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Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs by what means his Department will ensure any outcomes arising from the Axis 1 subsidies meet the required goals; and how those outcomes will be reported. 
Dan Norris: Responsibility for delivery of Axis 1 of the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) lies mainly with the regional development agencies (RDAs). In considering any application for support from the programme, RDAs apply rigorous appraisal processes under which applications are assessed against a range of criteria and the extent to which they meet programme objectives and regional strategic priorities.
As managing authority for the programme, DEFRA retains overall responsibility for oversight of delivery of the programme and the achievement of outcomes. DEFRA maintains regular formal and informal liaison with the RDAs, who report frequently to DEFRA on the delivery of the programme. Regular reports are also made to the RDPE Programme Monitoring Committee, which comprises stakeholder and delivery bodies.
Monitoring and evaluation of the effectiveness with which the Axis 1 objectives are being met is carried out in accordance with procedures that are set out in EU legislation. These monitoring procedures include submission of an annual report by DEFRA. Programme evaluation is undertaken at the mid-point of the programme period
(2007-13) and following the end of the programme period. The programme's mid-term evaluation process will be carried out during 2010. Some RDAs are also undertaking targeted evaluation activity at a regional level to help inform programme delivery.
Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the level of (a) particulate and (b) nitrous oxide emissions in each of the last five years. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: Estimates of the UK emissions for a range of air pollutants are submitted annually to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe's Convention on Long Range Transboundary Air Pollution. The following table shows the emission estimates for fine particles (PM2.5), coarse particles (PM10), nitrous oxide (N2O) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) in each of the last five years for which data are available.
(3) what recent research his Department has (a) commissioned and (b) undertaken on the effect on the organic classification of organic pig and poultry feed of the increase in fishmeal content. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: EU rules for organic production (contained in Council Regulation 834/2007 and Commission Regulation 889/2008) require organic livestock to be fed entirely on organically produced feed. However, until 1 January 2012, they also permit 5 per cent. of the feed for organic pigs and poultry to be composed of conventionally produced materials when sufficient organic feed cannot be obtained. This concession currently allows for difficulties with sourcing protein ingredients for organic pig and poultry feed to be accommodated. DEFRA's Advisory Committee on Organic Standards is investigating the role that fishmeal can play, as a protein source for organic pig and poultry feed, when the requirement for these animals to be given 100 per cent. organic feed begins on 1 January 2012.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs by what means his Department's health and welfare strategy indicators will be reported on (a) where the species of animal concerned is not covered by a sector council established under the England Implementation Group (EIG) and (b) following the disbandment of the EIG. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: Arrangements for monitoring the Animal Health and Welfare Strategy are under review following the disbandment of the England Implementation Group. A decision has not yet been made on whether these indicators will continue to be updated in future. The last update of the Animal Health and Welfare Strategy Indicators was in autumn 2008 and is available on the DEFRA website.
Nick Herbert: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when the collection of data for the 2008 UK Biodiversity Action Plan progress report was completed; and when he expects the report to be published. 
Huw Irranca-Davies: Experts were invited to collect and submit information between September and December 2008. This was used to assess the status of Biodiversity Action Plan Priority Species and Habitats. The assessment was published in April 2009, as part of the update to the UK Biodiversity Indicators in Your Pocket. This can be found on the website of the Joint Nature Conservation Committee.
Nick Herbert: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he plans to take to evaluate progress against the 2010 targets for priority species and habitats under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. 
Huw Irranca-Davies: We are considering carefully with our devolved colleagues and statutory advisers the options for assessing progress against the 2010 targets for priority species and habitats under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.
Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans he has to (a) control and (b) reduce emissions of (i) particulates and (ii) nitrous oxide from biomass boilers of less than 20 megawatts. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: Pollution emissions from biomass boilers of less than 20 Megawatts thermal input are regulated under the Clean Air Act 1993, unless they are burning waste material at greater than 400 kW thermal input, or covered by a permit required under the waste incineration directive (2000/76/EC) depending on the nature of the biomass being burnt.
The existing controls for the remaining appliances arise from the Clean Air Act. Local authorities have the power to approve the grit and dust arrestment equipment fitted to appliances over a certain size as set out in
regulation. Within smoke control areas designated by local authorities, only boilers exempt by Parliament can be installed.
Measures are included in the RHI requiring biomass boilers, including boilers less than 20 Megawatt, to meet high standards of emission performance for particles and nitrogen oxides (NOx), though not for nitrous oxide (N2O). The effect of these measures will be to reduce the emission of particles from biomass boilers by at least 60 per cent. for the same quantity of heat delivered, compared to the typical performance of current wood fuelled boilers.
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many staff in his Department have had five or more periods of sickness absence of less than five days in two or more of the last three years. 
Dan Norris: As at 31 December 2009, out of a total of 10,092 staff in DEFRA and its agencies (excluding the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS)), 621 staff have had five or more periods of sickness absence of fewer than five days in two or more of the last three years. This figure has been based on the last three calendar years except for Rural Payments Agency, which has used financial years. CEFAS is implementing a new management information system and its figure is currently unavailable.
DEFRA and its agencies closely monitor sickness absence in line with their sickness absence policies and by benchmarking sick absence rates against Cabinet Office figures for the civil service. Policies and good working practices are in place to reduce frequent short-term sick absences. These include facilitating timely employee access to occupational health advice, medical or wellbeing interventions. Additionally, managers hold return-to-work interviews to discuss employees' reasons for absence, including any work-related issues connected with their absence. Where necessary, action plans will be agreed to improve employees' attendance at work.
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 29 January 2010, Official Report, column 1135W, on "Audit Commission: Internet", if he will place in the Library a copy of the latest data on which local authorities collect residual household waste less than once a week according to records held by (a) his Department and (b) the Waste and Resources Action Programme. 
Dan Norris: Data held by DEFRA and the Waste and Resources Action Programme showing which local authorities in England collected residual household waste less than once a week in 2008-09 have been placed in the Library.
Huw Irranca-Davies: Eel passes will be required wherever eels are present but are prevented from upstream migration; the Environment Agency will undertake an exercise to identify such locations during 2010.
The Environment Agency estimates that approximately 500 schemes (involving between 10-20 eel passes per scheme) will be required. Eel passes generally cost significantly less than those required to enable the migration of salmonids and can be in the order of between £500 to £2,000 per pass. However, where other substantial works are ongoing at the same time, the additional cost of building an eel pass or other easement can be much reduced. A separate assessment of the effect on small-scale hydroelectric schemes of the requirement to provide eel passes has not been made.
Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether his Department plans to amend the Environmental Permitting Regulations; and if he will make a statement. 
Dan Norris: The Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010 are currently before Parliament and are anticipated to come into force on 6 April 2010. These regulations form part of the second phase of environmental permitting, which will amend and expand the current regime.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will have discussions with ministerial colleagues on the public procurement of (a) fish and (b) shellfish to increase the proportions procured from sustainable sources. 
Huw Irranca-Davies: My colleague, the Minister for Farming and the Environment has spoken or written to Ministers with responsibility for procurement to encourage them to procure food that has been sourced sustainably which includes the procurement of fish and shellfish. The latest report on food used in Government Departments shows that eight Departments purchased 100 per cent. of their fish from sustainable sources and for a further Department the figure was 99 per cent. We are also considering the case for introducing a minimum mandatory buying standard for central Government for food and catering, including for the procurement of seafood from sustainable sources.
Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent research his Department has (a) commissioned and (b) undertaken on the effects on aquatic reefs and plants from trawling; and if he will make a statement. 
Huw Irranca-Davies: DEFRA does not currently fund any research aimed specifically at examining the damage caused by trawling on aquatic reefs and plants. Earlier research has however helped to establish the extent to which fishing practices such as trawling had on the wider benthic community.
This early work has enabled us to be better informed about how we might help protect sensitive habitats such as reefs. DEFRA is currently funding a research project in Lyme Bay to examine how the seabed recovers within a Marine Protected Area. No scallop dredging or bottom trawling is allowed and the project aims to monitor the effects of the MPA, including the recovery of benthic communities.
Reefs are one of the habitats listed for which Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) are required to be designated under the EC habitats directive. Between 2004 and 2009 the Joint Nature Conservation Committee carried out a number of surveys in UK offshore waters to identify reef sites suitable for SAC designation. Details of these surveys can be found at:
To date 37 SACs with reef as a qualifying habitat have been designated, with further sites subject to consultation or further analysis of data. By the end of 2012 it is estimated that around 36 per cent. of the UK reef habitat will be protected by European designations.
You will be interested to note that Charting Progress 2, which is due to be published in July 2010, has examined both the state and impact from pressures such as fishing on different components of the marine ecosystem, within the marine environment, to provide an overall assessment of the UK's seas.
Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the number of non-target species accidentally caught as a result of industrial fishing techniques in (a) 2007, (b) 2008 and (c) 2009. 
Huw Irranca-Davies: Industrial fishing is the term applied to fishing activity where the catch is intended for processing into fish meal and oil rather than for human consumption. Industrial fishing uses smaller meshed nets than human consumption fisheries as they are targeting fish which are small even when fully grown and this will inevitably lead to the capture of small, often immature, individuals of other species.
In European waters, industrial fishing is undertaken for blue whiting, Norway pout, sandeel and sprat. The Norway pout and sandeel fisheries are exclusively industrial and are conducted in the North sea and Skagerrak, while the blue whiting fishery is only partly industrial and considerably more geographically widespread.
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