Defra receives many letters and campaign postcards on a wide range of issues that concern both organisations and individuals. These are some of the recent responses.
Progressio's campaign on illegal logging
Progessio is running a campaign to persuade the Government to take urgent action against illegal logging.
The UK Government is working nationally and internationally to address illegal logging and promote sustainable forest management, and we recognise the causes of illegal logging are complex - linked to poverty, corruption and failures of governance and markets. There is no single solution to the problem and we are therefore implementing a range of actions.
We agree that effective legislation is urgently needed, which is why we have been active in supporting the European Commission through the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) initiative. This regulation allows the EU to set up Voluntary Partnership Agreements with developing countries and provide them with help to tackle illegal logging. We have been persistent in encouraging the Commission to consider extra legislation to support FLEGT. Thanks to ongoing pressure from the UK government, NGOs and progressive industry, a legislative proposal is expected in October as part of a package of EU measures to tackle illegal timber trade, deforestation and associated climate change.
It is important that we continue to encourage EU-wide legislation, which will be much more effective than a single country acting alone. We will therefore wait to see what the Commission recommends before committing to domestic action. We have been influential in informing the debate – by conducting analysis, consulting with stakeholders and sharing our thinking with the European Commission and other Member States.
Consumers can ensure that they are not unwittingly purchasing illegally logged wood by buying certified timber. Certification schemes recognised by the Government ensure that legality and sustainability criteria are met and that communities depending on forests for their livelihoods are respected. There is currently a review of certification schemes taking place and results will be available on the Central Point of Expertise on Timber website (www.proforest.net/cpet) in the autumn. You can read more about illegal logging at:
Friends of the Earth Incineration Campaign
The Government received a campaign from Friends of the Earth www.foe.co.uk about new incinerators being built.
The Government does not encourage local authorities to use a specific type of technology. Decisions on how to manage waste and meet targets set in the Waste Strategy for England 2007 and Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme (LATS) are a matter for each authority.
The Government is fully committed to managing waste in the most sustainable way. The country needs residual waste treatment infrastructure as well as recycling and waste prevention. The alternative to incinerators and other residual waste infrastructure is not more recycling, but more landfill. Energy recovery from residual waste provides a considerable climate change benefit compared to the alternative of landfill, through avoided landfill methane emissions and with energy from the biodegradable fraction of waste displacing fossil fuel based power generation.
All applications for Private Finance Initiative (PFI) credits have to demonstrate how they support the whole waste hierarchy - from increasing recycling and composting rates, to improving waste minimisation and increasing diversion from landfill. PFI is helping to drive up recycling rates, with authorities applying for credits now being pressed to achieve rates above the 50% average target for 2020. The total capacity of any residual waste treatment infrastructure will be determined by reference to such recycling targets. Furthermore, modern waste contracts are sufficiently flexible as to enable an authority to bring forward increased recycling rate when they wish to do so.
The climate change impacts of any technologies proposed are assessed by the authority during the procurement process. Authorities are also required to explore Combined Heat and Power (CHP) potential and there are financial incentives in place to achieve the greatest carbon benefits through CHP where possible.
The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) has taken on a stronger role in helping to steer the PFI programme which, among other things, is helping to deliver higher recycling and have a budget which enables them to deliver a challenging business plan.
PFI is one of the main mechanisms by which local authorities can procure assets in a value for money way in partnership with the private sector. You can read more about waste PFI at:
The government received a campaign from the World Development Movement for aviation and shipping emissions to be included in the Climate Change Bill.
The Bill provides that emissions from international aviation and shipping could be included in the UK’s carbon budget once international agreement is reached on how to attribute these emissions to individual countries – currently there is no such agreement. The issues here are complex.
Significant progress was achieved last December when EU environment Ministers reached agreement to include these emissions in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) from 2012 (subject to European Parliament agreement expected later this year) . This will cap emissions from the aviation sector, so that any increase in emissions must be fully offset by requiring airlines to pay for the equivalent emissions reductions from elsewhere. The Government welcomed the progress that this agreement makes towards the implementation of a scheme which will enable the aviation sector to take responsibility for its carbon emissions in the most effective way. Once the EU ETS rules have been finalised we will also ask the Committee for its independent advice on whether there is a methodology to include these emissions in our targets, and the impacts of doing so.
The Government has also decided to accept the main thrust of an amendment to the Bill, inserted by the House of Lords, that sets a deadline of five years to either include international aviation and shipping emissions in our targets or to report to both Houses on why this has not been done.
Page last modified: 30 September 2008
Page published: 23 June 2008