HC Deb 08 July 2002 vol 388 cc685-6W
Mr. Burnett

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much public money has been spent on the Holsworthy Biogas project; what steps her Department took to ensure that all licensing requirements were in place before public money was spent; what steps her Department took to vet the business plan for this project and when the steps were taken; what assessment she has made of the(a) viability of the business plan and (b) profitability of the project; and if she will make a statement. [61770]

Mr. Meacher

[holding answer 17 June 2002]£1,870,315 of UK public expenditure and £1,924,985 of European funding has been committed to this project, the total project costs for which are £7,700,000. To date, some £1,515,014 of UK public expenditure has been made. The Department routinely assessed all applications for funding under the Objective 5b programme. Such assessment included consideration of the business plan, the environmental impact and the profitability of the project. At the time of assessment and approval of the Holsworthy Biogas project, it was not recognised that restrictions on disposal of waste food would prevent the plant being licensed. However, following the recent risk assessment commissioned by the Government we are reviewing the Animal By-Products legislation with a view to permitting the treatment of catering waste in composting and biogas processes.