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Parrett Catchment Project

28. Mr. Heath: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the Parrett Catchment Project. [29564]

Mr. Morley: I welcome the holistic view taken in this study which has involved creation of an effective local partnership and identified a number of options for future flood management. DEFRA stands ready to help in any way we can within the terms and conditions of the relevant support schemes. Funding has been allocated to the Environment Agency for the development of a Catchment Flood Management Plan (one of five national pilot plans) to determine the most effective approaches to flood risk management for this complex catchment.

Rural Post Offices

29. Mr. Tyler: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the state of sub-post offices in rural areas; and if she will make a statement. [29565]

Alun Michael: The Countryside Agency has investigated the provision of post offices in its triennial surveys of service provision in rural areas. The agency's

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Rural Services Survey 2000 reported a continued decline in post offices. 93.5 per cent. of rural households live within 2 km (1.25 miles) of a post office, between 1997 and 2000 546 rural post offices closed. A range of initiatives have been introduced by Post Office Ltd. to prevent avoidable closures in rural areas, while initiatives from the Countryside Agency include encouraging mutual support between post office and other services to help improve their chances of remaining viable.

Landfill Tax

30. Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what role her Department is playing in the review of the landfill tax credit scheme; and what her objectives are for the review. [29567]

Mr. Meacher: In the pre-Budget report the Government stated that they were attracted to replacing all or part of the LTCS with a public spending programme to direct resources towards Government priorities on sustainable waste management. The Government are soon to consult on the future of the scheme and the Department is one of those helping to develop that consultation paper.

Sellafield

31. Mr. Stunell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on what assessments have been conducted of the potential (a) environmental, (b) economic and (c) social impacts of the manufacture of MOX fuel at Sellafield. [29568]

Margaret Beckett: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health and I announced on 3 October 2001 that we had decided that the manufacture of MOX fuel is "justified" under the terms of the Euratom basic safety standards directive. The decision document which we issued on that day dealt with these and other relevant issues, and referred to earlier work in particular that undertaken by the Environment Agency, PA Consulting and A. D. Little.

A copy of the decision document is in the Library of the House.

Carbon Dioxide Emissions

32. Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what targets she has set for carbon dioxide reduction in the next five years. [29569]

Mr. Meacher: No targets have been set for carbon dioxide reduction over the next five years. Under the Kyoto Protocol, the UK has a target to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 12.5 per cent. below 1990 levels by 2008–12. The Government have an additional domestic goal to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 20 per cent. below 1990 levels by 2010. The UK's climate change programme, published in November 2000, sets out a range of policies and measures that we estimate could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 23 per cent. by 2010. The programme will be monitored and evaluated at regular intervals, including a formal review in 2004–05.

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English Canal System

34. Michael Fabricant: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she will next meet the board of British Waterways to discuss the extension of the English canal system; and if she will make a statement. [29571]

Mr. Morley: I have no plans at present to visit the board of British Waterways to discuss the extension of the canal system, but my noble Friend Lord Whitty has regular meetings with British Waterways. We are aware of a number of proposals in the pipeline and look forward to discussing them with British Waterways at the appropriate time.

Waste Management Strategy

35. Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on progress towards meeting the targets of the Government's Waste Management Strategy (2000) and progress since the waste summit. [29572]

Mr. Meacher: Since launching the national waste strategy in May 2000, the Government have set demanding statutory targets for the recycling and composting of household waste for each local authority, increased the landfill tax and consulted on a system of tradable landfill permits in order to achieve the diversion from landfill required. It has also set up the Waste and Resources Action Programme to help create stable and efficient markets for recycled materials and products, with funding from the Government and the devolved Administrations of around £40 million over three years.

Following the waste summit held on 21 November, which considered what more needs to be done to ensure effective delivery of the strategy, the Performance and Innovation Unit (PIU) have begun their study to review Waste Strategy 2000. The study is assessing what extra instruments, changes to targets or regulations, or additional funding may be required to ensure that the strategy is delivered effectively and that we are able to develop more sustainable waste management.

The PIU will be consulting with key stakeholders through the study. Further details about the study are available on the PIU website at www.cabinet-office.gov.uk/ innovation.

Electronic Livestock Markets

37. Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessments she has made of the effect on animal welfare and transport costs of the use of electronic livestock markets during the foot and mouth epidemic. [29574]

Mr. Morley: We have no information on animals traded as a results of electronic livestock markets but the welfare of such animals and the related transport costs would be the responsibility of the parties involved. Electronic markets do have the potential to reduce animal movements with the benefits of welfare and cost.

Farm Incomes

Vernon Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on farm incomes. [33079]

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Mr. Morley: Revised estimates of farm income, output and productivity of agriculture during 2001 were published on 31 January. These confirm the increase in farm incomes forecast last November and indicate a modest rise of 13 per cent. (11 per cent. in real terms).

This increase is due to improved prices leading to higher values of output for milk, potatoes and horticulture outweighing lower values of output for cereals and livestock. Incomes are forecast to show a further rise in 2002 as the volume of cereal production returns to more normal levels and the industry starts to recover from the effects of FMD.

Details have been placed in the Library of the House.

Bovine TB

Tony Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what additional control measures have been introduced to control the possible spread of bovine TB after the foot and mouth disease outbreak. [33076]

Mr. Morley: I am announcing today the introduction of TB movement restrictions on certain herds with overdue TB tests. The herds affected are those in annual test frequency parishes that have missed the six and 12 month tests carried out after the lifting of movement restrictions put in place after an earlier TB incident. A veterinary risk assessment has shown that these have been historically more at risk of being infected with TB than herds with other types of TB test. The measure is expected to affect up to 1,250 herds mainly in the south and west of England.

In addition we are introducing additional checks on herds that have been reformed after FMD. These herds will be TB tested at 12 and 24 months after the normal TB check test at three months after restocking.

Registration Fees (Merchants and Saddlers)

Tony Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the fees to be paid by merchants and saddlers for registration in 2002–03 with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain under the Medicines (Exemptions for Merchants in Veterinary Drugs) Order 1998 have yet been determined. [33077]

Mr. Morley: Yes. With the consent of the Treasury, the schedule of fees for registration, retention and restoration have been determined. This is given in the table as follows:

Fees
£

Application in respect of each premisesPreviousNew
Agricultural merchants
1. For registration under Article 5224224
2. For retention of registration under Article 5133140
3. For restoration of registration under Article 5190190
Saddlers
1. For registration under Article 5127127
2. For retention of registration under Article 57876
3. For restoration of registration under Article 5107107


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