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Incinerators: Pollution

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) whether incinerators are assessed for their effects on public health; what a safe level of dioxins is considered to be; and whether his Department has records of incinerators that exceeded this level in the latest period for which figures are available; [197834]

(2) what regulations govern emissions from the incineration of waste in (a) hospital, (b) crematoria and (c) waste incinerators. [197849]

Joan Ruddock: Waste incineration plants, including those in hospitals, are subject to the Pollution Prevention and Control Regulations (the “PPC Regulations”) which were superseded from 6 April 2008 by the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2007. These regulations require each incinerator to have a permit to operate which is issued by the regulator only after detailed consideration of the environmental and health impacts of the operation. Each permit contains operating conditions which incorporate the requirements of the waste incineration directive (the WID), among which is a maximum emission limit to air for dioxins of 0.1 ng/m(3) expressed as International Toxic Equivalents (ITEQ). This limit is considered to provide adequate protection to the human health and environment.

Waste incinerators are responsible for a small proportion only of emissions of a range of pollutants. An independent, peer reviewed, study published in 2004, 'Review of the Environmental and Health Effects of Waste Management', concluded that based on the evidence from studies so far:

Of the 65 incinerators regulated by the Environment Agency, five were reported to have breached the 0.1
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ng/m(3) emission limit during 2007. In four of these cases a formal warning was issued by the Environment Agency. In the last case the Environment Agency is considering what enforcement action is required.

Crematoria are not waste incineration plants and so are not regulated in that way, although they are subject to controls upon emissions to air under other parts of the EPR regulations.

Livestock: Disease Control

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans he has to engage with small livestock keepers, including hobby farmers, on disease control strategies. [198103]

Jonathan Shaw: Livestock keepers are encouraged to take responsibility for developing their own contingency plans should they be affected by a disease outbreak. Guidance for livestock keepers, as well as our disease control strategies are publicly available on our website and information is available via the DEFRA Helpline.

Small holders and hobby farmers are a target audience in DEFRA's ‘Give Disease the Boot’ marketing campaign, which is designed to increase awareness of animal diseases and the actions that livestock keepers need to take to help reduce the incidence and spread of disease. In addition, through active engagement with partners in industry we disseminate messages to the members they represent.

Milk: Quotas

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress has been made in his Department's discussions with the European Commission on the abolition of milk quotas. [198115]

Jonathan Shaw: Milk quotas will be abolished in 2015. Discussions with the European Commission about how best to ensure the “soft-landing” for the dairy sector ahead of the abolition of milk quotas are ongoing. We expect the Commission to publish their draft proposals at the end of May.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans he has to encourage greater milk production in the UK in order to fulfil new quota allocations. [198116]

Jonathan Shaw: Milk quotas are a limit on production; a ceiling not a target. The Government have been pressing for their removal for some time as they encourage producers to produce to a quota rather than to meet market demand. In addition, they are an unnecessary cost and regulatory burden. We look forward to their abolition in 2015. Consequently, we have no plans to encourage greater milk production to fulfil the new quota ceilings. we believe producers should produce for the market.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of milk consumed in England was produced in England in the last 12 months; and whether he plans to increase levels of self-sufficiency. [198117]


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Jonathan Shaw: The UK is largely self-sufficient in milk. Over 95 per cent. of the milk consumed in the UK is produced in the UK. Organic milk has occasionally been imported when demand outstripped supply and it made economic sense for companies to do so. In addition, a small amount of UHT milk is imported from abroad. We have no plans to increase levels of self-sufficiency.

Nature Conservation: Wildlife

Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) how many priority species have been (a) added and (b) removed from the UK Biodiversity Action Plan list in each year since the list was first issued; [198263]

(2) what criteria were used in determining priority species to be added to the UK Biodiversity Action Plan list; [198264]

(3) how often the UK Biodiversity Action Plan list of priority species is reviewed. [198265]

Joan Ruddock: In 1995, the original UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP) included a total of 427 priority species. In 1997-98, 20 of these species were removed and a further 169 were added, giving a total of 576. This was increased to 577 in 2005, due to recognition of two distinct sub-species of pipistrelle bat. On 28 August 2007, I announced a new UK list of priority species and habitats which contained 1,149 species. Of the former UK BAP species, 123 were removed while 695 species were added, partially because of new declines but primarily because our knowledge and understanding had increased. This was the first full review of the UK BAP list. The review criteria were:

Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much has been allocated to UK Biodiversity Action Plan priority species in each year since the action plan list was first issued. [198266]

Joan Ruddock: This information is not available and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. However, in 2007 consultants estimated a total UK Biodiversity Action Plan related expenditure of £388 million, of which £318 million related to Habitat Action Plans and £70 million to Species Action Plans. Many widespread species require the delivery of habitat management at the landscape scale, so in practice much of the spend on Habitat Action Plans also benefits species.

Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what actions accompany the designation of a priority species under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. [198277]

Joan Ruddock: The UK list of priority species provides a focus for conservation action over the next decade and will be used to inform statutory lists under
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legislation in each of the countries of the UK. The list has been published with an indication of the most important types of action necessary for the conservation of each species. The UK Biodiversity Partnership is adopting the ecosystem approach and, in addition to legal protection and management for single species and sites, these actions include habitat expansion and restoration, wider action on cross-cutting issues such as climate change, and research. Biodiversity conservation is a devolved matter, and implementation is being taken forward under biodiversity and environment strategies in each of the four countries of the UK.

Nature Reserves: West Sussex

Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment has been made of the effect of the Environment Agency's Managed Realignment proposals on the recently acquired RSPB Nature Reserve behind the Medmerry frontage. [200022]

Joan Ruddock: The Environment Agency is currently developing the Pagham to East Head Coastal Defence Strategy.

A strategic environmental assessment of the options is currently being completed and will be published with the draft and made available for public consultation. This will assess the impacts of many options, including managed realignment on the RSPB Nature Reserve and neighbouring land.

The Environment Agency will continue to discuss these potential options with the RSPB and other landowners in developing the strategy.

Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment has been made of the effect of the Managed Retreat losses under options (a) one and (b) two of the Environment Agency's proposals (i) in the Chichester Harbour area and (ii) at Selsey. [200023]

Joan Ruddock: The Environment Agency has not yet published any proposals as part of the Pagham to East Head Coastal Defence Strategy. The strategy is currently being drafted. It will make an assessment of the impacts of all options, including any losses as a result of managed realignment, in accordance with DEFRA guidance.

Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether he plans to relocate the lost grazing marsh in Medmerry. [200025]

Joan Ruddock: There are currently no plans to relocate any habitat as the Environment Agency has not yet concluded its investigations as part of the Pagham to East Head Coastal Defence Strategy.

The grazing marsh behind the Medmerry sea defences forms part of the Bracklesham Bay Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). The Environment Agency is working closely with Natural England and others to develop a Regional Habitat Creation Programme which
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will consider how best to offset potential habitat losses across the south east, such as that which could occur at Medmerry.

Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether Selsey’s £1 billion asset value was taken into consideration when calculating the Cost Benefit Analysis on the frontage at Medmerry. [200057]

Mr. Woolas: The Environment Agency is currently drafting a Pagham to East Head Coastal Defence Strategy. The cost benefit analysis for the Medmerry frontage does take into account the full asset value for Selsey and has been calculated in accordance with DEFRA guidelines.

Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the area of grazing marsh that will be lost to the sea under options (a) 1 and (b) 2 of the Environment Agency's Managed Retreat proposals. [200159]

Mr. Woolas: The Environment Agency has not yet published any proposals as part of the Pagham to East Head Coastal Defence Strategy. Options one and two were indicative outlines highlighted within the initial consultation document, which was published in November 2006.

The draft strategy is currently being prepared and a number of different options are being investigated, including realignment. The potential impacts of these options on the coastal hinterland, including the area of grazing marsh, will be fully assessed in the strategy.

Oilseed Rape: Genetically Modified Organisms

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on which sites genetically modified oil seed rape has been grown for trial purposes; which of these sites has subsequently been cultivated with conventional and organic oil seed rape crops; and in which years such conventional and organic crops were cultivated in each case. [199514]

Mr. Woolas: DEFRA’s website gives information on the sites for which consent was given to undertake trials of GM oilseed rape as part of the 1999-2003 farm-scale evaluations of herbicide tolerant GM crops.

It has been a general rule that a site used for GM oilseed rape trials would not subsequently be used to grow non-GM rape for a period of at least two years. Beyond that we do not have details of the subsequent cropping history of former GM sites.

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research his Department is carrying out into genetically modified oil seed rape volunteer plants at sites previously used for trials. [199515]

Mr. Woolas: We have funded two research projects that are relevant to this issue. One is on the occurrence of GM oilseed rape volunteers at sites used for the Farm Scale Evaluation trials. The other is on the prediction, sampling and management of GM volunteer impurities
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in conventional oilseed rape crops, where the latter are grown on land previously sown with a GM variety. Both of these projects have been completed and reports on them will be published as soon as possible.

Organic Food

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what support is available from his Department for farmers who wish to switch to organic food production. [198719]

Jonathan Shaw: We want to encourage the expansion of organic food production and have just re-launched the Organic Conversion Information Service (OCIS), which provides free organic conversion advice to help farmers and land managers in England consider the practical implications of converting their businesses to organic production.

Financial support is available for organic farmers under the organic entry level stewardship (OELS) section of the environmental stewardship scheme. Aid under the OELS is worth £60 per hectare per year in recognition of the inherent environmental benefits delivered through farming organically. Top-up payments for the conversion of improved land and top fruit orchards are also available under OELS.

Both OCIS and OELS are managed by Natural England on behalf of DEFRA. There are equivalent arrangements in other UK territories.

More details are available on the DEFRA and the Natural England websites.

Pigs

Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many pig farmers there are in England; and how many there were in May 2005. [198514]

Jonathan Shaw: Data on the number of pig farmers and registered holdings in England which specialise in pig production are collected via the annual June Agricultural Survey. The following figures relate to the position on these holdings at June in each year.

Figures shown are for holdings where pigs are the predominant activity.

Number
2005 2007

Total farmers, partners, directors including spouses if working on the holding

3,349

3,418

Total labour force (including the above)

5,296

5,286

Total holdings where pigs are the predominant activity

2,409

2,453

Source: June Agricultural Survey

Plastic Bags

Mr. Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has had with the (a) Office of Fair Trading and (b) Competition Commission on co-operation between supermarkets to reduce consumption of single-use plastic bags. [197637]


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Joan Ruddock: My right hon. Friend has had no such discussions.


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