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Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list the policy initiatives her Department, or its predecessor Departments have made since 1997 which affect parish and town councils. 
Alun Michael: The Government set out a number of policy initiatives to support parish and town councils in the Rural White Paper, published in November 2000. The main measures to help parish and town councils develop a new role and give communities the opportunity to shape their future have now been put in place. These are:
the £15 million (over three years) Parish Transport Grants scheme for small scale projects to meet local needs;
£5 million (over three years) to help up to 1,000 parishes draw up their own town or village plans to set out local needs and aspirations.
the national training and support strategy for parish and town councils published by the Countryside Agency and the National Association of Local Councils, to which we have allocated £2 million;
detailed proposals for putting the quality parish and town councils concept into practice, set out in a consultation paper published in November.
In addition, the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions continues to take the lead on a number of policy areas and initiatives inherited from the former Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, which directly affect parish and town councils. These include:
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the inclusion of parish and town councils with annual budgeted income of over £500,000 (in the years 199798 to 19992000) within the Best Value regime:
a Statutory Instrument passed to increase the threshold above which a parish or town council is required to prepare income and expenditure accounts from £5,000 to £50,000; and
parish councils are also included within the new ethical frameworkthe main elements of which are now in place. This framework includes a code of conduct which all parish councillors must sign up to and a new independent body, the Standards Board, which will investigate breaches of this code.
Margaret Beckett: Waste composting activities, including the emissions of bioaerosols from waste composting schemes, are regulated by the controls contained in Part II of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the Waste Management Licensing Regulations 1994. Waste composting activities must be licensed with the Environment Agency or operate under a registered exemption, and must be carried out in a way which does not harm the environment or human health. Under the 1990 Act, the Environment Agency are required to monitor waste sites, and carry out periodic inspections of waste composting schemes.
Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the role of waste composting schemes in meeting the Government's target for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. 
Margaret Beckett: The Government have set out their policies for meeting their greenhouse gas reduction targets in the UK Climate Change Programme, copies of which are available in House Libraries. Waste disposalprincipally landfillis the second largest source of methane in the UK.
The EU landfill directive requires a progressive reduction in the amount of biodegradable municipal waste going to landfill. The Government and the National Assembly have set challenging targets in "Waste Strategy 2000" to recycle or compost at least 25 per cent. of household waste by 2005, rising to 33 per cent. by 2015. These measurestogether with energy recovery schemes at landfill sitesare projected to reduce methane emissions from the waste disposal sector to 65 per cent. below 1990 levels by 2010.
Margaret Beckett: Waste composting schemes are not referred to specifically in the list of projects subject to environmental impact assessment, as set out in Directive 85/337/EEC as amended, but could be subject to EIA as part of a wider project. The position in relation to the EIA regulations would depend on the circumstances in
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each case and would be considered by local planning authorities where projects were subject to the planning legislation.
Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what studies have been undertaken by the Environment Agency into the dispersion and dispersion mechanisms of bioaerosols arising from the composting of waste; and if she will make a statement; 
(3) if she will list her targets for the composting of waste for (a) 2002 and (b) each of the next five years. 
Margaret Beckett: The Government's waste strategy sets national targets to recycle or compost at least 25 per cent. of household waste by 2005, at least 30 per cent. by 2010 and at least 33 per cent. by 2015. Annual composting targets have not been set for 2002 or the following five years, but statutory performance standards for household waste recycling and composting have been set for each local authority under the Best Value process for 200304 and 200506. The achievement of these will deliver the first of the national targets in 2005.
Margaret Beckett: The Government's policy for reducing methane emissions are set out in the UK's Climate Change Programme, copies of which are in the House Libraries. A range of policies has been introduced which is leading to reductions in methane emissions. A key policy is the increased collection of landfill gas for use as energy, an important aspect of the Waste Strategy and the EU landfill directive. Emissions are also falling from other sources including the agricultural sector, coal mines and the natural gas distribution network. Methane emissions are currently projected to fall by about 45 per cent. below 1990 levels in 2010.
Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage reduction target from the 1990 baseline she has set for each of the greenhouse gases. 
Margaret Beckett: Under the Kyoto Protocol, the UK has a target to reduce emissions of a basket of six greenhouse gases by 12.5 per cent. below 1990 levels by 200812. The six gases are carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride. The Government have an additional domestic goal to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions by 20 per cent. below 1990 levels by 2010. Further targets have not been set for the other greenhouse gases. The UK's climate change programme, published in November 2000, sets out a range of policies and measures that we estimate could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 23 per cent. by 2010.
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Margaret Beckett: The Continuing Survey of Roads Goods Transport recorded that UK registered HGVs transported food, animal feed and drink (totalling 354 million tonnes) a total distance of 4,437 million kilometres within the UK at an average length of haul of 128 kilometres. Such vehicles account for around 95 per cent. of all freight moved by road. This includes the domestic part of any trips that start or end in a foreign country, and excludes food, feed and drink transported by foreign-registered HGVs. In terms of freight movement (ie weight of goods multiplied by distance travelled) this represents 45 billion tonne-kilometres.
There are no official statistics available on the distance travelled by imported food, feed and drink up to the point of entry into the UK. However an academic study 1 carried out in 1996 estimated that UK imports of food products and animal feed involved transportation by sea, air and road of around 83 billion tonne-kilometres.
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