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7 Nov 2002 : Column 702Wcontinued
Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what Energy Efficiency Index targets have been set for the United Kingdom cold sector as part of the market transformation programme; and what role has been played by the Department in (a) setting and (b) meeting the targets. 
Mr. Meacher: The Market Transformation Programme (MTP) does not itself set targets, but operating largely in the public domain, seeks to establish and maintain an informed consensus on the risks, potential and scope for achieving sustainable beneficial market changes over time (e.g. increased volume sales of energy efficient appliances or elimination of inefficient products by specified dates) and, in parallel, on the detailed policy measures and other actions necessary to achieve those changes, taking into account underlying trends, timing and wider issues. In that regard, my Department both sponsors and participates in MTP's open consultations on feasible market transformation targets and it seeks to negotiate integrated programmes of policy measures to meet them. These include, for example, EU directives to label and to set minimum standards for domestic refrigeration, voluntary agreements with industry on improvement targets, public domain product procurement information, the promotional programmes supported by the Energy Saving Trust and the Carbon Trust, including the Energy Efficiency Recommended scheme, the Energy Efficiency Commitment and Enhanced Capital Allowances.
Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what (a) discussions she has had, (b) representations she has received and (c) meetings she has attended in relation to energy efficiency improvements by the cold sector. 
Mr. Meacher: The Department has on-going dialogue with business and other stakeholders on the potential for energy savings in the cold sector and on the practical strategies and policy measures that could help deliver these. In particular, discussions have taken place and representations received from business, enforcement agencies and other EU member states under the aegis of the Energy Efficiency Partnership, the Market Transformation programme, and in response to formal consultations on such matters as EU mandatory energy labelling and voluntary industry agreements. Recently,
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Mr. Salmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she intends to reply to the letter dated 4 March from the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan regarding his constituent, Mr. A. Rogers of Banff. 
Mr. Meacher [holding answer 17 April 2002]: I am sorry that the hon. Member has not yet received a response to his letter. I have asked that this be looked at as a matter or urgency so that I may reply shortly.
Mr. Meacher [holding answer 2 July 2002]: I am sorry that the hon. Member has not yet received a response to his letter. I have asked that this be looked at as a matter of urgency so that I may reply shortly.
David Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she will answer the letters of 11 June and 13 August from the right hon. Member for Penrith and The Borders on behalf of Mrs. J. Kerr of Wigton, Cumbria. 
Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the budget for the Countryside Agency is for 200203; and how it is allocated among the Agency's main projects. 
|Rural Transport Fund||10.11|
|Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund||4.8|
|Local Heritage Initiative||1.68|
|Support for Rights of Way||1.35|
|Walking the Way to Health||1.42|
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Alun Michael: Farmers are being given the opportunity to check and agree the areas digitised. If they are unable to agree with the field size calculated, they will be asked to provide evidence in the form of a suitably qualified surveyors report to support the size that they believe it to be.
Mr. Meacher [holding answer 28 October 2002]: The release and marketing of GMOs in the EU is governed by European Directive 2001/18/EC. In England, Directive 2001/18 is implemented by part VI of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the Genetically Modified Organisms (Deliberate Release) Regulations 2002. The devolved Administrations for Scotland and Wales are responsible for implementing Directive 2001/18 in their respective territories.
The above legislation covers any proposed release of GM fish into the environment for research or commercial purposes, including any proposed release of GM fish in nets, tanks or cages in the sea or in rivers, lakes or streams. Before any such release could go ahead, it would have to be authorised by a consent from the relevant authority. Decisions on whether or not to allow a release would be based on a detailed assessment of any risks that may be posed by the GMO to human health or the environment in each case. It is difficult to envisage any circumstance in which a release of GM fish would be authorised in England.
The Department for International Development is funding research on GM techniques that may accelerate the growth rate and confer sterility in tilapia, a freshwater fish widely farmed in Africa and Asia. This work is being carried out by the University of Southampton in strictly controlled contained tank conditions in accordance with GMO (contained use) legislation. It is designed to provide a better understanding of how poor producers and consumers in developing countries could benefit, and to help these countries to decide for themselves whether they want to use the techniques.
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At the fifth North Sea Conference at Bergen in March 2002, Ministers also agreed to take all possible actions in accordance with the requirements of Directive 2001/18/EC and comparable national legislation, to ensure that the culture of genetically modified marine organisms is confined to secure, self-contained, land-based facilities in order to prevent their release to the marine environment.
Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment her Department has undertaken to ascertain whether halons from fire-extinguishing systems made illegal after 2003 should be (a) destroyed and (b) recycled to critical users. 
Mr. Meacher [holding answer 28 October 2002]: In October 1998, WS Atkins and the Halon Users National Consortium (HUNC) produced a report for the former DETR entitled, XAssessment of the Use of Halon in the United Kingdom". This estimated that about 81 tonnes of Halon 1211 and about 238 tonnes of Halon 1301 would be decommissioned from fire-extinguishing systems by the end of 2004. Assumptions made by the consultants estimated that about 20 per cent. of the Halon 1211 and about 60 per cent. of the Halon 1301 would be recycled. The remainder would be destroyed.
Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many tonnes of Halons remain in service in the United Kingdom, and of this tonnage, how much comprises (a) H1301 and (b) H1211. 
Mr. Meacher [holding answer 28 October 2002]: In 2000, the European Commission produced XA Strategy for the Management and Elimination of the Use of Halons in the European Community". For the UK, it was estimated that 300315 tonnes of Halon 1301 and 162 tonnes of Halon 1211 were installed in fire-extinguishing systems. In addition, it was estimated that 400 tonnes of Halon 1310 and 180 tonnes of Halon 1211 were held in stock.
Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps her Department is taking to ensure atmospherically friendly products are being promoted as a preferable option to fire extinguishing systems which contain HFCs. 
Mr. Meacher [holding answer 28 October 2002]: The Government issued the UK Climate Change Programme in November 2000, and its publication was widely publicised. The programme sets out the key elements of the Government's policy on HFCs to enable industry and users to make investment decisions with more certainty. These elements include that HFCs should only be used where other safe, technically feasible, cost-effective and more environmentally acceptable alternatives do not exist, and that HFCs are not sustainable in the long term. The Government have a voluntary agreement with the UK fire-fighting industry in order to reduce emissions of HFCs and PFCs, which is currently under review.
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Advice on Alternatives and Guidelines for Users of Fire Fighting and Explosion Protection Systems". The guidance suggests a range of alternatives to ozone-depleting halons, including systems using water, carbon dioxide and foams.
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