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Report cover showing harvested leeks

Reaping the Rewards of Agricultural Research

“The Department and its contractors have sought to transfer knowledge and disseminate results of agricultural research funded by the public sector. However, commercial exploitation has historically been limited and royalties have been low. The deals to commercialise the nuclear transfer technology are the exception.

“Each new venture requires lessons to be learned and shared in the handling of commercialisation. However, the leadership and personal commitment shown in taking forward those cases where intellectual property has been exploited is to be commended.”

Published:
23 Jan 2003
Report cover showing a waste tip

Environment Agency: Protecting the Public from Waste

“I welcome the progress made by the Environment Agency in creating a single organisation which regulates waste consistently and professionally. The Agency carries out a large number of inspections of waste sites however, and needs to concentrate more effectively on areas of real risk. The Agency could be more efficient and effective by better targeting its efforts on more comprehensive and in-depth inspections, even if this means doing fewer inspections in total. Rogue operators must also be left in no doubt that enforcement action against them will be swift.”

Published:
18 Dec 2002
Report cover showing a farm with possible Foot and mouth disease

The 2001 Outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease

“This outbreak had a devastating effect on the rural economy and parts of the tourist industry. We must acknowledge that it was of an unprecedented nature and magnitude. In the light of what happened, urgent action is needed to produce contingency plans which would be more sensitive to outbreaks of different scales and thus be better suited to dealing with a future crisis on this scale. Moreover, further research must be carried out into effective measures for tackling foot and mouth. And the means for ensuring minimum standards of cost and financial control in crisis conditions must be established.

“There are lessons to be learned for the whole of government from the foot and mouth crisis. Departments need to be aware of the major threats in their areas of business and to have contingency plans in place which conform with best practice on risk management.”

Published:
21 Jun 2002
Report cover showing a polluted beach

Dealing with pollution from ships

“The Maritime and Coastguard Agency has in recent years strengthened the UK’s ability to deal with marine pollution incidents. The Agency does, however, need to satisfy itself that ports, harbours and coastal local authorities remain capable of protecting the environment from marine pollution, and ensure that it has the ability to recover its costs, prosecute offenders and deter others from polluting.”

Published:
12 Jun 2002
Report cover showing a field

Agricultural Fraud: The case of Joseph Bowden

“The Report highlights what can happen when checks on claims for agricultural subsidies are not sufficiently rigorous. In this case the authorities successfully prosecuted a fraudster but his illegal activities would have come to light earlier had the Ministry’s checks been more thorough. Large sums of public money are at risk under Common Agricultural Policy Schemes, and although systems have been put in place to prevent a repetition of the fraud, the Department and the Rural Payments Agency will have to maintain a careful watch.”

Published:
22 Feb 2002
Report cover showing collection of fuel by inspectors

HM Customs and Excise: The Misuse and Smuggling of Hydrocarbon Oils

“The estimated revenue losses from the misuse and smuggling of hydrocarbon oils duty reveal that growing sums of revenue are being lost through smuggling and the illegal use of rebated fuel. Customs have recognised this problem by producing a strategy to deal with the frauds and are developing that strategy further.

“Every effort must be made to combat this criminal activity which not only results in large amounts of lost duty but also poses threats to health and safety.”

Published:
15 Feb 2002
Report cover showing firefighters lifting a woman over flood waters

Inland Flood Defence

A National Audit Office report today highlights research by MAFF that up to two million homes and buildings in England are in areas at risk of flooding. The key points in the report to Parliament by NAO head Sir John Bourn are that: while flood defences can reduce the risk or extent of damage, they … Read more

Published:
15 Mar 2001
Report cover showing a piggy bank plugged into an electric socket

Office of Gas and Electricity Markets: Giving Domestic Customers a Choice of Electricity Supplier

Sir John Bourn, head of the National Audit Office, told Parliament today that since electricity supply competition began in September 1998 more than 6.5 million customers – one in four – have saved money by changing supplier. Domestic electricity customers as a whole have seen their electricity bills fall by some £750 million a year since … Read more

Published:
5 Jan 2001