HC Deb 21 October 1982 vol 29 cc492-3
8. Mr. Home Robertson

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many tonnes of straw were burnt during the 1982 harvest in England and Wales; and how many acres were involved.

Mrs. Fenner

This information will not be available until January 1983, when I will be happy to send it to the hon. Member.

Mr. Home Robertson

I shall look forward to receiving that information. Does the Minister accept that all concerned agree that the burning of straw is a deplorably messy, dangerous and wasteful means of disposing of a potentially useful agricultural by-product? What have the Government done to assist the industries concerned to find a constructive use for the by-product?

Mrs. Fenner

For several years my chief scientist's group and ADAS have played a major role in the Oxford straw utilisation conference, attended by farmers, scientists and potential users. My right hon. Friend will be addressing the next conference in November. Research into disposal and utilisation has continued in collaboration with the Paper Industry Research Association, commercial interests and the joint consultative organisation for research and development in agriculture and food.

Mr. Haselhurst

From the information that may have been available to my hon. Friend's Department, can she say whether the number of complaints about straw burning this year has declined compared with last year?

Mrs. Fenner

With the damp weather in 1982, fewer incidents of damage or nuisance were reported than in 1981. A few farmers still disregard the code, but most are well aware of the need to observe it. I wish to take this opportunity to congratulate them on their responsible behaviour.

Forward to