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26 Mar 2004 : Column 1083W—continued

ENVIRONMENT, FOOD AND RURAL AFFAIRS

Coastal Damage Compensation

Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much was (a) allocated to and (b) spent on coastal damage compensation in each of the last five years. [163614]

Mr. Morley: Defra does not allocate funds to be spent on coastal damage compensation. Except in limited circumstances no compensation is payable to those affected by flooding or erosion, including cases where it is decided not to defend a particular area, or to undertake managed realignment. This approach, adopted by successive governments, is justified by current legislation which provides operating authorities with permissive powers to undertake flood and coastal defence works. There is no general obligation to build or maintain defences at all or to a particular standard. Consonant with this approach, the legislation also makes no provision for compensation from public funds to persons whose property or land are affected by erosion or flooding.

Energy Efficiency

Brian White: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what energy targets she plans to introduce for the Government estate to reduce energy consumption per square metre of buildings floor area over the present decade. [161199]

Mr. Morley: The government published on 26 February 2004, the energy section of the Framework for Sustainable Development on the Government Estate. This contained all of the energy targets for the central government estate including the following:



Mrs. Dean: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many grants to aid domestic energy efficiency there were in (a) Staffordshire and (b) the Burton constituency in each of the last three years; and what the total cost of such grants was. [161840]

Mr. Morley: A number of programmes exist to improve the energy efficiency of a household including schemes run by local authorities and work of the Energy Saving Trust. The Department does not collect data on the number of grants awarded and their cost through these schemes.

Under the Warm Front scheme, which is the main Government scheme for tackling fuel poverty and is funded by the Department, between June 2000 and

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December 2003, 3,764 grants were awarded in the Staffordshire area with a total cost of around £2 million. Of these, 1,653 grants were awarded in the Burton area with a cost of £390,000.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many homes in Buckingham have benefited from the Home Energy Efficiency Scheme. [161570]

Mr. Morley: The New Home Energy Efficiency Scheme is now marketed as Warm Front. Between the launch of the scheme in June 2000 and the end of December 2003, 341 households in the Buckingham constituency received assistance from the scheme.

Advisory Committee on Packaging

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the (a) total budget and (b) budget for administration for the Advisory Committee on Packaging was in financial year 2002–03. [162171]

Mr. Morley: The Advisory Committee on Packaging does not have a dedicated budget, but the ACP and its activities are supported by the Defra Waste Management Division's Producer Responsibility Unit.

Agricultural Subsidies

Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what subsidy will be given to farms on the Somerset levels in the financial years (a) before and (b) after the mid-term Common Agricultural Policy reform. [161883]

Alun Michael: The subsidy provided to farmers in the Somerset area for the EAGGF 2003 year (16 October 2002 to 15 October 2003) was £29,753,136.13. This includes any receipts under the following schemes: Arable Area Payments, Beef Special Premium, Sheep Annual Premium, Suckler Cow Premium, Slaughter Premium, Extensification Payment and Hill Farming Allowance. We have made no projections of receipts at a county level in future years.

Asgard Systems

Alistair Burt: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will establish an inquiry into the part played by her Department in the liquidation of Asgard Systems Ltd. of Bedford. [156718]

Alun Michael: I do not consider it appropriate for the Department to hold such an inquiry. Advice was given to Asgard Systems Ltd. primarily by the Environment Agency, which has a well established "Complaints and Commendations Procedure" for any complaints against it.

Badgers/Bovine TB

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures can be taken against obviously diseased badgers observed in areas outside the current Krebs trials areas. [158376]

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Mr. Bradshaw: Badgers are a protected species and the terms of their protection, including the restricted circumstances when action might be taken against them, are set out in the Protection of Badgers Act 1992.

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answers of 26 January 2004, Official Report, column 1W, and 12 February 2004, Official Report, column 156W, on badgers, whether increases in badger population have occurred in areas in which the 1990 badger survey predicted that it was unlikely that further significant increases would occur. [158383]

Mr. Bradshaw: There has been no national survey of badgers since the mid-1990s 1 and therefore, the necessary information to answer this question is not available.


Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what information she has collated on the effectiveness of reactive culling of badgers in TB breakdown areas as a mechanism of control when applied as part of an overall control package. [158384]

Mr. Bradshaw: On the basis of current scientific evidence, reactive culling as carried out in the Randomised Badger Culling Trial is not viable as a policy option. There are circumstances in which localised culling of badgers might be considered in the future, for example in combination with a vaccine or live test for bovine TB, but neither of these is currently available.

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the presence of TB in the badger population presents a risk of infection to other wildlife. [158385]

Mr. Bradshaw: Theoretically, it is possible for badgers to pass TB to other wildlife species, but the low level of incidence of the disease in species such as foxes (which can share sett space with badgers) and small rodents suggests they are not a significant risk.

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the value of (a) percussion guns and (b) snares as a means of controlling badger populations. [158387]

Mr. Bradshaw: The information is as follows:

(a) The use of percussion guns in the Randomised Badger Culling Trial (RBCT) has not been considered; they are a weapon for stunning, not killing, animals.

(b) The use of snares by the Department in the past, and recent work in Ireland, would suggest that a higher trapping efficiency can be achieved than by cage trapping. However, the decision was taken, primarily on welfare grounds, that snares would not be used in the RBCT.

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what advice has been given by her Department to farmers in the Peak

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District when repairing stone walls and stiles regarding contact with badger latrines; and what advice has been given to members of the public. [158390]

Mr. Bradshaw: The Rural Development Service (RDS) of Defra provide grants under the England Rural Development Programme (ERDP) to farmers and land managers in the Peak District National Park to restore drystone walls and construct stiles. These grants are made through the Countryside Stewardship Scheme (CSS) or the Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESAs) scheme.

Technical guidance is provided concerning the choice of materials used and methods of construction. However, CSS and ESA Project Officers do not give advice to landowners, land managers, drystone wall contractors or members of the public over the health implications of contact with badger latrines. Where farms are open under the educational access component of the CSS, biosecurity measures are required including facilities for hand washing. However, this general guidance is not specific to contact with badger latrines.

Any one seeking advice on badgers should contact my Department's National Wildlife Management Team (Tel: 0845 6014523; e-mail: enquiries.southwest @defra.gsi.gov.uk). I am informed that the Team has not received any recent queries regarding badger latrines from farmers or members of the public in the Peak District.

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the latest average cost is of carrying out a full post-mortem examination of a badger carcase to determine its TB status, including the cost of microbiological testing. [158392]

Mr. Bradshaw: The average cost per carcase of the post mortem examination, as used for badgers taken in the randomised culling trial, including both the TB culture costs and the small number of associated histopathological tests, is currently £87.22.

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answers of 6 January, Official Report, column 250W and 20 January 2004, Official Report, column 1186W, on badgers, what assessment she has made of the reliability of the live test for TB in badgers; and what assessment she has made of the risk that translocated badgers released after testing are not free from TB infection. [158412]

Mr. Bradshaw: The indirect ELISA for badgers (known as the live test) was evaluated using blood samples collected from 1982 badgers killed during statutory badger removal operations in 1991 to 1993. The sensitivity of the test was 40.7 per cent. and the specificity 94.3 per cent. The positive predictive value (the percentage of positive test results where the animal was confirmed as infected) of the test was 67.5 per cent. the negative predictive value (the percentage of negative test results where the animal was confirmed as uninfected) 84.6 per cent. A project (development of immunological assays for the detection of Mycobacterium bovis infection in badgers), funded by the Department, is investigating this area. The project is due to end in March 2005 and the final report should be available shortly afterwards.

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Regarding the assessment of the risk that translocated badgers are not free from TB infection, it is current practice to test all candidates for translocation using the live test three times before release. If any test is positive, then that animal and members in its group are not released. A released animal which has had three negative test results has a 2.7 per cent. risk of actually being infected if it comes from a population with a background prevalence of infection of 10 per cent.

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to her consultation document, "Preparing for a new GB strategy on bovine tuberculosis", page 23, figure 3, what the forecast public expenditure for each year from 2004–05 to 2012–13 is, broken down by main cost centres. [157938]

Mr. Bradshaw: Figure 3 on page 23 of the document "Preparing for a new GB strategy on bovine tuberculosis" represents a projection of the costs of current policies. The forecast for GB public expenditure for the next three years is shown in the following table by main cost centres.

Funding for TB surveillance, control and research
£000

2003–04 Forecast2004–05 Allocation2005–06 Allocation
Veterinary Directorate (including Wildlife Unit and Veterinary Laboratories Agency)13,79414,72514,730
State Veterinary Service30,75337,55041,550
Animal Disease Control Division26,21724,95824,958
Science Directorate3,9443,9053,905
Total74,70881,13885,143

Detailed budgets which can be broken down by cost centre are not available beyond the Spending Review 2002 period.

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations she has received on the awarding of grants to farmers to upgrade isolation facilities for bought-in cattle to improve TB controls. [157957]

Mr. Bradshaw: No formal representations have been received regarding grants to upgrade isolation facilities for bought-in cattle.

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what funds are available from European Union sources to assist the financing of TB (a) testing and (b) monitoring schemes. [158371]

Mr. Bradshaw: The EU Veterinary Fund, which aims to ensure financial support to member states for expenditure to help control or eradicate certain diseases, is set down in Council Decision 90/424. The total budget is set annually and allocations to disease control programmes in member states are made according to priorities proposed by the Commission and agreed by member states.

In 2004, Euros135,500,000 is allocated to "animal disease eradication and monitoring programmes and monitoring of the physical conditions of animals that

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could pose a public-health risk linked to an external factor". TB is one of the diseases covered by this part of the fund and Euros6,830,000 is allocated to TB controls.

Council and Commission decisions and regulations can be read online on Eur-lex. http://europa.eu.int/eur-lex/en/index.html.

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) how many additional staff she estimates will be required by local authorities to enforce her proposed Tuberculosis (England) Order 2004 over the first five years of its application; [158372]

Mr. Bradshaw: Consideration of the costs to local government will be considered fully in the final Regulatory Impact Assessment for the proposed new Tuberculosis (England) Order 2004.

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the average time has been between a TB reactor being reported, the carrying out of microbiological confirmation tests and the reporting of results back to farms in areas other than the Krebs areas since the trials began. [158389]

Mr. Bradshaw: The information requested is kept on individual files for each TB breakdown and cannot be provided except at disproportionate cost.

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what she estimates the resource implications are of seeking a full regime of pre- and post-movement testing of cattle from one and two year testing herds to all three and four year receiving herds in terms of (a) additional veterinary hours required, (b) time inputs required by livestock owners and managers and (c) the costs of testing. [158391]

Mr. Bradshaw: None. The proposal as set out in the consultation document 'Preparing for a new GB strategy on bovine TB' is for pre-movement testing of cattle moving from one and two year testing herds to other herds. The resource implications of this proposal will be estimated as part of the consultation process which will involve discussions with veterinary and farming interests.

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what the average cost was to livestock farmers, per head of stock examined, of facilitating the conduct of official TB tests in their herds; [158393]

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Mr. Bradshaw: The cost of TB to farmers in Great Britain is currently being assessed. Defra has commissioned Reading University to carry out research into the economic impacts of TB and alternative control policies in Great Britain. A report is expected shortly and a summary of the findings will be published on the Defra website in due course.

It is for the individual farmer to decide if his or her business is economically sustainable or not.

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what her policy is on the TB testing of badger carcases from road traffic accidents outside TB hotspot areas. [158394]

Mr. Bradshaw: On advice from the Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB (ISG), a limited Road Traffic Accident (RTA) survey is being conducted in seven counties in England (Cornwall, Devon, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Shropshire and Dorset). The objective of the survey is to determine, with the ISG's help, if RTA data can provide an accurate indication of the prevalence of "M. bovis" (the causative organism for bovine TB) in badgers by comparing it with the data from the randomised badger culling trial. The Central Science Laboratory (CSL) has been employed to collect badger carcasses for the project since 1 June 2002.

In addition, Defra is carrying out a survey of badgers killed in road accidents in the Furness peninsula following an unexplained rise in bovine TB incidents in south west Cumbria.

We are awaiting the results of the validation of the survey in the badger culling trial areas before taking any decisions about extending the survey area further. There are also logistical and budgetary problems in extending the RTA survey.

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many applications for section 10 licences under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992, permitting the killing of badgers, have been made by (a) farmers and (b) other private landowners; and how many have been issued to each for the express purpose of preventing the spread of disease, in each year since the Act has been in force. [158395]

Mr. Bradshaw: When members of the public approach my Department with a badger problem, most come seeking our advice on how they can resolve their problem. Only a small number have a clear idea of what action they want to take. Because of this it is not possible to distinguish between applications on the basis of whether the applicant wanted to kill the badgers, relocate them or simply close a problem sett. Thus, we cannot provide figures for the first part of this question.

The number of licences issued to farmers and other private landowners for the express purpose of preventing the spread of disease in each year for which there are computer records, is as follows:

Number
20010
20020
20030

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We are not aware of any licences to kill badgers being issued to farmers or other private landowners prevent the spread of disease between 1992 and 2001.

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent instructions have been given to state veterinary officials regarding the interpretation of the skin test for TB in cattle. [158396]

Mr. Bradshaw: The interpretation of the single intradermal comparative cervical test (skin test) used in GB for the diagnosis of bovine TB is laid down in Annex B of Council Directive 64/432/EEC (as amended). The existing TB manuals for the State Veterinary Service and Local Veterinary Inspectors reflect this. No changes have been made recently to the interpretation of the skin test for TB in cattle.

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of (a) programmes in countries other than the UK which have successfully controlled TB in cattle by controlling the disease in wildlife reservoirs and (b) the application those programmes might have for the UK. [158397]

Mr. Bradshaw: Defra officials remain in contact, and continue to exchange information, with colleagues in other countries that are experiencing problems with the control of TB in cattle where there is a wildlife disease reservoir.

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the most recently calculated rate of repeat TB breakdowns in cattle herds is in (a) England and (b) Scotland. [158414]

Mr. Bradshaw: The most recent information on recurrent (repeat) TB incidents dates back to 2002. This shows that the number of confirmed new TB incidents (CNIs) in herds that had a history of CNI in the previous three years increased by 72 per cent. between 2000 and 2002. This increase was not significantly different from the overall percentage increase in CNIs. In England, approximately 25 per cent. of herds with a CNI in 2002 had a history of CNI in the previous three years. In contrast, none of the 27 Scottish herds affected by CNIs in 2002 had experienced a CNI in the previous three years.

Because of the distorted pattern of TB incidents (breakdowns) caused by the suspension of TB testing during 2001, bovine TB statistics for 2002 may not be representative of a typical year. Similar data on repeat TB breakdowns for2003 has not been collated yet.

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether badgers can acquire TB from infected members of other species on which they predate. [158415]

Mr. Bradshaw: The consumption of infected carcases, prey or otherwise, is a potential route for M. bovis infection in badgers.

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether adverse effects have been observed in cattle subject to continuous 60-day TB testing. [158429]

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Mr. Bradshaw: No adverse effects have been observed in cattle subjected to 60-day (short-interval) tuberculin testing.

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether she has carried out an assessment of the measures necessary to gain public acceptance of large-scale badger culling. [158805]

Mr. Bradshaw: No such assessment has been carried out.

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of whether her containment policy for bovine TB will also contain the spread of M. bovis in badgers. [159121]

Mr. Bradshaw: No such assessment has been made.

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to her answer of 30 January 2004, Official Report, column 538W, on badgers, what the source of her definition of epidemic is. [159130]

Mr. Bradshaw: Definitions of the term 'epidemic' that are consistent with that given in the answer on 30 January 2004, Official Report, column 538W, can be found in standard epidemiological textbooks, such as:



Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether cats resident on farms on which a TB breakdown has occurred are routinely tested for TB infection. [158379]

Mr. Bradshaw: Cats resident on farms on which a TB breakdown has occurred are not routinely tested for TB infection.

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many herds are participating in gamma-interferon testing. [158388]

Mr. Bradshaw: By the end of February 2004, 88 herds had been recruited to the gamma-interferon field trial.

In addition, between 1 January 2003 and 29 February 2004, ad-hoc gamma-interferon tests were approved in 19 herds that did not qualify for the field trial. Formal instructions were issued to the State Veterinary Service in November 2003, which provide for the use of the gamma-interferon test in the following circumstances:






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