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Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) for what reasons the consultation period for the 'Meeting the 2008 Directive Targets' regarding the packaging waste regulations was set at six weeks; 
The Government are aware that for businesses with obligations under the packaging regulations to be able to plan ahead, new targets need to be made public as soon as possible before the beginning of a new obligation year on 1 January. We are also aware of the need to make changes to the legislation before the House rises in December if the legal provisions are to be in place by 1 January. Ensuring that this timing is met has been the Government's prime objective this year. In
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addition to consulting on changes to the regulations, the Government are in the process of consolidating the original 1997 regulations with the subsequent amendments. It was clear that if we had consulted for 12 weeks, we would have jeopardised our ability to announce new targets and other changes and make new regulations before the start of the next obligation year. The Government therefore consulted members of the Advisory Committee on Packaging, the industry body which represents packaging industry views to Government. They recognised the problem and agreed that the main objective was to get the changes announced as early as possible and the changes in place. For these reasons, we consulted for six weeks.
The proposals on conditional approval and scrutinising scheme operational plans were put forward because discussions with industry suggested that compliance schemes and large producers may not at present be placing sufficient focus on meeting the 2008 directive targets and on the planning and action that they need to take now in order to do so. The changes put forward were therefore designed to shift the focus onto the 2008 directive targets.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what mechanisms the Government plan to put in place to scrutinise operational plans of compliance schemes and large producers with regard to the new packaging waste regulations. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The Government proposed in the Consultation Paper on Meeting Directive Targets in 2008" published earlier this year, to apply an additional level of resource to the scrutiny of compliance schemes' and large producers' operational plans, over and above that which the agency is currently and will continue to be, required to do.
This proposal was widely supported by those consulted and so the Government have commissioned consultants to build an IT based scrutiny system which, together with a qualitative assessment, will allow the operational plans to be considered in terms of their ability to meet the next packaging directive targets, both individually and in aggregate. The Government believe that the additional scrutiny is necessary to ensure a longer term focus on the actions producers and schemes will have to take to ensure that their compliance allows the UK to meet its directive targets in 2008.
The number of single-use plastic bags in circulation could be significantly reduced through reuse and recycling, so we have asked the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) to investigate the feasibility of a large scale campaign to encourage consumers to use strong, re-usable plastic bags in place of single-use bags. WRAP are currently trialling such a campaign in Bristol and Edinburgh, in association with national retailers, the
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Scottish Executive, the British Retail Consortium and the Scottish Waste Awareness Group. Approximately 35 to 40 retail major outlets in each town are taking part in these trials. Results are expected in January.
Life cycle analysis studies suggest that re-using such bags several times (between four and seven times as a minimum, depending on the study) will produce environmental benefits, when compared to the use of single-trip alternatives such as plastic carrier bags, paper bags and biodegradable bags.
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on what occasions since 1997 Ministers from her Department have (a) authorised parliamentary counsel to assist in preparing amendments to private Members' Bills on behalf of other private Members and (b) authorised officials to instruct parliamentary counsel to prepare amendments which were subsequently passed to private Members. 
|Agency||Expenditure incurred (£000)|
|Related Agencies Rural Development Service||1|
|Government Decontamination Service||7|
|Marine Fisheries Agency||12|
|State Veterinary Service||64|
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for what reasons confidentiality is retained by those who suggest a right of way under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. 
Jim Knight: Applications for rights of way are made under schedule 14 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Within the legislation there is no statutory protection for the confidentiality of applicants, and where a local authority subsequently makes an order, it must make available all the relevant documents for inspection. The release of personal information in relation to an application is determined by a local authority in accordance with its policy on the Data Protection Act.
Dr. Richard Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will take steps to encourage farmers to grow selectively bred sunflowers that produce high oleic oil as a part of their diversification programme. 
Jim Knight: The Department is aware of interest in high oleic oil crops . A very small area (200 hectares) of sunflowers is currently grown in the UK for non-food uses, but due to climatic restrictions, they are not currently suited to wide scale production in the UK. Similar high oleic oil traits, with their potential positive health and industrial oil benefits can be found in oilseed rape cultivars and these may prove to be a more suitable route for UK farmers to access these potential new markets. The National Non-Food Crops Centre (NNFCC) is an authoritative source of information on the use and implementation of non-food crop products and technologies and can provide farmers with advice.
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