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Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 25 April 2002


Cleansing Services Group Ltd.

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) when she expects to receive the Environment Agency's third report on the explosion at Cleansing Services Group Ltd., in Sandhurst, Gloucestershire; and if she will make a statement; [26655]

Mr. Meacher [holding answer 11 January 2002]: The joint Environment Agency and HSE investigation surrounding the fire of October 2000 is principally complete. However, the agency is undertaking excavations beneath concreted areas at the site to investigate allegations that hazardous waste was buried below the transfer station in the early 1990s. Excavations at the site commenced in mid March. Given the co-operation of the company, the agency expect to complete the excavations and associated investigations next month. In the light of which we will make a decision on whether or not to hold a public inquiry.

Household Waste Recycling

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans the Government have to increase the UK's recycling of household waste; and what funds the Government plan to make available for this purpose. [34657]

Mr. Meacher: "Waste Strategy 2000" announced challenging targets to increase the amount of municipal waste recycled and composted in England and Wales. These targets are:

To ensure that local authorities contribute to achieving these targets, the Government have set Statutory Performance Standards for recycling and composting for individual authorities. These can be found in the Government's "Guidance on Municipal Waste Management Strategies", published in March 2001. Copies are available in the House of Commons Library and from the DEFRA website: www.defra.gov.uk/environment/ waste/management/guidance/mwms/index.htm

The Government have increased funding for the Environmental Protective and Cultural Services (EPCS) block, which includes waste management, by £1.1 billion over the SR2000 period. There is also a ring-fenced fund

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of £140 million for local authority recycling and £220 million for waste Private Finance Initiative projects over the same period. Councils will also benefit from the £40 million to the Waste and Resources Action Programme to overcome market barriers to reuse and recycling of waste.

Following a recent consultation on the £140 million fund, DEFRA has opted for a selective distribution. At the end of March this year we issued guidelines and formally invited applications from local authorities. These guidelines can be downloaded from the DEFRA website at www.defra.gov.uk/environment/consult/wastefund/ index.htm.


Mr. Salmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the cost was of media advertising in each of the past five parliamentary Sessions including the current session, for her Department in (a) England, (b) Wales and (c) Northern Ireland; and for the last two parliamentary Sessions and the current parliamentary Session, what the media advertising expenditure was per month in (i) England, (ii) Wales and (iii) Northern Ireland. [37402]

Mr. Morley: As DEFRA was created in June 2001 annual retrospective media expenditure analysis by territory location does not exist.

Since the formation of DEFRA our records show a total for centralised media publicity expenditure of £2,589,289. This excludes expenditure relating to foot and mouth disease.

The expenditure analysis set out in the table identifies three territorial areas: England, England and Wales and the United Kingdom.

De-centralised expenditure incurred by non-departmental public bodies, agencies and DEFRA directorates has not been included as obtaining this information could be achieved only at disproportionate cost.

DEFRA centrally funded media publicity expenditure
£ thousand

EnglandEngland and WalesUnited KingdomTotal
June 200133,58537,07821,51292,175
July 200111,98372,67684,659
August 200124,57033,373131,229189,172
September 200162,80144,180126,895233,876
October 200145,34341,630236,786323,759
November 200114,35837,664144,688196,710
December 2001115,69816,01964,664196,381
January 200212,77496,722224,856334,352
February 200233,81237,357238,502309,671
March 200260,896117,229450,404628,529

Rio Earth Summit (Implementation)

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps have been taken by the Government since the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 to (a) set goals on environmental protection and (b) improve eco-efficiency and resource productivity relating to health and the environment issues; and what these (i) goals and (ii) improvements have been. [44346]

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Mr. Meacher: The Government set out its targets for safeguarding people's health and protecting the environment from air pollution in the Air Quality Strategy for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in 1997 and revised in January 2000. It includes health-based standards for eight pollutants of main concern and objectives for their achievement between 2003 and 2008 together with objectives to be met by 2000 for the protection of vegetation and ecosystems. Good progress has been made towards achieving most of the targets as a result of the measures put in place by central Government and local authorities. We are, for example, broadly on track to meet our policy objectives for carbon monoxide, benzene, 1,3 butadiene, lead and sulphur dioxide, but we will need to do more to meet our targets for nitrogen dioxide, particles and ozone. We have met the objectives for vegetation and ecosystems. The strategy is kept under continuous review and last year we consulted on proposals to tighten several of the current objectives and to add a further objective.

The Government have successfully negotiated and adopted various agreements, both with our partners in Europe and internationally, which will reduce emissions of harmful substances to the air. We are committed to meeting all of the mandatory limit values prescribed by EU legislation. To comply with the EC Directive on Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) the UK Government passed the Pollution Prevention and Control (England and Wales) regulations which came into force on 1 August 2000, under the Pollution Prevention and Control Act 1999. Separate arrangements apply the IPPC Directive to Scotland, Northern Ireland and the offshore oil and gas industries.

IPPC applies an integrated environmental approach to the regulation of industrial activities. Emissions to aid, water (including discharge to sewer) and land, plus a range of other environmental effects (including noise, vibration and odour) must be considered together. IPPC aims to conserve energy, prevent emissions and waste production and, where not practicable, reduce them to acceptable levels. IPPC also takes the integrated approach beyond the initial task of permitting, through to the restoration of sites when industrial activities cease.

On resource productivity the Government commissioned a major study headed by the Cabinet Office Performance and Innovation Unit. Its recent report, "Resource Productivity: Making more with less", identifies the scope for significant environmental and business benefits. We are committed to following up the report, which includes recommendations on establishing a long-term strategy with indicative targets, policy to encourage innovation in sustainable technologies, and action to integrate sustainable development objectives with the business of Government procurement.

Abandoned Vehicles

Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures have been introduced since 1997 to combat car dumping and increase removal of deserted vehicles. [46166]

Mr. Meacher: We have supported pilot schemes in the London boroughs of Newham and Lewisham in which the local authority was given DVLA's powers to wheelclamp and remove unlicensed vehicles after 24 hours. The

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London borough of Wandsworth joined the scheme on 23 April. We announced the extension of the scheme nationally on 10 April.

In October 2001 we published a consultation document on measures to remove abandoned and untaxed vehicles from the streets more quickly and, for the longer term, bring forward changes to vehicle registration and licensing procedures to ensure greater accuracy of DVLA's vehicle record.

Regulations to reduce the statutory notice periods after which local authorities can remove abandoned vehicles and the storage periods for unlicensed vehicles were laid before the House on 19 March and came into force on 9 April.

Kent police piloted a "blitz" approach (Operation Cubit) on abandoned vehicles in the Medway area in co-operation with Kent county council, Medway council, DVLA and the Kent Fire Brigade for eight weeks in early 2001 and the Home Office has commissioned a detailed evaluation of the pilot which has been academically assessed and circulated to other stakeholders for comments, including the Kent police and Kent county council. It is hoped that it will be published in the near future.

Since the original pilot, similar operations have taken place and are shown in the table.

Operation Cubit

SwanleyJune 2001
DartfordOctober 2001
GravesendOctober 2001
MaidstoneJanuary 2002
SwaleJanuary 2002
HastingsFebruary 2002
BrightonFebruary 2002
LiverpoolMarch 2002

To date the operations have removed almost 3,000 abandoned unlicensed vehicles from the streets of Kent and Hastings.

The response to the consultation paper is now available at www.roads.dtlr.gov.uk/consult/abandon/response/ index.htm.

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