Written statements

Government Ministers and a small number of other Members of the two Houses can make a written statement to one or both Houses.

Written statements are published below shortly after receipt in Parliament. They also reproduced in the next edition of the Daily Report and of Hansard in the relevant House.

Written statements made before 17 November 2014 were published only in Hansard:

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Written Statement Indentifying Number – Every written statement in the House of Commons and House of Lords has a WSID per parliamentary session.
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Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Made on: 17 December 2015
Made by: Elizabeth Truss (The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs )
Commons

Air Quality

I have today issued the UK plan for improving air quality. This Plan sets out a comprehensive approach that will reduce health impacts and meet our environmental and legal obligations by implementing a new programme of Clean Air Zones. It is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/air-quality-plan-for-nitrogen-dioxide-no2-in-uk-2015

Under this Plan, by 2020 the most polluting diesel vehicles - old polluting buses, coaches, taxis and lorries - will be discouraged from entering the centres of Birmingham, Leeds, Southampton, Nottingham and Derby. Newer vehicles that meet the latest emission standards, and private cars, will be unaffected.

Over recent decades, air quality has improved significantly. Between 2005 and 2013 emissions of nitrogen oxides have fallen by 38% and particulate matter has reduced by more than 16%. Over the past five years the Government has committed over £2 billion to help bus operators upgrade their fleets, reduce pollution from a range of vehicles such as refuse trucks and fire engines through cutting edge technologies, and promote the development of clean alternative fuels such as powering taxis with liquid petroleum gas in Birmingham.

In order to bring the UK into legal compliance and to reduce concentrations of nitrogen dioxide below 40 µg/m3 Clean Air Zones will be introduced in five cities. These Zones will reduce the pollution in city centres and encourage the replacement of old, polluting vehicles with modern, cleaner vehicles. Similar zones in Germany and Denmark have been shown to improve air quality.

These Zones will target air quality hot spots. Following scoping studies, which Government will provide funding for, Councils will consult on the details on these Zones.

In Birmingham, Leeds, Southampton, Nottingham and Derby, these Zones will cover old diesel buses, coaches, taxis and lorries. Newer vehicles that meet the latest emissions standards will not need to pay and, under this Plan, no private car will have to pay. The local authorities will have to set charges at levels designed to reduce pollution, not to raise revenue (beyond recovering the costs of the scheme).

Birmingham and Leeds will also discourage old polluting diesel vans and implement other measures including park and ride schemes, signage, changes in road layouts and provision of infrastructure for alternative fuels.

Many companies have already started to update their fleets to modern, cleaner vehicles. For example, by 2017 British Gas will have replaced at least 10% of their commercial fleet with electric vehicles, reducing emissions compared to their old diesel vans. The new electric vans also represent a saving over their diesel counterparts. In London the cost savings could be as high as 20%, with other locations saving between 6-10%.

The Environment Agency, winner of Green Fleet of the Year 2015, has committed to increase the number of ultra-low emission vehicles to more than 100 by the end of 2015.

Another example of businesses modernising their fleet is Reading Buses - 38% of their fleet are ‘ultra-clean’ drastically reducing their emissions. Drivers are also given advice on fuel efficient eco-driving techniques.

One of the main reasons our cities continue to face air quality problems is the failure of diesel vehicles to deliver expected emission reductions in real world driving conditions. We have recently secured agreement in the EU to introduce more stringent emissions testing across the EU, ensuring that vehicles live up to their low emission credentials. Our Plans fully factor in current car performance and future performance standards following this agreement.

The Mayor of London has a well-developed strategy for improving air quality by 2025, including the implementation of an ultra-low emission zone by 2020, retro-fitting of buses and licensing new taxis to be zero emission capable from 2018. We will continue to support and monitor the delivery of the Mayor’s plans.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS401
WS
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Made on: 17 December 2015
Made by: Elizabeth Truss (The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs )
Commons

Bovine TB

Today I am updating the House on the implementation of our 25-year strategy to eradicate bovine TB in England.

The strategy is delivering results with more than half the country on track to be officially free of the disease by 2019.

Badger control operations in Somerset, Gloucestershire and Dorset were all successful in meeting their targets. The UK Chief Veterinary Officer’s advice is that the results show that industry-led badger control can deliver the level of effectiveness required to be confident of achieving disease control benefits. As part of our strategy the Government wants to see badger control over a wider number of areas next year. This is in line with the UK Chief Veterinary Officer’s advice on what is needed to realise disease control benefits at regional level.

Bovine TB is the greatest animal health threat to the UK. Dealing with the disease is costing the taxpayer £100million each year. Last year alone over 26,000 cattle had to be slaughtered in England to control the disease, causing devastation and distress for farmers and rural communities across large swathes of the country.

The Government is taking strong action to deliver a long-term plan to eradicate the disease and protect the future of the UK’s dairy and beef industries. The comprehensive strategy includes strengthening cattle testing and movement controls, improving biosecurity on farm and when trading, and badger control in areas where TB is rife.

The Low Risk Area, covering over half of England, is on track to achieve officially TB-free status by the end of 2019. This would be the first time anywhere in England has enjoyed this status.

The approach of tackling the disease in cattle and in wildlife has worked in Australia, is working in New Zealand and Ireland and is supported by the Government and Defra Chief Scientists, the UK Chief Vet and other leading vets.

To further improve our cattle movement controls, the Government plans to introduce statutory post-movement testing next year for cattle entering the Low Risk Area. This will reduce the risk of importing TB-infected animals from higher risk areas and bring this part of England in line with Scotland. In November 2015, Defra, in partnership with AHDB, the NFU, BCVA and Landex, launched a campaign to step up biosecurity measures in farms and in the cattle trade and help protect herds from bovine TB.

We have also overseen the successful completion of the first year of six private badger vaccination projects funded under the Badger Edge Vaccination Scheme. The ongoing worldwide shortage of BCG vaccine and the need to prioritise available stocks for humans is impacting on supply for badger vaccination projects. Following advice from Public Health England, I have taken the decision to suspend attempts to source BCG vaccine for the Badger Edge Vaccination Scheme and other private badger vaccination deployment projects in England until the supply situation is resolved. This follows the decision of the Welsh Government to do the same.

Our long-term research to develop an oral TB vaccine for badgers and an effective TB vaccine for cattle is ongoing.

The European Commission has endorsed Defra’s bovine TB eradication programme for ongoing financial support in 2016.

To ensure we have a successful and resilient industry, I am determined to enable all available measures necessary to eradicate this devastating disease as quickly as possible. We will continue to deliver on our 25-year strategy for a TB-free England.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS402
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