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