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Defra (the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) works for the essentials of life - food, air, land, water, people, animals and plants. Its remit is the pursuit of sustainable development - weaving together economic, social and environmental concerns.

Defra brings all aspects of the environment, rural matters, farming and food production together and is a focal point for all rural policy, relating to people, the economy and the environment. It has roles in both European Union and global policy making, so that its work has a strong international dimension.
New measures to help timber-producing countries prevent illegal logging
07 May, 2006
New measures to help timber-producing countries prevent illegal logging and protect threatened forests have been agreed by European governments. EU agriculture ministers have agreed a new Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade deal which will see the EU sign agreements with poor countries where enforcement is weak to help them guarantee that timber exports to the EU are legal and licensed.
New research on cross-pollination between GM and non-GM crops
06 May, 2006
The results of a Defra-funded study on gene flow (cross-pollination) between GM and non-GM oilseed rape were published in the October edition of the scientific journal Transgenic Research. A team led by the Central Science Laboratory measured gene flow between the GM and conventional oilseed rape crops grown in the Government's Farm Scale Evaluation trials. Scientists from CSL then analysed and modelled the data.
New research programme for non-food uses of crops and renewable materials
05 May, 2006
A new LINK programme, which will provide grant-aid for research into non-food uses of crops and renewable materials, was launched today by Food and Farming Minister, Lord Bach.
New changes to waste regulations will help reduce the thousands of tonnes of household waste
04 May, 2006
New changes to waste regulations will help reduce the thousands of tonnes of household waste being fly-tipped each year. Last year, there were 500,000 fly-tips of household rubbish; much of which was dumped by operators posing as legitimate waste carriers. However, from next Monday, November 21, all householders in England will have a responsibility, under the waste 'Duty of Care', to ensure their rubbish is passed on to authorised carriers only. And those householders not taking reasonable measures to do so, could face fines of up to
New targets to increase recycling of magazines
03 May, 2006
Tough new targets to increase recycling of magazines have been formally agreed today by Ben Bradshaw Local Environmental Minister. The targets will see 50% of magazines recycled by 2007, increasing to 70% by 2013. The agreement was reached by the Government and the Periodical Publishers Association, who represent some 90% of all magazine publishers in the UK. Leading consumer magazines like Heat, Country Living and FHM alongside specialist titles such as New Scientist, The Economist and New Statesman will be covered by the new agreement.
New project to increase land open to all
02 May, 2006
While it is widely understood that the Countryside and Rights of Way Act gives a statutory right of access on foot to 935,000 of hectares of mapped open country and common land in England, it is less well-known that the law also means willing landowners can voluntarily dedicate their land for public access.
New measures for nitrate vulnerable zones
01 May, 2006
Under the Nitrates Directive, the NVZ Action Programme must be reviewed at least every four years. There are indications that existing measures are not providing effective protection of waters from nitrate pollution and need to be tightened. Defra is in discussion with the European Commission about the form revised measures might take, and comments from the farmers' workshops will be fed into those discussions.
New guidance will protect and promote Local Sites
10 April, 2006
The way Local Wildlife and Geological Sites in England are identified, selected and managed will be made easier through a more transparent and consistent approach promoted by new guidance published by Defra today.
New powers to clean neighbourhoods come into force
06 April, 2006
New powers for local authorities to deal with a plethora of environmental crimes came in to force today. Measures under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act cover everything from noisy burglar alarms to abandoned trolleys and the perennial problem of litter.
Improved air quality can extend life expectancy
05 April, 2006
New measures to tackle air pollution could extend life expectancy, cut environmental damage from acidic air pollution and generate benefits of
Go green: travellers urged to consider the environment
03 April, 2006
Mr Morley made the appeal to coincide with the start of the Government's own voluntary scheme to offset carbon emissions arising from official flights which starts this week. Money contributed by Government Departments under this offsetting initiative will purchase emissions reductions generated by renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, which reduce carbon emissions in developing countries.
Combating climate change in urban areas
03 April, 2006
Climate Change Minister Elliot Morley today (Mon) spelt out the Government's action on tackling climate change in urban areas at two major conferences.
New controls on agricultural waste
31 March, 2006
Regulations made today apply waste management controls to agricultural waste for the first time in England and Wales. The new Regulations will come into force on 15 May 2006 and will apply the same controls on agricultural waste that have applied to all other sectors of industry for many years.
Councils urged to clean up their act with new powers
30 March, 2006
Environment Secretary, Margaret Beckett, today launched a nationwide clampdown on litter as part of a package of new powers for local authorities. New measures under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act, which come into force on April 6, will see local authorities better equipped to combat litter in terms of both prevention and penalties.
Farmers invited to take the whole farm approach
29 March, 2006
The Whole Farm Approach, Defra's new web-based system designed to save England's farmers time and money, goes live today. It is now open to the country's 120,000 farms.
Business must work in partnership to protect natural resources
28 March, 2006
The UK and Brazilian governments joined together this morning to strongly encourage businesses to engage in biodiversity issues.
New climate change programme sets out UK agenda for action domestically and internationally
28 March, 2006
An ambitious programme to tackle climate change domestically and to secure agreement on action to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions was published by the Government and devolved administrations today.
Bradshaw warns: action needed on business waste
27 March, 2006
Ben Bradshaw today urged businesses to take more action on waste as business and industrial waste issues are 'moving up the political agenda'. The Local Environmental Quality Minister comments come as Defra announce a new programme of pilot studies, business support services and research to help businesses get smarter in how they manage their resources and ultimately wastage.
Defra seeks pilot sites for integrated urban drainage projects
22 March, 2006
A questionnaire to identify pilot sites for developing integrated approaches to urban drainage has been published by Defra.
Defra to develop farm plastics scheme
21 March, 2006
Defra today announced plans to develop statutory producer responsibility regulations to increase the collection and recycling of non packaging farm plastics. The regulations, which will be developed in collaboration with the devolved administrations, would cover England, Scotland and Wales. Northern Ireland will consider introducing regulations following consultation.
Optimism for woodland and farmland birds as some species increase
20 March, 2006
Populations of Tree Sparrows, Whitethroats and Green Woodpeckers are increasing according to statistics published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) today.
New reports highlight need to consider environmental impacts of changes to farming practices
17 March, 2006
The wider environmental impacts of changes to the way that crops are grown are considered in two new reports published today. The studies follow up the Farm Scale Evaluations programme which examined the environmental effect of genetically modified herbicide-tolerant crops.
Living with a changing coastline, Government sets out priorities for the future
14 March, 2006
Embracing sustainable solutions to coastal protection in England will be a challenging step for some communities, Environment Minister Elliot Morley said today.
Action on gangmasters will protect workers
13 March, 2006
Up to 600,000 workers will be protected from exploitation by rogue employers with the introduction of gangmaster licensing, Defra announced today. Licences must be held by anyone supplying labourers to work in agriculture or food processing and packaging.
Packaging waste data set to improve
03 March, 2006
A new system to handle and disseminate information and data on packaging waste is to be developed by the Advisory Committee on Packaging.
New campaigns to reduce gum litter
02 March, 2006
The Chewing Gum Action Group today announced funding for 15 local authorities across England to help them deal with the problem of gum litter. Local authorities in Bristol City, Chesterfield, Colchester, Hertsmere, Horsham, Kensington, Lancaster City, Leeds, Lewisham, Medway, Plymouth, Solihull, Stoke on Trent, Trafford and Wigan will all receive money towards campaigns this summer.
Delivering a sustainable water supply: government gives company wider powers to meter
01 March, 2006
The first water company to apply to the Government for the right to compulsorily meter all its customers has been given the go-ahead today. Folkestone and Dover Water Services' successful application for 'area of water scarcity' status means it will be able to accelerate its programme of switching household customers over to water meters.
New taskforce formed to help companies move to greener practices
28 February, 2006
A new business taskforce has been brought together to identify ways in which companies can move to more sustainable consumption and production practices. The formation of the UK Business Taskforce on Sustainable Consumption and Production and its Steering Group, who will formally meet for the first time on 14 March, was today welcomed by Environment Minister, Elliot Morley.
Solid low level radioactive waste
28 February, 2006
Proposals for dealing with solid low level radioactive waste have been published today for consultation.
Air quality experts announce new air quality guidelines for halogens and hydrogen halides
27 February, 2006
Air quality experts have today published new guidelines for halogens and hydrogen halides for protecting human health.
The country needs a thriving and profitable farming industry
27 February, 2006
We need a thriving and profitable farming industry to produce our food, to deliver the landscapes we value and to help meet our future energy needs, Margaret Beckett, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs told farmers today.
Start date for pre-movement testing of cattle for bovine TB delayed to give farmers
16 February, 2006
New rules to help reduce the risk of spreading bovine TB through movements of cattle in England will now be introduced on 27 March to give industry more time to prepare for the measure, Defra announced today.
New code of practice for using pesticides
13 February, 2006
A new Code of Practice for professional users of plant protection products was published today. The Statutory Code replaces and updates three previous codes of practice including the code for using pesticides in amenity areas, which was previously a voluntary code.
Government urges greener digital tv services
10 February, 2006
Digital TV broadcasters, manufacturers and retailers are being urged by the government not to promote or sell those set top boxes which waste energy.
Saving people from poverty is key to saving rare species
10 February, 2006
Humans have caused a substantial and largely irreversible loss in the diversity of life on earth. If we are to stop this trend we must stop the unsustainable use of the world's natural resources. And if we are to do this without creating more poverty and starvation in the developing countries, we have to ensure that local people are part of the solution.
UK and India agree urgent action to save tigers from extinction
06 February, 2006
The UK and Indian Governments have agreed a way forward to help to reverse the rapid decline in India's tiger population, which could be on the brink of extinction, with fears growing that organised crime is now involved in the trade in tiger skins.
Knight commends Indian villagers saving tigers and climate
05 February, 2006
Biodiversity Minister Jim Knight today congratulated villagers in northern India who are helping to save the world's climate as well as their own endangered tigers.
UK joins US to lead world fight against wildlife crime
02 February, 2006
Biodiversity Minister Jim Knight announced in India today that the UK Government is joining the US-led Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking and he urged India and China to do so in order to save rare species, such as tigers, from extinction.
New & fairer cattle compensation tables come into force
01 February, 2006
A new and fairer compensation scheme based on table valuations comes into force for cattle in England affected by certain diseases.
Maintaining a sustainable water supply, government consults on plans for water resource management
31 January, 2006
The ways in which water companies should prepare and publish their plans for managing water resources are the subject of a Government consultation launched today.
New powers to improve local environment
26 January, 2006
Everyone will soon have access to detailed information on the cleanliness and quality of their local environment, Environment Secretary, Margaret Beckett, announced at a meeting with council leaders today.
New online coastal atlas improves UK's readiness for maritime management
23 January, 2006
A new online atlas will be launched at the Coastal Futures 2006 conference. The 'Coastal and Marine Resource Atlas' will replace outdated hard copy maps of the UK's coastline with constantly updated marine data intended as one stop shop for planning how the UK protects the environment in cases of oil spills at sea.
New voluntary scheme to increase fertiliser safety
09 January, 2006
FIAS, the Fertiliser Industry Assurance Scheme, which comes into force on 9 January 2006, will provide assurance for all aspects of fertiliser production and distribution up to the point of delivery to the end user.
New measures to tackle Bovine TB in England
15 December, 2005
New measures to tackle bovine TB in cattle in England, including the pre-movement testing of cattle and a 12-week consultation on badger culling, were announced by Defra today.
DTI looks to make the most of waste
20 December, 2004
The DTI has recently announced the launch of its Technology Programme (Waste). There are many areas in common with the Sustainable Technologies Initiative.
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