HC Deb 14 February 2002 vol 380 cc646-9W
Mr. Luff

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the most recent results of the monitoring of the environmental implications of the foot and mouth burial site at Throckmorton airfield. [34484]

Mr. Morley

Monitoring of the site since May 2001 has demonstrated that degradation of carcases is under way. The great majority of the fluids from the degradation (the leachate) is abstracted and taken to a treatment facility for processing (Minworth water reclamation works). To reduce the risk of unacceptable migration of the small remaining amounts of leachate, a low permeability barrier has been constructed within the ground.

Intense monitoring of surface water, ground water, and ground gas is being carried out under the supervision of the Environment Agency. Migration through the ground of the remnant degradation by-products is proceeding at an environmentally acceptable rate. All results are currently within environmentally acceptable limits. The Department will continue to manage, monitor and carry out remedial measures on the site for as long as is necessary, all under the oversight of the Environment Agency.

Hugh Bayley

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much her Department expects to contribute to farmers in North Yorkshire in foot and mouth compensation and clean up payments; and how many farms will receive payments. [34683]

Mr. Morley

The Department expects to pay farmers in North Yorkshire as a result of foot and mouth disease as follows:

  • Compensation for animals slaughtered—£124,460,216
  • Compensation for items seized and destroyed—£2,989,645
  • Cleansing and disinfecting costs paid to farmers—£16,101,929.

Payments are being made in relation to 765 premises in North Yorkshire.

Hugh Bayley

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much the Government expect to contribute in grants to businesses in North Yorkshire other than farms to help them to deal with the consequences of foot and mouth. [34684]

Mr. Morley

The total foot and mouth business recovery fund allocation to North Yorkshire, both from Yorkshire Forward's existing resources and from those made specifically available by the Department, is some £5.5 million. This is all available to small non-agriculture businesses.

Bob Russell

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what the value is of losses notified to her Department caused by the foot and mouth epidemic suffered by non-profit making organisations; [35671]

(2) if she will list all the non-profit making organisations who have contacted her to report financial losses caused by the foot and mouth epidemic. [35672]

Alun Michael

Various not-for-profit organisations have contacted the Department about the impact that foot and mouth disease and the measures taken to control it have had on their operations. These include the Youth Hostels Association (who estimate the impact on their income in 2001 to be £5million), National Trust (£4.5 million), National Federation of Young Farmers Clubs (£0.5 million), the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens (£0.25 million), the Holiday Fellowship, Farm Stay UK, the Wetlands and Wildfowl Trust (£0.6 million), the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers (£0.25 million) and the Field Studies Council. Purely local organisations are not included; and, given the practical difficulty of checking all the correspondence received by the Department and its predecessors, the list may not be comprehensive.

Bob Russell

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many public footpaths and public open spaces are closed due to the foot and mouth epidemic; and if she will make a statement. [35668]

Alun Michael

Well over 99 per cent. of rights of way in England are open again. Remaining closures are where rights of way pass through the farmyards of premises still under veterinary restrictions, until re-stocking procedures are completed. Most of these restrictions will be lifted in the coming few weeks.

A small number of farms are not re-stocking, and will remain under veterinary restrictions into the summer. Any rights of way through those farmyards will remain closed, unless temporary diversions can be put in place. I am urging local authorities to publish clear information on their websites and through helplines and tourist information centres about where these few remaining closures are located.

I am not aware of any public open spaces still closed because of foot and mouth disease.

Bob Russell

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) if the Countryside Agency will be permitted to claim costs of administration from the Countryside Access Recovery Fund; and if she will make a statement; [35673]

(2) what the criteria is for the selection and allocation of money to organisations making claims to the Countryside Access Recovery Fund; and if she will make a statement; [35669]

(3) if non-profit making organisations making claims to the Countryside Access Recovery Fund will have their administration costs paid by her Department; [35674]

(4) if the Countryside Agency has been allocated special funding for the administration of the Countryside Access Recovery Fund; and if she will make a statement. [35670]

Alun Michael

Grants from the Countryside Access Recovery Fund will be disbursed in accordance with the guidelines I published when I announced the fund on 5 February. These are set out as follows:

Guidelines for the Countryside Access Recovery Fund

  1. (1) Grants from the fund will be available to support approved projects developed by not-for-profit organisations concerned with promoting countryside access and/or understanding of the English countryside and will be subject to the criteria set out as follows:
  2. (2) The package of support for an individual organisation or project will vary from case to case. The fund will be used for direct support to expenditure by not-for-profit organisations on: (i) improvements and renovations or provision of new buildings or other infrastructure to help secure, expand or enhance the activity of the organisation related to the promotion of access to or understanding of the countryside; (ii) advice and consultancy to help them adjust and plan their recovery; and (iii) activities to promote access to, and understanding of the countryside.
  3. (3) Before direct support is provided to an individual not-for-profit organisation they must satisfy the Countryside Agency that: (i) the financial position of the organisation has been substantially adversely affected by the incidence of FMD and/or the measures taken to control it; (ii) the organisation has taken all reasonable action to mitigate the impact (including claiming rate relief and tax, VAT and NIC deferral where eligible), and where appropriate has drawn on other sources of support (including contributions from the private sector, appeals to members etc.); (iii) the organisation would be financially viable apart from the effect of FMD, and expects to return to its normal level of income by 31 December 2002.
  4. (4) Grants will normally cover a maximum of 60 per cent. of the project cost. Applications for grants must be received by 30 April 2002 and the grant will be payable on proof of expenditure.
  5. (5) The scheme will be administered by the Countryside Agency. Potential applicants should contact the Countryside Agency (01242 533237) for a preliminary discussion.

Fuller guidance for prospective applicants will be available from the Countryside Agency. If eligible applications exceed available resources, regard will be had to how far applications meet the criteria and how effectively they would promote the objectives of the fund.

Organisations will not have their costs of applying to the fund paid for by the Department, but the overhead costs of projects may be included. My officials are in discussion with the Countryside Agency about the costs they may incur in administering the scheme on DEFRA's behalf.

Adam Price

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the Government are investigating the use of vaccination in response to a future foot and mouth outbreak. [35630]

Mr. Morley

Yes. Vaccination is a disease control option, whose use was investigated and kept under review during the 2001 foot and mouth disease outbreak. Like all other disease control options, we are currently considering its future use as part of the review of our contingency planning.