§ Mr. Meacher
Businesses should direct applications for hardship relief to their local authority who have discretionary powers to grant rate relief of up to 100 per cent. to any ratepayer who is suffering hardship, for whatever reason, provided it is in the interest of the wider local community to do so. We have extended the central Government contribution to the cost of this relief from 75 per cent to 95 per cent. in cases where the business is seriously affected by foot and mouth disease, is located in one of the 151 eligible rural districts and has a rateable value of £12,000 or less.
Full details of the arrangements for providing this relief were set out in Special Grant Report No. 80, which was approved by Parliament on 2 April 2001.381W
§ Mr. Drew
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what advice he is giving to local authorities on how they should approach(a) businesses that apply for rateable value revaluations and (b) businesses that apply for hardship relief in relation to foot and mouth disease. 
§ Mr. Meacher
Rating lists are compiled and maintained by the Valuation Office Agency and proposals to alter values shown in the rating list must be made to the local valuation officer.
Local authorities have discretionany powers to grant rate relief of up to 100 per cent. to any ratepayer who is suffering hardship, for whatever reason, provided it is in the interest of the wider local community to do so. We have extended the central Government contribution to the cost of this relief from 75 per cent. to 95 per cent. in cases where the business is seriously affected by foot and mouth disease, is located in one of the 151 eligible rural districts and has a rateable value of £12,000 or less. Full details of the arrangements for providing this relief were set out in Special Grant Report No. 80, which was approved by Parliament on 2 April 2001.
§ Mr. McGrady
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) for what reason liquid animal waste from animal carcases was dumped in the Irish sea in the period 1 February to 30 April as a result of the foot and mouth disease outbreak; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) what the (a) geographical origin and (b) volume is of the liquid waste from animal carcases which has been dumped in the Irish sea as a result of the foot and mouth disease outbreak; 
(3) what action he is taking to prevent the further dumping of liquid waste from animal carcases into the Irish sea; and if he will make a statement; 
§ Mr. Meacher
The waste effluent in question has arisen from two sources, the Great Orton mass burial site in Cumbria and the Birkshaw mass burial site, near Lockerbie in Dumfriesshire. The waste effluent consists of the natural breakdown products which occur as the carcases decompose, primarily blood, fats, grease etc.
Both the mass disposal sites in question are operated on the "containment principle". As a result, it is an essential part of the site operation that effluents are removed from the disposal cells in order to prevent pollution of local surface and ground waters, and to be treated at appropriate facilities.
In the case of the Great Orton waste effluent, it is removed from the disposal cells and is then treated on site by means of ph adjustment to ensure that no active foot and mouth virus remains before being sent to Workington Wastewater Treatment Works (WTW). Like abattoir waste, this effluent is a readily biodegradable material and as such ideal for treatment at the WTW facilities. On discharge to the WTW it receives a dilution equivalent to 1 in 400 with the sewage already at the works for treatment. At the point of the consented discharge from the WTW to the Irish Sea, via a long sea outfall, it is estimated that a further dilution rate of in 10,000 occurs and a dilution rate of 1 in 100,000 Upon reaching the 382W coastline. At this point that would equate to a total dilution rate of 1 in 40 million. This represents zero impact on human health.
The criteria for selection of Workington WTW as the appropriate facility to receive this waste were as follows:The rate of effluent production.The available facilities capable of receiving such material.The proximity of such facilities to the site of production.The most practicable environmental solution given the nature of the foot and mouth crisis.
As a consequence and following discussion between MAFF, Environment Agency and United Utilities the Workington facility was identified as the best practicable environmental option in the circumstances.
The Environment Agency has made it clear to both MAFF, who operate the Great Orton site, and to United Utilities, who operate the Workington WTW, that the use of this works as a means of effluent disposal could only be considered as a short-term disposal option. In the medium to long term more sophisticated and robust treatment facilities must be developed on the Great Orton site in order to pre-treat the effluents and reduce their biological strength before they leave the site. This combined with the natural reduction in effluent strength as the rate of decomposition slows in the site will greatly increase the available range of off-site treatment options as an alternative to discharging to the Irish Sea.
Removal of effluent from Great Orton to Workington WTW began on 6 April 2001. As of the 9 May 2001, 8,900 cubic metres of effluent had been removed to Workington WTW.
Effluent from the Birkshaw mass burial site in Dumfriesshire is removed from the site for the same reasons as at Great Orton. It is also subject to the same virus control measures which ensures that no active virus leaves the site. In this case the effluent is taken to a licensed waste management facility near Workington, operated by ALCO Waste Management Ltd. The site is licensed to receive such wastes under the terms of its waste management licence conditions. The effluent is deposited into the landfill site where the natural biological processes taking place within the site begin the treatment of the effluent. All effluents from the site are then subject to further treatment, in the site's purpose built effluent treatment facility, before being discharged to foul sewer under and in accordance with the terms of a trade effluent consent issued by United Utilities.
The site began receiving effluent on the 18 April 2001. To date, 5,000 cubic metres have been received.
The Environment Agency has undertaken monitoring of the effluents, sampling at the marine outfalls, carried out coastal surveys and arranged for aerial photographs to be taken of the discharges. To date, no environmental impact has been observed but the position will be kept under observation.