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Mr. Jack: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if she will make a statement on the help given by her Department to each type of biofuels energy in order to encourage the development of this part of the energy sector. [160299]

Margaret Beckett: A range of support is available to farmers to grow energy crops. Funding has been provided for open days, conferences, a biofuels leaflet, R&D and reports to support the development of bio-energy. DEFRA works closely with other Government Departments on the development of policy.

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Climate Change

Mr. Lazarowicz: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps she is taking to promote international agreement on measures to respond to climate change. [160297]

Mr. Morley: The Government takes every opportunity to promote international action on climate change bilaterally, through the EU and in international fora. Our commitment to the international existing agreements and our Energy White Paper's long-term vision show climate change action and healthy economic growth are compatible.

Dairy Industry

Mr. Edwards: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what representations she has received about problems in the diary sector. [160294]

Alun Michael: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State regularly receives letters from MPs and others on dairy issues. Ministers frequently meet with representatives from all parts of the dairy sector and matters affecting the whole dairy supply chain are regularly discussed at the Forum chaired by my noble Friend Lord Whitty.

Environment Council

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what position she will be taking at this month's EU Environment Council in respect of (a) medium and long-term greenhouse gas reductions and (b) the EU Chemicals Directive. [159798]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 8 March 2004]: The UK successfully pressed for language in the Environment Council Conclusions that established a process under which the EU will develop strategies for further action to tackle climate change post-2012 including medium- and long-term greenhouse gas reduction targets. This will kick-start the process of establishing our position in advance of the international negotiations on future action, which are due to start next year.

Regarding the new EU chemicals strategy (REACH), the Presidency invited the Council to consider its progress report on the work done so far by the ad hoc working group, and in particular the need for further work to be carried out to understand the full impact of the proposed Regulation. There was no substantive debate on the issue. We believe that it is essential that the Environment Council has the opportunity to be fully involved in decisions on REACH and we welcome the formation of the ad hoc working group as a way for both economic and environment ministry expertise to contribute to the discussions. The efforts made by the Presidency to take forward such a complex dossier are to be welcomed.

Environmental Sustainability

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the cost to local authorities of meeting the Government's recycling targets. [159011]

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Mr. Morley: Waste Strategy 2000 sets out the Government's targets on recycling and composting. Appendix C to Annex C provides estimates of the cost of various municipal waste management options from 2000 to 2020. The present value of the additional costs to local authorities of reaching the recycling and composting targets, over and above a 'base case' which assumed current levels (in absolute terms) of recycling, composting and energy recovery, with all other waste going to landfill, were estimated at between £3.4 billion and £7.7 billion over the 20 year period.

GM Crops

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what separation distance would be required to keep the contamination of non-GM crops with GM varieties below a level of 0.1 per cent. for (a) maize, (b) oil-seed rape and (c) sugar beet. [154708]

Mr. Morley: The European Union has agreed a threshold of 0.9 per cent. for labelling adventitious GM presence in non-GM products. We recognise that there are arguments for a lower threshold to apply particularly in relation to organic production, although no conclusion has been reached on this.

The separation distances needed between fields to limit cross-pollination to 0.1 per cent. (on a whole-field basis) were considered in a review produced for Defra in 2000 by the National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB). This suggested the following distances on the basis of fields of an average size of two hectares or more:

No distance was estimated in relation to sugar beet because cross-pollination does not affect the composition of the utilised plant tissues (only vegetative parts of the plant are harvested, rather than seeds or fruits). Moreover, beet crops are normally harvested before they flower and farmers usually control any 'bolting' plants that flower prematurely.

The information in the NIAB report needs to be considered further in the light of data from a Defra-funded research report on gene flow from the GM maize crops in the Farm Scale Evaluation (FSE) trials (available at:–5-138.htm). This study concluded that in the case of a GM and non-GM maize crop growing alongside each other, the rate of individual GM cross-pollination events (per maize kernel) would be below 0.1 per cent. at a distance of 258 metres into the non-GM crop. A parallel report on gene flow from the FSE oilseed rape crops is in preparation and will be published in due course.

Another relevant Defra-funded research project has studied landscape-scale gene flow in oilseed rape crops (report available at: This does not estimate the separation distances needed for specific cross-pollination thresholds, but it notes that relatively small distances will limit cross-pollination between fully-fertile oilseed rape varieties to around 0.1 per cent. or below, and that pollination from one field to the next is

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likely to be less than 0.1 per cent. averaged over the field. At present it is difficult to estimate the separation distances that would be needed for a 0.1 per cent. threshold in relation to oilseed rape varieties that are not fully fertile. Further information that is relevant to this will be provided by the report noted above on gene flow from the FSE oilseed rape crops.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research she commissioned into (a) product liability insurance and (b) co-existence, with regard to the possible introduction of GM crops. [159406]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 5 March 2004]: The issues of co-existence and liability have been explored in a report to the Government by the Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission. We will set out our thinking on this shortly. The Government have not commissioned any specific research on insurance but has funded various projects on co-existence-related topics. These studies are published on our website when finalised.

Household Waste

Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what household recycling levels have been attained in (a) Greater London and (b) each London borough in each year since 1997. [158449]

Mr. Morley: The information requested is contained in Defra's Municipal Waste Management Survey 2001–02, copies of which are in the Library. Table 5B gives the information requested for London for the financial years 1996–97—2001–02. Annex B gives information for individual London local authorities for the financial years 1998–99—2001–02. Information for the years before 1998–99 was not published at the local authority level. The Management Survey can be downloaded from: http://defraweb/environment/statistics/wastats/mwb0102/index.htm. Further data on London's waste can be found at

The household waste recycling and composting rates for 2002–03 can be obtained from the following website:

Sue Doughty: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the progress made on pilot schemes for direct and variable charging for collection and disposal of household waste. [158232]

Mr. Morley: In its response to the Strategy Unit Report Waste Not Want Not, the Government undertook to carry out further work before a decision is taken on whether to enable local authorities to introduce pilot direct and variable charging schemes for collection and disposal of household waste. In co-operation with the Local Government Association and other stakeholders, and drawing on international experience, work is being undertaken to consider the practicalities of operating such schemes and how potential disadvantages could be overcome.

The Government will consider the results of this work during 2004.

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