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Written Answers

Monday, 8th October 2001.

Foot and Mouth: Relief Funding

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the details of the policy announced by Michael Meacher in the House of Commons on 20 March to match-fund foot and mouth disease relief donations; and whether, and if so when, this policy has been changed to exclude donations from charities or companies.[HL316]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty): There has been no change in the policy announced by my right honourable friend the Minister for Environment (Mr Michael Meacher) on 20 March to match donations from the public to help charities alleviate hardship as a result of foot and mouth disease.

Under the scheme, all donations from members of the public are eligible to be matched so long as they are passed to charitable bodies meeting the terms of the scheme. Donations from charitable trusts under the control of individuals and their families are also eligible. The scheme does not match donations from companies or corporate charities.

The scheme is administered on behalf of the Government by the Countryside Agency and it has been particularly successful. More than £10 million of government funding has been paid out in match funding to charities for the relief of hardship. The scheme has been extended until the end of September and, in addition, the general threshold for the amount that charities will have to collect has been lowered from £25,000 to £10,000 to help direct more funds to smaller charities.

Litter Notices

Lord Hardy of Wath asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many fixed penalty litter notices were issued by each relevant local authority since January 2000.[HL322]

Lord Whitty: Details of the number of fixed penalty litter notices issued in the period 1 April 1999 to 31 March 2000 by each local authority in England and Wales are given in a table entitled "Litter--Fixed Penalty Notice Log for 1999-2000" which is available in the Libraries of both Houses. Figures since 1 April 2000 are not yet available.

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Foot and Mouth: Foreign Veterinarians

Lord Hoyle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In relation to foreign veterinarians who provided assistance during the foot and mouth outbreak, what conditions they were expected to meet in order to be engaged. [HL645]

Lord Whitty: All foreign veterinarians were required to hold a veterinary degree and obtain temporary registration with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. Also required were a good grasp of the English language, good communication skills and a current driving licence valid for use in the UK.

Foot and Mouth: Fountains Abbey

Lord Jopling asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In view of the current concerns about foot and mouth disease in North Yorkshire, whether they will encourage those who take decisions on opening up the countryside to defer opening public access to the deer park at Fountains Abbey via Studley Roger village, while alternative access to Fountains Abbey via the visitor centre remains open; and[HL650]

    To name the authority, as well as the individual or committee concerned, which have taken the decision to re-open the public access to Fountains Abbey through the deer park via Studley Roger village; and whether they will draw to the attention of those authorities, individuals or committees the grave consequences of foot and mouth disease breaking out in the park. [HL651]

Lord Whitty: The revised Veterinary Risk Assessment No. 4 is clear that outside 3 km protection zones (PZs) around infected premises the risk of foot and mouth disease (FMD) being transmitted by walkers and other path users is virtually nil and that public footpaths outside PZs can safely be opened. On that basis, Her Majesty's Government issued guidance on 23 May to local authorities in England encouraging them to re-open footpaths outside PZs as rapidly as possible. The Government have also provided £3.8 million via the Countryside Agency to assist local authorities with the additional costs of re-opening paths, including erecting temporary fencing, employing temporary staff and publicity.

The public footpaths through the deer park to Fountains Abbey are in an infected area, about 10 km (6 miles) from the nearest case of the disease. DEFRA officials considered representations from the National Trust at the end of July but were not convinced that the area was a special case. The power to close and re-open paths rests generally with local authorities; and the paths concerned were re-opened by North Yorkshire County Council on 4 August in line with government

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guidance that it was safe to do so and following agreement from the National Trust that temporary fencing would be erected as an additional precaution to separate deer from possible contact with people using the paths.

Eradicating foot and mouth disease remains a top priority for Her Majesty's Government. However, the damage that closing the countryside has done to tourism and other rural industries cannot be ignored. The Government have therefore adopted a balanced approach, taking the concerns of the farming community into account as well as the needs of the many small rural businesses that depend on visitors to the countryside.

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Mercury Pollution

Lord Colwyn asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they can estimate the average mercury pollution levels in city and rural areas in the United Kingdom; and what are the likely sources of this contamination.[HL668]

Lord Whitty: The following table shows estimated UK emissions of mercury between 1990-99. Data since 1970 on emissions of air pollutants, including mercury, are published annually in the National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory (NAEI), a copy of which can be found at the NAEI website at www.aeat.co.uk/netcen/airqual/index.html.

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Estimated UK Emissions of Mercury to Air 1990-99 (tonnes)

1990199119921993199419951996199719981999
Combustion in energy production and transfer (tonnes)Public power Public power (waste incin.) Petroleum refining plants Other combustion and transport7.50 0.85 0.06 0.037.40 0.86 0.07 0.036.88 1.05 0.07 0.024.72 1.46 0.07 0.014.37 2.35 0.07 0.014.11 0.30 0.07 0.002.55 0.30 0.07 0.001.64 1.38 0.07 0.002.34 0.38 0.07 0.001.57 0.11 0.07 0.00
Combustion in commercial, institutional and residential and agriculture (tonnes)Residential plant Commercial, public and agriculture combined1.05 0.541.16 0.511.00 0.441.15 0.371.01 0.300.75 0.220.77 0.240.66 0.260.60 0.170.63 0.14
Combustion in industry (tonnes)Iron and steel Non-ferrous metals Glass production Other combustion in industry0.33 1.34 0.15 2.160.29 1.39 0.15 2.220.31 1.37 0.14 2.410.31 1.45 0.13 2.300.31 1.36 0.12 2.220.31 1.45 0.11 2.070.31 1.37 0.10 1.830.31 1.46 0.09 1.750.30 1.36 0.08 1.540.30 0.32 0.06 1.28
Production processes (tonnes)Iron and steel Non-ferrous metals Processes in industry (Chloralkali)0.35 0.01 8.100.31 0.01 8.900.32 0.01 7.440.33 0.01 3.300.34 0.01 3.600.35 0.01 4.220.34 0.01 2.400.35 0.01 1.030.31 0.01 1.310.33 0.00 1.50
Waste treatment and disposal (tonnes)Landfill Waste incineration0.59 5.450.56 5.440.52 5.250.48 4.860.45 3.960.41 1.560.41 1.130.41 0.410.40 0.470.40 0.48
Cremation1.311.321.311.361.301.341.341.341.341.34
Total (tonnes)29.8330.6228.5322.3121.7717.2713.1711.1610.698.53

Source:

National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory

NB. It should be noted that European modelling of mercury sources and distribution indicates that over 60 per cent of mercury deposited in the UK originates from sources outside the UK.


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Atmospheric mercury is most commonly found in gaseous form, although it may also be present bound to small particles. Most historical UK monitoring data relate to particulate mercury from a network of rural and urban sites between the late 1970s and early 1990s. These found concentrations in rural sites around 0.5 ng/m 3 , and generally below 1 ng/m 3 in urban sites. Recent measurements of gaseous mercury from a rural site in central southern England found a background concentration around 1.5 ng/m 3 .

Measurements of particulate mercury in the vicinity of 30 industrial processes were also undertaken in 2000. The highest level of particulate mercury was measured close to ICI Chemicals and Polymers, Runcorn (0.64 ng/m 3 ), but measured concentrations were significantly lower than previous measurements made at urban and rural sites.

Measurements of gaseous concentrations were also monitored during 2000 at five locations in the vicinity of industrial processes. At most locations

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concentrations of gaseous mercury over the six-month monitoring period were in the region of 2-3 ng/m 3 . Significantly higher concentrations, around 24 ng/m 3 , were measured at the ICI Chemical and Polymers plc plant. However human inhalation of atmospheric mercury is considered to be insignificant compared to exposure from the ingestion of fish products. This is because mercury in its toxic methylated form, which is thought not to be present in air in significant quantities, tends to bioaccumulate in predatory fish and shellfish. The Food Standards Agency regularly monitors dietary exposures of UK consumers to mercury and has found exposures to be well within World Health Organisation limits. Further information may be found on the Food Standards Agency website at www.foodstandards.gov.uk.

Although measurements of atmospheric mercury have been limited by measurement technology, techniques have improved, and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is reviewing its

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monitoring programmes with a view to increasing their scope in future. As part of this review, DEFRA recently commissioned a report into what is known about mercury, including the best estimates of UK air concentrations. This report, Sources, Sinks and Levels of Atmospheric Mercury in the UK (Lee et al, 2000), can be found on the National Air Quality Archive website at www.aeat.co.uk/netcen/airqual/reports/dera-hg/dera-hgl.pdf.

A monitoring programme to measure mercury levels in urban and rural areas is scheduled to begin in 2002 and will include sites in London (two sites), Glasgow, Leeds and Eskdalemuir.


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