§ Mr. Tom King
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether, in view of the expansion of the cereals acreage, he is investigating alternative methods of straw disposal, other than burning; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Anthony Stodart
I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for Sudbury and Woodbridge (Mr. Stainton) on 21st December 1972.—[Vol. 848, c.459–60.] Since then this matter has been referred to the Advisory Council for Agriculture and Horticulture in England and Wales for its consideration. The council will be greatly assisted in its work by a report of a working party set up by the NFU which included representatives of my Department, the Agricultural Research Council, the Countryside Commission and the Nature Conservancy. We are hoping to receive a report from the council later this summer.
In the meantime the council's advice is that a good deal of straw from the 1973 harvest will have to be burned. In order to minimise the adverse effects of burning on the environment it is essential that straw should be properly burned and that all due precautions should be taken. The National Farmers Union has drawn up a straw-burning code for the 1973 harvest for which it is seeking widespread publicity. The advisory council will be commenting on the details of the code in its report, but in the meantime I would like to commend the common sense principles which it embodies to the careful attention of all cereal growers. My Department through its advisory services will be doing all in its power to supplement the publicity which is being given to the code by the NFU.