Previous Section Index Home Page


Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures she is taking to reduce radioactive waste from the British Nuclear Fuels, Sellafield plant. [49326]

Margaret Beckett: All radioactive discharges from the UK are within national and international dose constraints. The UK has made substantial progress in reducing these discharges over the last 25 years. Discharges now are less than 1 per cent. of what they were then. In making these reductions we have concentrated on the most harmful radionuclides. However, we accept that more needs to be done to deliver further reductions.

At a ministerial meeting of the OSPAR Commission at Sintra, Portugal in 1998, OSPAR members including the UK undertook to reduce radioactive discharges. Contracting parties must produce national plans by 1 July 2002 showing how they are going to achieve these

22 Apr 2002 : Column 16W

reductions. The UK Radioactive Discharges Strategy will demonstrate how we are going to meet the targets for reducing radioactive discharges agreed at Sintra. The UK consulted about its draft strategy in June 2000 and we intend to publish the final version in time to meet the July 2002 deadline. Copies of the strategy will be placed in the House of Commons Library. We have also consulted on draft guidance to the Environment Agency which will help ensure that decisions on discharge authorisations for nuclear licensed sites in England are consistent with the UK strategy.

The Environment Agency has also carried out a public consultation on its review of Sellafield authorisations. The agency will put its recommendations to Ministers later this year. The agency carried out a fast-track review of Technetium-99 discharges ahead of the main Sellafield review. Their recommendations are currently with DEFRA and DoH Ministers for consideration.


Mr. Nigel Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the threat to the rhinoceros population in Zimbabwe from illegal poaching. [48846]

Mr. Meacher: Most rhinoceros species are listed in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). This means that international trade in wild-taken rhinos and their products is prohibited. The UK goes further, however, in that it has banned trade in all raw rhino horn from whatever source.

My officials have contacted the CITES Secretariat who confirm that although there are reports of an increase in poaching in general in Zimbabwe, they do not have any detailed information to support this. While there may be an increased risk of poaching, there is as yet no evidence to indicate that this is leading to a decline in rhino populations. We will keep the situation under review.

Local Agenda 21

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the implementation of Local Agenda 21; what steps her Department is taking to promote its introduction by local authorities; and to what extent agreements on Local Agenda 21 signed at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 have been enacted. [46565]

Mr. Meacher: In June 1997 the Prime Minister set a target for all local authorities in the UK to adopt Local Agenda 21 strategies by the year 2000. A Government Office survey showed that 93 per cent. of local authorities met this target.

The Local Government Act 2000 placed a duty on local authorities to prepare a community strategy for promoting or improving the economic, social and environmental well-being of their area and contributing to the achievement of sustainable development in the United Kingdom. The Government want to see sustainable development become a mainstream issue for local authorities, their partners, and local communities. It believes that the most effective way to achieve this is to subsume Local Agenda 21 strategies within community strategies.

22 Apr 2002 : Column 17W

The Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions have introduced a Best Value Performance Indicator to report on local authorities' progress with community strategies. A survey of English and Welsh Authorities by the Local Government Association in autumn 2001 found that, of the 67 per cent. which responded, 27 per cent. of authorities had developed a strategy. Of those yet to develop a strategy, nearly 80 per cent. said they would have one by March 2002, and the remainder would be published by March 2003.

Packaging Waste

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to her answer of 3 April 2002, Official Report, column 1027W, on packaging waste, when the percentage levels of (a) business packaging waste recovery and (b) business packaging recycling in the United Kingdom in 2001 will be published. [49904]

Mr. Meacher: We aim to publish the figures within the next week.

Lead Shot

Mr. Tynan: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the outcome was of the consultation on the recommendations of the Lead Shot Legislation (England) Review Group; and whether it is her policy that its proposals for changes to legislation should be implemented. [51939]

22 Apr 2002 : Column 18W

Mr. Meacher: The Department has conducted a consultation exercise on the proposals put forward by the Lead Shot Legislation (England) Review Group. Over 1,800 consultation papers were issued. The response rate was low. The report contained proposals for some changes to the site list in Schedule 1 of the Lead Shot Legislation 1999, removing some sites not considered important for waterfowl and adding others which were considered important. It also contained proposals for the removal of Common Snipe and Golden Plover from Schedule 2. No respondents disagreed with the recommendations. The amendments recommended will therefore be implemented by Statutory Instrument under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 in due course.


Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate she has made of the cost to public funds of implementing in full the proposals for moduletron contained in the report of the Policy Commission on Farming and Food. [48562]

Margaret Beckett [holding answer 10 April 2002]: In discussion with stakeholders, others in Government and the devolved administrations, DEFRA is considering the implications of the Policy Commission's proposals on modulation very carefully. The table below provides preliminary estimates, for the three years starting 2003–04, of the costs in England if the rate of modulation were increased as the Policy Commission propose. Any decision on whether to adjust the rate of modulation is subject to the Spending Review.

Modulation rate currently proposed (%)
Government match-funding(1) (£ million)(2)454759
Modulation rate proposed by Policy Commission (%)3.51010
Government match-funding(1) (£ million)(2)45124133
Additional match-funding required if Policy Commission proposals adopted in full (£ million)07774

(1) Assuming 100 per cent. match-funding.

(2) Note that these estimates are based on forecasts of subsidy receipts and are therefore subject to some uncertainty—for example future euro-sterling exchange rates (the rate used here is Euro 1 = £0.62)

Nitrate Vulnerable Zones

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what consultation she undertook, and with whom, prior to determining the methodology for designating nitrate vulnerable zones. [48200]

Margaret Beckett [holding answer 10 April 2002]: Since adopting the Nitrates Directive in 1991, the Government have consulted extensively on all aspects of Nitrate Vulnerable Zone designation:

All farmers potentially affected by each round of proposed designations have been invited to participate, as well as a broad range of stakeholder organisations.

Air Pollutants

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures the Government have put in place to reduce the levels of the air pollutants (a) sulpher dioxide, (b) NOx and (c) PM 1 0 . [48545]

Mr. Meacher: Levels of all three pollutants have reduced significantly in recent years as emissions from industry and road transport have fallen. The National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory shows that emissions of each pollutant fell by the following amounts between 1990 and 1999 (the latest year for which figures are available).

22 Apr 2002 : Column 19W


PollutantEmissions in 1990Emissions in 1999Percentage reduction
Sulphur dioxide3,7541,18768
Oxides of Nitrogen2,7601,60542
Particles (PM 1 0 )30518639

In respect of sulphur dioxide, the most significant emissions reductions in recent years have come about as a result of changes in industrial practices as well as the regulatory controls we have imposed. We estimate, for example, that fuel switching from coal to gas in power stations (which began in 1992–93) has reduced sulphur dioxide emissions by one million tonnes from what it might otherwise have been. We also estimate that the fitting of flue gas desulphurisation to two large coal power stations in 1993–94 has reduced emissions by 0.2 million tonnes; and that the use of lower-sulphur coal has reduced emissions by about 0.15 million tonnes.In respect of particles and oxides of nitrogen, the most significant contribution has come from the reductions in road transport emissions which are largely the result of the progressively tighter European Union standards for new motor vehicles and fuels. The introduction of three way catalysts on petrol vehicles in the early 1990s, for example, is estimated to have reduced emissions of oxides of nitrogen in 1999 by about 30 per cent. compared to what emissions might otherwise have been. Improvements in diesel vehicle technology have also made a significant contribution to reducing emissions of oxides of nitrogen and particles. The UK Government have helped to incentivise the early uptake of clean fuels (such as ultra-low-sulphur diesel and petrol) by setting preferential duty rates for them.

Next Section Index Home Page