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Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what proposals she has made for inclusion on the agenda of the World Summit on Sustainable Development; and which of these were (a) discussed and (b) recommended for inclusion on the agenda at the meeting of the UN Economic Commission for Europe Meeting in Geneva on 24 and 25 September. 
Mr. Meacher [holding answer 15 November 2001]: The United Kingdom has been working with European Union partners to develop a range of ideas on the agenda for the World Summit on Sustainable Development. In particular, we have pressed for the summit to address poverty eradication, and making globalisation a force for sustainable development particularly to help poorer countries. The UK has argued for specific action on access to fresh water and sanitation, sustainable energy, Africa, and strengthening UN institutions to promote sustainable development. These issues were reflected in the UNECE ministerial declaration.
Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the most cost-effective ways in which (a) industry and commerce and (b) domestic consumers can reduce electricity consumption. 
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Mr. Meacher [holding answer 27 November 2001]: We have carried out a wide range of detailed assessments of the most cost-effective options for saving energy, including reducing electricity consumption in both the business (industry and commerce) and domestic sectors. This includes research, demonstration and case studies of energy efficient practices and technologies. The resultant information is provided to business sectors, the building industry, landlords and local authorities, as well as to individuals, via the Carbon Trust, the Energy Efficiency Best Practice programme www.energy-efficiency.gov.uk and through the Energy Saving Trust's Energy Efficiency Advice Centres www.est.org.uk.
Mr. Pickthall: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many homes have benefited from completed warm front scheme installations; how many homes are in the process of being assessed; how many people have been turned down for upgrading of their heating; what the average wait is between application and installation; what has been the cost thus far to the public purse; and what assessment he has made of the efficiency of the EAGA partnership in delivering the scheme. 
Mr. Meacher [holding answer 9 January 2002]: The Home Energy Efficiency Scheme (HEES), now marketed as The Warm Front Team, is administered by two scheme managers, TXU Warm Front Ltd. (responsible for the Eastern, East Midlands and Yorkshire and the Humber) and Eaga Partnership Ltd. (responsible for the rest of England).
HEES provides households with packages of heating and insulation measures tailored to their circumstances and property type. Where the householder is eligible and the property requires heating; then it is provided. The precise package is discussed and agreed between the householder and HEES surveyor.
Number of homes awaiting assessment: 56,000
Number of homes where insulation-only measures provided or currently being assessed: 285,000
Current average waiting time between application and installation: 71 days 1
Total cost of the scheme (June 2000 to December 2001): £193 million
1 Measured from date of call with respect of telephone applications, from date of receipt in case of postal applications or from date of e-mail. There is usually a period of 18 weeks between the date of actual installation and the receipt of the invoice from installers.
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The introduction of the radically improved Home Energy Efficiency Scheme in June 2000 represented a difficult challenge for both scheme managers. The national shortage of gas heating engineers has led to severe delays in some areas in the installation and repair of central heating systems. Both scheme managers have worked hard to recruit installers and to improve the quality of service provided to householders. The Department continues to maintain a close watch on their performance.
Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what provision there is within the warm front schemes to allow the most vulnerable households who are in immediate danger of risking their health because of lack of heating to queue jump the waiting list for grants during the winter months; how many households were allowed to queue jump in each month since April 2000; and what plans she has to review the first-come, first-served system of Warm Front grants during the present review of the grants. 
Mr. Meacher [holding answer 9 January 2002]: The Government's main programme for tackling fuel poverty in the private sector in England is the Home Energy Efficiency Scheme (HEES). HEES is marketed as the Warm Front Team. Two scheme managers, Eaga Partnership Ltd. and TXU Warm Front Ltd. administer the scheme.
HEES has been developed to help tackle the problem of fuel poverty, those who spend 10 per cent. or more of their income staying warm. Fuel poverty is caused by a combination of energy inefficient housing and low incomes. Certain people are particularly vulnerable to cold-related ill healththe old, families with children, the disabled and the long term sick. HEES is targeted at these priority households and all applicants are therefore treated equally.
We have no intention of removing the current first-come approach. Any prioritising system would be complex to administer and likely to dissuade households from the scheme. Instead, we believe it is better to concentrate resources on reducing the time taken to install measures on all households.
Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will exempt re-usable wood packaging from the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 1997. 
Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the cost of compliance to the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 1997 by the United Kingdom wood packaging industry in terms of the percentage of the industry's average profits in the last year. 
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Mr. Meacher [holding answer 9 January 2002]: The recovery of wood packaging waste has only been required by the Regulations since 1 January 2000. No assessment has been made of the cost of compliance with the Regulations to the wood packaging industry.
Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the impact of the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 1997 on the re-use of products in the United Kingdom wood packaging industry. 
Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate she has made of the number of companies evading the producer responsibility obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 1997; and what plans the Environment Agency has to prevent this. 
Mr. Meacher [holding answer 9 January 2002]: The Regulations place a monitoring duty on the Environment Agency. The agency continues to trace businesses which should be subject to the packaging regulations and they have the powers to monitor businesses which they believe should be subject to the regulations. It is impossible to estimate the number of businesses that might still be evading their producer responsibility obligations. However, comparison of the data derived from obligated businesses with estimates derived from materials organisations and making allowance for businesses outside the scope of the regulations because they do not satisfy turnover and packaging tonnage threshold limits, the amount of packaging not accounted for is probably less than 2 per cent. of the total. The Environment Agency's compliance plan for 200102 has provision to check on more than 2,000 businesses and the agency is on schedule to fulfil that commitment. The number of registrations under the regulations (which includes individual businesses and groups of companies) has continued to rise, from 5,451 at the end of 2000 to 5,629 now.
Agency enforcement is steadily improving. There were 38 prosecutions in 2001 (a total of 72 since the start of the agency's enforcement programme in 1998). Fines are on average higher, with fines totalling £152,350 (average £4,000) in 2001, compared to only £63,878 (average £2,060) in 2000 in 31 cases. The highest fine last year reached £25,000. As fines increase, so does their deterrent effect.
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