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37. Mr. Adley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will seek to amend existing legislation that provides presumption in favour of developers, in current planning law ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Chope : There is a long-standing principle that applications for planning permission should be granted unless the development proposed would cause demonstrable harm to interests of acknowledged importance. That principle remains sound.
40. Ms. Primarolo : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received from the London boroughs grants scheme on section 137 of the Local Government Act 1972 ; and whether he has arranged to meet their representatives.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : The London borough grants scheme wrote to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State arguing against the proposal in paragraph 8.20 of the White Paper "The Conduct of Local Authority Business". My right hon. Friend, the Minister for Local Government, will meet representatives on 23 February.
105. Ms. Armstrong : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will give the latest figures for families accepted as homeless by local authorities (a) in Greater London and (b) in England and Wales as a whole.
Mr. Trippier : The latest estimates of households accepted as homeless by English local authorities appears in table 1 of "Local authorities' action under the homelessness provisions of the 1985 Housing Act : England, Results for the third quarter of 1988, Supplementary tables", which is available in the Library. For Welsh figures, I refer the hon. Member to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales.
Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the reason for the delay in publishing the Audit Commission's report on its study of local authorities and homelessness ; when he expects the report to be published ; and if he will make a statement.
43. Mr. Geraint Howells : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received from recreational groups concerning access to water authority land after privatisation ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Moynihan : My right hon. Friend has received representations from a number of bodies which are being carefully considered. However, the Water Bill imposes on the NRA and on the water and sewerage undertakers the same duties in respect of public access as at present apply to the water authorities, and the associated draft code of practice will make clear the presumption that the undertakers should continue to open up land of high amenity value to public access wherever circumstances allow.
58. Mr. Lofthouse : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received on the financial implications of the Water Bill in respect of land owned by the water authorities.
Mr. Moynihan : My right hon. Friend has received representations from the Council for the Protection of Rural England, the Countryside Commission and others on access to and conservation of water authority land after privatisation. In addition he has received representations from a local authority about compensation for councils whose land was transferred to water authorities under the Water Act 1973.
77. Mr. David Young : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he has received a copy of the Countryside Commission's report of December 1988 on sites of conservation and recreation value currently in the ownership of water authorities ; and if he will make a statement.
The planning system, together with the existing arrangements for national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty, protects and will continue to protect amenity land.
The majority of land in national parks has always been in private ownership, and there is no evidence that this inhibits public enjoyment or leads to unacceptable development.
Column 638response to the consultation paper "A New Financial Regime for Local Authority Housing in England and Wales" ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Moynihan : The Water Bill provides for the establishment of the new National Rivers Authority with strong powers for the protection and enhancement of the water environment. The Bill also contains proposals for a strengthened general framework for the control of water pollution through the introduction of statutory water quality objectives. Improved powers to establish water protection zones are included in the Bill along with new provisions designed to allow most stringent controls over discharges of the most dangerous "Red List" substances.
Other action in hand includes major programmes by the regional water authorities, costing in the region of £900 million to £1,000 million to bring sewage treatments works which are at present failing to meet discharge consent conditions into compliance by March 1992. Regulations are also being prepared to improve controls over three of the commonest sources of water pollution incidents--slurry, silage and oil stores.
47. Mr. Morley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will give the latest available figures for households in bed-and- breakfast accommodation (a) in Greater London and (b) in England and Wales as a whole.
Mr. Trippier : Latest estimates of households temporarily placed in bed-and-breakfast accommodation by English local authorities appear in table 4(a) of "Local authorities' action under the homelessness provisions of the 1985 Housing Act : England. Results for the third quarter of 1988. Supplementary Tables", which is available in the Library.
For Welsh figures, I refer the hon. Member to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales.
Mr. Trippier : The latest estimate of the average cost per household day of bed-and-breakfast accommodation provided by English local authorities in 1987-88 is £34 (£26 net of offsetting income such as DSS allowances).
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : We have received representations from or on behalf of about 15 local authorities concerning the announcement on 19 December by my right hon. Friend the Minister for Local Government of the rate support grant settlement for 1989-90. Several hon. Members also made representations during the debate on the settlement on 19 January. The House then approved the 1989-90 rate supports grant report and supplementary reports for earlier years.
Mr. Chope : District councils for rural areas should include appropriate planning policies in their local development plans. Our planning policy guidance note on local plans, published in November, notes that large areas of the country still have no local plan and urges local planning authorities to make full use of this key component of the planning system. In rural areas new and updated local plans should reflect the Government's policies for fostering diversification of the rural economy.
53. Mr. Beith : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what assessment he has made of the extent to which housing association rent levels can be kept within the means of locally employed people in rural areas under his present policies.
69. Mr. Campbell-Savours : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he has any proposals to ensure that housing association rents set under mixed funding in rural areas will be affordable by rural workers.
Column 640funding in England in 1989-90 will be 75 per cent. The Housing Corporation is publishing rates, within this overall average, for different types of development in different areas of the country. Housing associations in all parts of the country, including rural areas, will be able to set rents within the reach of people in lower-paid employment.
55. Mr. Meale : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what proposals he has to enable private tenants of non-resident landlords to change their landlord in the event of being subjected to persistent harassment.
Mr. Trippier : The Housing Act 1988 extends the remedies available to tenants through the courts by strengthening the law on harassment and illegal eviction, and introducing a new civil right to damages for an illegally evicted occupier. With the increase in privately rented accommodation expected as a result of the Act, tenants who wish to change landlord for whatever reason should find it easier to do so.
57. Mr. Fearn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if his Department has any plans to bring forward the date of compliance with EEC bathing water standards ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Moynihan : At present, some £70 million a year is being spent on schemes to improve the quality of bathing waters. We are discussing with water authorities the costs and the feasibility of bringing all waters identified under directive 76/160/EEC up to the European standards. In 1987, some 60 per cent. of the waters met those standards. The indications are that the results for the 1988 bathing season will show a further improvement.
Mr. Trippier : Sales have increased substantially over the last two years. The current forecast is for more than 150,000 sales by local authorities and new towns in England in 1988-89 some 70 per cent. more than in 1986-87 and the second largest total for any financial year since the right to buy was introduced.
60. Mr. O'Brien : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what percentage of Estate Action finance is directed to energy conservation and to providing heating facilities ; and if he will make a statement.
61. Mr. Bradley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what information he has as to how many families have been admitted into local authority homeless accommodation in the last 12 months due to mortgage arrears.
Mr. Trippier : In the 12 months to September 1988 local authorities accepted responsibility to secure accommodation for an estimated 9, 100 households under the homelessness provisions of the 1985 Housing Act, where the immediate reason for homelessness was mortgage arrears. Information is not available of type of mortgage lender.
Mr. Trippier : The latest figures available for mortgage repossessions by building societies cover the first half of 1988. At 0.134 per cent. of all mortgage advances, the figure shows a continuing downward trend.
62. Mr. Amos : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the new financial arrangements for parish councils when the Local Government Finance Act becomes operational.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : When the Local Government Finance Act becomes operational, parish councils will continue to have the right to raise whatever money they need by precepting on the charging authority for their area, which must meet such precepts from the moneys--community charge, needs grant and its share of the national business rate--in its collection fund. The charging authority will reflect a parish precept in the community charge it sets for the parish area.
We are currently discussing with the local authority associations needs assessments for the grant system and the detailed arrangements for paying precepts. We envisage that charging authorities' needs assessments will include recognition of spending on functions which may be undertaken by parishes, and that a charging authority will meet its parish precepts in full, whatever the actual amount of community charges it collects.
64. Mr. Shersby : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects to be able to announce his decision on the appeal by Milton Hutchings Ltd. and the Costain Group against the decision of the London borough of Hillingdon in connection with Pield Heath Nurseries, Cowley, Uxbridge.
Mr. Trippier : I can reply only for England. Returns made by English local authorities with their latest housing investment programmes indicate that there were 102,900 empty council dwellings at 1 April 1988. With the agreement of the local authority associations, my Department has carried out a survey of authorities' policy and practice with their empty dwellings ; when the results are available, I will consider what action should be taken to bring these dwellings into use.
Mr. Trippier : A departmental review of measures for dealing with derelict land reclamation and the criteria attaching to derelict land grant is now under way. The outcome will be announced later in the year.
72. Mr. Anthony Coombs : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what was the level of Government grant aid for the reclamation of derelict land in inner city areas in 1987-88 and 1986-87 ; and how many acres of land were involved in each year.
Mr. Trippier : Public expenditure of approximately £50 million in 1986-87 and £75 million in 1987-88 was applied to the reclamation or improvement of land in the areas of the 57 urban programme authorities, through derelict land grant, urban development grant, the urban programme and the urban development corporations. Comprehensive statistics for the area of land reclaimed in inner cities were not collected centrally for this period.
67. Mr. Maclennan : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what proposals he has received from Nirex concerning the choice of sites for the disposal of nuclear waste ; and if he will make a statement.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State decided in July last year not to designate Basildon for rate limitation in 1989-90 on the best information then available to him about Basildon's likely total expenditure for 1988-89, namely the budget return for 1988-89 dated 14 April 1988.
75. Mr. Michael : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what criteria he used in considering the appointment of a chairman to the National Rivers Authority advisory committee ; and whether it is his policy to extend the criteria in making future appointments including the chairman for the proposed National Rivers Authority.
Mr. Moynihan : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State wished to appoint as chairman of the National Rivers Authority advisory committee someone with proven management experience and experience of environmental matters. In accordance with the requirement in clause 1(4) of the Water Bill my right hon. Friend will seek to appoint people to the board of the National Rivers Authority who have experience of, and have shown capacity in, matters relevant to the functions of the authority.
76. Mr. Corbyn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received concerning his review of part III of the Housing Act 1985, previously the Homeless Persons Act ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Trippier : Reports have been sent by SHAC/Shelter ; the Institute of Housing ; the National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux ; the Association of London Authorities and the Association of District Councils. In addition, a number of other organisations, individual local authorities and members of the public have sent representations.
79. Mr. McCartney : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will take steps to prevent the homes of service men on active service being transferred from the local authority to another landlord if they are unable to vote under the tenants' choice provisions in the Housing Act 1988.
Column 644those temporarily absent from home, were described in my Department's consultation paper "Tenants' Choice : Consultation and Voting", which was issued on 8 December 1988 and copies of which were placed in the Library.
Mr. Moynihan : Protection of the marine environment remains a high priority for my Department and other Departments with marine responsibilities. In addition to implementing the major programme of measures agreed at the London North sea conference and preparing for the third North sea conference in March next year, we are discussing a wide range of follow-up work in other fora including the Oslo and Paris commissions, the North sea scientific task force and, where relevant, the European Community.
Mr. Trippier : It is for the Housing Corporation to determine the allocation of its capital programme to individual housing associations and areas, within broad priorities agreed with my right hon. Friend. Details of the approved development programme for 1989-90 and forward plans for 1990- 91 and 1991-92 were given in my answer of 14 December to my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, East (Mr. Knowles) at column 629.
84. Mr. Malcolm Bruce : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list the five main sources of pollution into the atmosphere, giving the tonnage of pollution per year in each case.