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Volume 407: debated on Wednesday 18 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list the actions her Department, its agencies and non-departmental public bodies are taking to comply with the requirements of the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002; whether she has made an estimate of the cost of compliance; and if she will make a statement. [117699]

Defra already has asbestos registers for each of its buildings, including those of its executive agencies. To comply with the new regulations Defra and its agencies have commissioned additional surveys of these properties. Specialist consultants are currently surveying buildings to try to identify any hidden asbestos. They will then prepare plans advising whether we should remove it or manage it. The programme of surveys and production of management plans will be completed by March 2004.The estimated cost of surveying properties and preparing management plans is £250,000. It is too early to produce an estimate for any removal or retention as we currently await the completion of our survey programme.Defra's non-departmental public bodies manage their own estates of buildings and land, and will therefore be responsible for complying with the new regulations.