§ Gregory Barker
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps are being taken by her Department to improve public access to information on(a) air quality and (b) water quality in England and Wales. 
§ Alun Michael
Defra actively publishes and releases information according to the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Its Publication Scheme can be viewed at www.defra.qov.uk/corporate/opengov/accessinfo.htm. The Information Commissioner has approved the scheme. Defra will also release information on request wherever possible.
Policy related air quality information, including the Air Quality Strategy is available on the Defra website (www.defra.qov.uk/environment/airqualitv/). Comprehensive information on past and present air quality and health is published through the Air Quality Information Service on the National Air Quality Information Archive website (www.airqualitv.co.uk), Teletext (page 156) and a freephone helpline (0800 556677). The information is updated hourly. Air Quality is also included in the Government's headline quality of life indicators, which are published annually and announced by means of a press notice. Information is also included in leaflets and reports produced by and on behalf of Defra and the Devolved Administrations.
Defra actively reviews and develops the air quality information it publishes. For example, the Archive was relaunched in May 2002 following improvements to the user friendliness of the pages.
The Environment Agency is the main provider of environmental information in England under the Environmental Information Regulations. The results of the Agency's General Water Quality Assessment scheme are reported annually and are included in the Government's headline quality of life indicators, which are published annually and announced by means of a press notice. The national and regional results are also 582W published on the Agency's website (www.environmentagency.gov.uk) and in fact sheets and reports, as well as on the Defra website (www.defra.co.uk/news/2002/ 0210Q3a.htm), and the Agency answers an estimated 350,000 queries annually, many of which are related to water quality.
As part of the Agency's Freedom of Information Act publication scheme, the water quality grades for each river stretch are included on the Agency's website under 'What's in Your Backyard'. This site is designed to provide easy access for the public to information about their local environment. Water quality sample results are also placed on the agency public registers and available for inspection in every area office.
§ Gregory Barker
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations she has received concerning measures required to improve the quantity and quality of public information on(a) air quality and (b) water quality, broken down by region in England and Wales. 
§ Alun Michael
As a devolved matter, this answer relates to England.
The Department issued a consultation document in January 2001 on the air quality public information bulletin. A summary of the responses to this document are available on http://www.defra.gsi.gov.uk/environment/consult/airpoll/response.htm. The Department is not aware of any other representations concerning access to air quality information in England, which is freely available.