HC Deb 24 June 2003 vol 407 cc676-7W
Andrew George

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list Non-native fauna identified by her Department as needing to be(a) controlled and (b) eradicated; what estimate she has made of the numbers in each case; and what estimates she has made of the annual cost of (i) control and (ii) eradication in the next three years. [119146]

Mr. Bradshaw

The Department is aware of a number of Non-native species which can impact on native biodiversity but has not compiled a comprehensive list of Non-native fauna proposed to be controlled or eradicated. Issues in relation to individual species are considered on their merits, and control programmes may also be taken forward by the conservation agencies, other government departments, non-governmental organisations and others to address specific impacts. The devolved administrations can also take action in other parts of the UK. Environmental and economic effects of the presence of the species, the relative cost and likely success of control, are all important considerations.

I recognise that the problems caused by invasive Non-native species can be serious. The recent Review of Non-native Species Policy recommended that Government develop a comprehensive system to assess risks from Non-native species, and also policies with respect to management and control of Non-native species present or newly arrived in the wild, and operational capacity to implement these. The Review's report, available in the House Library, also gives indicative control costs for some invasive Non-native species. This is a complex and wide-ranging issue and we will be considering the review's report carefully in developing, in liaison with the Devolved Administrations, the Government's strategy to take this forward. There will be public consultation later this year.

In respect of species and organisms currently identified to be eradicated, action is being taken by Defra's plant health service to eradicate some introduced plant pests, including the potato brown rot bacterium from watercourses in eastern England, Phytophthora ramorum (the pathogen causing sudden death of oak trees in California) from nursery stock, and the insect pests Bemisia tabaci and Liriomyza huidobrensis from outbreaks in glasshouses. Contingency plans for possible outbreaks of Karnal bunt of wheat, potato ring rot and Colorado beetle are currently being drawn up or revised. Also, on the 3 March 2003 I made a written statement to the House stating that the Government agreed in principle to the eradication of the North American ruddy duck, 3 March 2003, Official Report, column 71WS. However, before a decision is made on whether to move to eradication the Department has commissioned further research to refine control methods over the next 15 months at a cost of approximately £250,000.

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