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Peat Extraction

Caroline Flint: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what action she is taking to protect lowland raised bog habitats at Thorne and Hatfield Moors in South Yorkshire and Wedholme Flow in Cumbria. [39454]

Mr. Meacher: I confirmed this morning that terms have been agreed to cease large-scale commercial peat working at Thorne Moor and Wedholme immediately and to phase it out over the next three years at Hatfield Moor. This has been achieved as a consequence of negotiations between English Nature and the major operator on the sites, Scotts Ltd. Upon satisfactory completion of contract Government will provide £17.3 million to English Nature to buy out existing peat extraction consents and to buy the sites. The arrangements include measures to safeguard employment and to re-deploy effort towards restoration of the sites and the development of peat alternatives.

Organic Farming

Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many organic farms there were in each constituency in each year since 1990. [34872]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 11 February 2002]: We do not hold the information requested. However, statistics showing the growth of organic production in the UK since 1993, by land area and number of holdings and a list of individual producers, processors and importers of organic products are being made available to the Libraries of the House.

Environmental Sustainability

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what steps she proposes to take to improve Britain's ranking on the World Economic Forum's Environmental Sustainability Index; [37272]

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Mr. Meacher [holding answer 26 February 2002]: In its Strategy for sustainable development for the UK, 'A better quality of life' published in 1999, the Government established 15 headline indicators (and a core set of around 135 indicators) to measure progress towards sustainable development by the country as a whole. The first review, 'Achieving a better quality of life', Government annual report 2000, was published in January 2001 and the second annual review will be published shortly. Looked at as a set, the 15 headline indicators can be seen as a "Quality of life barometer".

The Government decided against aggregating indicators along the lines of the World Economic Forum's Environmental Sustainability Index. Such indices may be useful as tools to raise awareness but their choice of components, and the way in which they are weighted together, is largely subjective. A different choice of components, or of weights, would give wholly different results and hence the resulting measures are potentially misleading. This is aptly illustrated by the fact that the World Economic Forum's choice of components last year resulted in the UK being ranked 16th in the world in the same Index, as opposed to 91st this year.

The Government believe that the headline indicators established by the 1999 Strategy present an alternative, more transparent and comprehensive picture than any aggregated measure.

Job Sharing

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many people are employed in her Department on a job share contract; and what percentage of vacant positions was advertised on this basis in the last 12 months. [35359]

Mr. Morley: There are currently 83 people employed in DEFRA on job share contract. Although vacant positions are not generally advertised on such a specific basis, applications are always welcomed from those wishing to work on a part-time or job share basis. It is departmental policy, as an equal opportunity employer, to meet requests for all types of flexible working, including part-time working and job sharing, wherever the nature of the work allows.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to what extent Government Departments have achieved the target of a 1 per cent. per annum reduction in greenhouse gas emissions against the 1990–2000 levels. [36003]

Mr. Meacher: The Government have set the following target: "all departments to contribute towards the Government Estate target of a 1% p.a. on-going reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from buildings". The data for the first year to which the target applies (2000–01) are not yet available, but I will make the data available as soon as possible.

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Combined Heat and Power

Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what is the (a) location and (b) number of CHP units operating on the Government estate, broken down by the different fuel used within these units. [36004]

Mr. Meacher: There are four combined heat and power installations on the Government Civil Estate in England, which are all gas fired. They are located at:

There are also 10 gas fired CHP installations at UK RAF stations.

The Department for Education and Skills building at Moorfoot, Sheffield, is connected to the Sheffield heat and power network which uses the municipal waste incinerator as its source of energy.

Investigations are currently in progress covering the utilisation of CHP technology for a number of other buildings. This could be either by installing CHP units or joining existing heat networks. Progress is partly dependent upon the expiry date for their current energy contracts.

Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what the estimated operational costs are for the Department's quality assessment programme for combined heat and power in financial year 2001–02; [37707]

Mr. Meacher: The costs incurred in setting up and running the combined heat and power quality assurance programme (CHPQA) to 31 March 2001 was around £765,000. The anticipated operational costs of the CHPQA for 2001–02 is around £625,000.

Departmental Staff

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many overseas visits have been undertaken by parliamentary private secretaries in her Department at departmental expense in each of the last four years; and at what cost to public funds. [36812]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 25 February 2002]: Since the creation of DEFRA on 8 June 2001, no overseas visits have been undertaken by parliamentary private secretaries at departmental expense.


Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much Greater London waste has been recycled in each of the last three years. [37114]

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Mr. Meacher: Based on estimates from the Department's Municipal Waste Management Survey, the amounts of municipal waste collected for recycling or composting in Greater London are listed:

YearThousand tonnes


2000–01 data are currently being collected from local authorities.

Information, including the amounts of industrial and commercial waste, for Greater London is published in Strategic Waste Management Assessment 2000: London, Environment Agency. Data are available for one year only and based on estimates from the Environment Agency's National Waste Production Survey.

Industrial and commercial waste 1998

Waste management methodThousand tonnes
Land recovery52,000

Angela Watkinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress has been made in the reduction of London's municipal waste by 3.7 million tonnes by 2020. [37719]

Mr. Meacher: The latest available figures, from the Department's municipal waste management survey, indicate that London produced approximately 4.4 million tonnes of municipal waste in 1999/2000. This figure was approximately 3.8 million tonnes in 1996/97, 4 million tonnes in 1997/98 and 4.1 million tonnes in 1998/99. 2000/01 data are currently being collated from local authorities.

It is of course up to individual waste authorities to promote waste minimisation and to develop minimisation schemes. However, I understand that the Mayor's municipal waste management strategy for London (currently in draft form) recognises this problem of growth in waste and emphasises the importance of reducing the amount of waste London produces.

The Government encourage all waste authorities to reduce the amount of waste produced and waste minimisation is at the top of the waste hierarchy, as set out in the Government's Waste Strategy 2000.

The spending review 2000 provided a ring-fenced grant of £140 million, for two years, for local authority waste management and this funding will be targeted at recycling and minimisation schemes. The Government have consulted on the method for distribution of this fund and responses to the consultation are currently being considered. I will be making an announcement on the final structure of the fund shortly.

The new opportunities fund has also set aside £49.5 million of lottery money for community sector waste minimisation, reuse and recycling programmes in the UK.

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Angela Watkinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what progress has been made towards greater self-sufficiency in dealing with London's waste; [37721]

Mr. Meacher: It is for individual waste authorities to determine how and where their waste is disposed of. At present, much of London's waste is transported outside London for disposal at landfill sites. However, I understand that the Mayor's Municipal Waste Management Strategy (currently in draft form) proposed to address this issue, by looking at the current waste disposal facilities in London, and assessing what new facilities are required, with the aim of greater self-sufficiency for London in relation to waste, and maximised recycling and composting.

Greater self-sufficiency and increased recycling and composting will mean that less waste needs to be transported outside London. Where waste does need to be transported, the Mayor's draft strategy proposes to encourage the use of environmentally friendly modes of transport, such as rail, river and canal.

The Government's Waste Strategy 2000 stressed the importance of waste being dealt with as close to its source as possible. All waste authorities are encouraged to take this 'proximity principle' into account and to reduce transportation of waste, wherever possible, when developing their municipal waste management strategies.

In March 2001 the then DETR issued Guidance on Municipal Waste Management Strategies to all local authorities. This advised that opportunities for using forms of transport other than road haulage be considered by authorities. This guidance also made authorities aware of the Freight Grant schemes, administered by DTLR, which aim to encourage the use of inland waterways and maritime freight, as opposed to road transport.

Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent research her Department has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on the extent to which local recycling initiatives are affected by the expansion of the waste incineration industry. [35395]

Mr. Meacher: The department has not commissioned such research. Local authorities have a responsibility to plan waste treatment and disposal. Waste Strategy 2000 set targets for recycling and composting of household waste in England and Wales, and in March 2001 we introduced statutory performance standards for local authorities in England.

Where a local authority or company proposes a waste incineration facility, our policy is that it should be small enough that it does not act as a disincentive to increased recycling, and should not undermine the achievement of the statutory recycling targets that have been allocated.

Under the guidance we issued in September 2000 for Private Finance Initiative projects, proposals which include incineration must also demonstrate that all opportunities for recycling have been considered first, and that the arrangements proposed will not produce a barrier to the longer term development of recycling.

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