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Dr. Whitehead: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for what reasons

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the UK Government did not support the development of mandatory and indicative targets for biofuels in the relevant EU draft directive. [69340]

Mr. Jamieson: I have been asked to reply.

In common with the majority of other European Union member states, the UK Government do not support the European Commission's proposals for mandatory targets applied uniformly to every state, as originally proposed by the European Commission in the Biofuels Directive. In order to maintain the UK's ability to set national policy on the basis of the UK's own domestic circumstances, the Government favour the adoption of flexible, indicative targets; an approach endorsed by the European Scrutiny Committees of both Houses of Parliament.

The Government actively support the use of transport biofuels, in particular through the 20 pence per litre reduction in fuel duty on biodiesel—due to come into effect shortly—and through the further round of the Green Fuels Challenge, offering zero duty for pilots demonstrating innovative technologies for environmentally beneficial fuels.

Pesticides Safety Directorate

Rosemary McKenna: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what targets she has set the Pesticides Safety Directorate for 2002–03. [70677]

Mr. Morley: I have set the Pesticides Safety Directorate the following performance targets for 2003–03.

Quality of service
To complete evaluations and contribute to the EC Review Programme under Council Directive 91/414/EEC, according to the processing times set out in Table 1.
1. To deliver high quality scientific work to underpin the protection of human health and the environment.
2. To provide clear and accessible public information about pesticide issues consistent with sustainable and economic production.
3. To ensure the UK's objectives are reflected in the revised Council Directive 91/414/EEC and to maintain our international reputation as a leading regulatory authority.
1. To implement a Quality system by the end of December 2002 that enables an improvement in quality and efficiency and which takes account of priorities identified in the 2001 Customer Satisfaction Survey.
2. To deliver 3 per cent. efficiency savings through the combination of achieving reductions to processing times for applications for approval and through savings in cost of outputs.
Financial performance
1. To recover from industry and Government the full economic cost (as calculated according to resource accounting principles) of its services.

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Table 1 Approvals group: predicted workflow and target processing times for 2002–03

Estimated workflowTarget processing time (weeks)
Application type2002–032002–032001–02
UK Reviews
Anticholinesterase programme5
Other activity3
EC Reviews Rapporteur (2nd stage)
New active substances
Associated fast-normals253035
Assessed experimental approval22020
Extrapolated experimental approval21010
Emergency off label15910
Non-emergency off label302530
Mutual recognition32020
Parallel imports50910
Administrative fast70044
Administrative experimental10011
Simplified own-use parallel1022


Overall target—90 per cent. of applications with a stated processing time must be completed within that time.

Centre for Environment, Fisheries and

Aquaculture Science

Mr. Bryant: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she will publish the 2001–02 Annual Report for the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science. [70676]

Mr. Meacher: The 2001–02 Annual Report and Accounts for the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science were laid before Parliament today. Copies are available in the Library of the House.

Mr. Bryant: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what targets she has set the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science for 2002–03. [70674]

Mr. Meacher: I have set the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science the following performance targets for 2002–03.

Quality of Service
To make satisfactory progress with the action plan resulting from the 1999–2000 Science Audit.
To manage the Agency in an effective manner including pursuit of commercial exploitation of research outputs.

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To give satisfaction to customers in the way that outputs are provided, as measured by the CEFAS Customer Satisfaction Survey.
To achieve savings and efficiency gains in a range of key functions.
Financial Performance
To recover from Government Departments and Agencies and external customers the full economic costs of the Agency's services.

Livestock Diseases

Mr. Michael Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether she has received the report of the Royal Society's Scientific Review of Infectious Diseases in Livestock; and if she will make a statement. [70949]

Margaret Beckett: I am delighted that the Royal Society have today published the report of their independent Scientific Review of Infectious Diseases in Livestock. Copies will be placed in the Library of the House.

This report was commissioned by the Government following the unprecedented outbreak of foot and mouth disease last year. I am very grateful to Professor Sir Brian Follett and his committee for producing such a thorough and excellent report in such a short space of time. This is a very significant contribution to our work to strengthen our ability to guard against and deal with animal disease.

I welcome the importance that the report places on the livestock industry in this country and Great Britain having animal disease free status. We are already taking action on imports and disease surveillance to protect this and the report's views on these matters will be of great assistance.

More widely, we intend to press ahead with an animal health and welfare strategy and will need to consider carefully the recommendations made by the report on research and development in the light of yesterday's spending review announcement.

The report's recommendations will be of crucial importance in developing the Government's emergency preparedness for controlling animal diseases, and we will need to study these closely, in particular the recommended approach to vaccination against foot and mouth disease. The Government has never rejected vaccination as an option in the fight against foot and mouth. The report recognises that there are aspects of vaccination, in particular trade and technical issues, which are not yet resolved, but which can and should be resolved. Even then, vaccination will not necessarily be a panacea and will not necessarily be right in all circumstances. The report notes that, even with emergency vaccination in place, culling would still be necessary.

I welcome the Royal Society's endorsement of the need to take forward the work we have in hand on a greatly improved contingency plan for foot and mouth. Its findings on biosecurity and animal movements will also be of particular importance.

In taking work forward on the report, we will need to involve stakeholders, in particular the farming industry, who have a share in the responsibility for maintaining the animal disease free status recommended by the report.

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I intend to give a fuller initial response on the recommendations in this report when the Lessons Learned Inquiry has reported on Monday 22 July. It is also intended, later in the year, to issue a detailed reply to the recommendations in both these independent reports.

High Hedges

Mr. Pickthall: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what action the Government have taken to ameliorate the problem of (a) leylandii and (b) other rapidly growing trees associated with neighbour nuisance. [69575]

Mr. McNulty: I have been asked to reply.

The Government supported the high hedges Bill introduced last Session by the hon. Member for Solihull (Mr. Taylor). Unfortunately, it fell due to lack of time before the election. Although it has not been possible to bring forward a high hedges Bill in the current Session, we remain committed to legislation allowing local authorities to deal with complaints about high hedges as soon as parliamentary time can be found.

In December last year, we published guidelines on "Hedge height and light loss" developed by the Building Research Establishment (BRE). The guidelines explain how to calculate whether a hedge is likely to block out too much light from a garden and from the main rooms of a house. These scientifically based tests might carry some weight with hedge owners and help them to understand the impact of their hedge. As a result, they might be more willing to negotiate with neighbours.

We are now preparing a leaflet for members of the public, advising them how they might approach their neighbours to try to agree a solution to their hedge problems. The leaflet will include information on a range of factors that people might consider in settling on the right hedge height for their particular circumstances. It will cover such matters as what heights will ensure privacy; those at which a hedge can be safely maintained; and those likely to block light to neighbouring properties.

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We expect to publish the leaflet later in the summer and will provide copies to all Members of Parliament.

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