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Mr. Chope : None.

Waste Disposal (London)

Mr. Tony Banks : to ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what assessment in his draft planning guidance he has made of the transport and land use implications of the activities of the 16 waste disposal authorities in London ; and what proposals he has made for their co- ordination.

Mr. Chope : This is a matter for the waste disposal authorities and the London waste regulation authority. Policies may be included in unitary development plans as appropriate.

Town Centres (London)

Mr. Tony Banks : to ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what assessment he has made of the future of strategic town centres in London ; and what guidance he is offering the London boroughs in respect of their long-term development.

Mr. Chope : My right hon. Friend has considered the advice on strategic centres put forward by the London planning advisory committee. He does not consider that strategic centres should be designated in the guidance.

Leisure (London)

Mr. Tony Banks : to ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what policies and proposals in his draft planning guidance he has put forward for the development of recreation, sport and other leisure facilities in London.

Mr. Chope : Guidance is proposed on the recreational use of green belt and open land. Provision for recreation, sport and other leisure development is in general a matter for individual boroughs.


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Transport (London)

Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what priorities he has set out for transport investment by the London boroughs in his planning guidance.

Mr. Chope : It is for the boroughs to determine their own priorities for future investment in their roads through their annual transport policies and programme submissions to the Secretary of State for Transport. The purpose of strategic planning guidance is to assist the boroughs to prepare their unitary development plans. The draft guidance proposes that these plans should describe boroughs' schemes and networks in accordance with their local road hierarchy and in relation to the strategic London road network.

River Thames

Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what proposals and policies are included in his planning guidance in respect of the river Thames for (a) co-ordinating development along its banks, (b) improving public access and (c) promoting its use for freight, passenger services and leisure use.

Mr. Chope : The draft strategic guidance says that boroughs should give particulr attention to the character of any development proposals on or near the river Thames. They should aim to maintain and improve public access, and bear in mind the Countryside Commission's proposed Thames path when preparing their unitary development plans. The promotion of freight, passenger services and leisure use are not matters for strategic guidance.

Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he has considered designating the river Thames as metropolitan open land ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Chope : The proposed policies for metropolitan open land set out in draft strategic guidance are not in general applicable to the river Thames.

Conservation (London)

Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is his policy for conserving and protecting London's areas of special character.

Mr. Chope : Such areas can be protected by existing conservation and planning policies. The boroughs concerned should take these policies into account when preparing their unitary development plans.

Water Authorities Association (Advertising)

Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what information he has regarding the amounts expended by the Water Authorities Association on (a) press advertising, (b) television advertising and (c) other advertising in each of the last 12 months.

Mr. Howard : This is a matter for the Water Authorities Association.


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Housing (London)

Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what policies and proposals are contained within his draft strategic planning guidance for London designed to improve access to affordable housing.

Mr. Chope : The draft guidance refers to the part that the planning system can play in alleviating the problems of access to housing by ensuring that there is an adequate and continuing supply of land for new housing ; and that local policies allow for conversions of existing houses into smaller units and for redevelopment at higher densities where appropriate.

Business Development (London)

Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what specific locational advice he has given London boroughs for future business development apart from central London and docklands in his planning guidance.

Mr. Chope : The draft guidance proposes that boroughs should adopt a positive, flexible and realistic approach to business development throughout London. Planning policies for particular locations are a matter for the boroughs concerned, not central Government.

Footpaths

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list, for the latest convenient period for which figures are available, the number of letters received by his Department's offices in Bristol concerning footpaths on an average working day, the number replied to each day and the number which do not receive a reply within four weeks.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : Figures are not available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Water Treatment Works

Mr. Greg Knight : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he has yet been able to consider the responses of the water authorities in England and Wales and the Water Companies Association following his request for each utility to carry out a thorough review of their management and operating procedures at water treatment works, particularly unmanned installations, as a consequence of the incident at the Lowermoor works of the South West water authority last summer.

Mr. Howard : Yes. We have received and considered the responses and I am pleased to report that a number of improvements have been made to procedures following the Lowermoor incident.

My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State, asked water authorities to review, in particular, the matters set out on which separate comments are given.

(i) Waterworks Site Security. There have been some changes in key systems to ensure that access to installations is better controlled. The possible use of electronic systems is being considered in some cases together with improvements in boundary fencing.

(ii) Procedures for Receiving Chemicals at Works. Labelling of installations has been checked and improved where necessary, as have controls for receiving chemicals.


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(iii) Remote Monitoring of the Final Treated Water. Additional monitors have been introduced, or are being considered. In addition, the Water Research Centre is doing work in this area to try to ensure that any accidental contamination of the water supply is detected before it reaches the consumer.

(iv) Internal Reporting Arrangements for Incidents. Greater emphasis is being given to ensuring that emergency reporting lines are clear and co- ordinated and that senior management is informed immediately of an incident that might result in contamination of public water supplies.

(v) Emergency Procedures, Including Liaison with all those concerned with Public Health Issues. Utilities have reviewed their procedures to take account of the lessons to be learned from the Lowermoor incident. In most cases, review is a regular practice. In particular, links with those concerned with public health issues have been reviewed and reinforced where necessary.

(vi) Other Issues. My right hon. Friend also asked the utilities to consider the usefulness of employing a technique known as the Hazard Study Technique, designed to predict the outcome of potential systems failures and to ensure that all systems are fail-safe. A number of the utilities are considering using this method, if they do not already do so. Many utilities inform consumers of matters such as the undesirability of consuming water from the hot tap or have proposals to do so. The prevalence of this unsatisfactory practice was one of the revelations arising from the Lowermoor incident. Pollution incidents like Lowermoor are rare. But even one is one too many. It is vitally important that suppliers of drinking water take all reasonable measures to avoid such occurrences and that they are constantly alert and prepared to deal with any incident. This position can be secured only through regular review ; learning from one's own and others' problems ; and by holding regular exercises to ensure that staff are ready and trained to respond quickly and effectively to any incident that might affect water supply. I am most encouraged by the responses that we have received following the reviews that have just been undertaken.

Tyne and Wear (Development Plans)

Mr. Hague : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what progress has been made on the preparation of unitary development plans for Tyne and Wear.

Mr. Chope : My right hon. Friend has today issued strategic guidance to assist the five metropolitan districts in Tyne and Wear in the preparation of unitary development plans for their area. The guidance covers the key issues identified by the local authorities and the Department--urban regeneration, retailing, transport and the environment.

A draft of the guidance was circulated for comment in December 1988. Comments were received from 47 organisations and individuals. The guidance has been revised in the light of these comments. A copy of the strategic guidance, together with a report on the consultation exercise, have today been placed in the Library of the House. Following the issue of the strategic guidance, commencement orders will be issued shortly to enable the local authorities to start work on preparing their unitary development plans.


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Young People (Accommodation)

Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what information he has in respect of the number of 16 to 18-year-olds who live (a) with their parents, (b) in private rented accommodation, (c) in council accommodation, (d) in hostels, (e) in bed and breakfast or other board and lodging establishments and (f) sleeping rough.

Mr. Trippier [holding answer 17 April 1989] : The most recent estimates for the first three parts of the question are from the 1987 labour force survey. This shows (a) 2,030,000 16 to 18-year-olds living with their parents, (b) 40,000 in private rented accommodation (not with their parents), (c) 40,000 in council accommodation (not with their parents). The other numbers requested are not available.

Council House Sales

Mrs. Peacock : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many council properties have been sold to council house tenants in Kirklees since 1979 to the latest year for which figures are available ; what this is of the total stock ; and how much income this has generated for the local authorities as a result of these sales.

Mr. Trippier [holding answer 17 April 1989] : Some 3,500 sales to sitting tenants have been reported by Kirklees district council between April 1979 and the end of December 1986 ; this is about 9 per cent. of the average stock over the period since 1979 ; the reported sales had a capital value (net of discount) of over £21 million. No returns of sales to sitting tenants have been received by the Department since December 1986.

Parish Councils

Mr. Blunkett : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) if he will publish his estimates of the income raised for a 1p rate on the non-domestic properties in all parish council areas in 1989-90 ;


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(2) if he will publish his estimates of the total amount of business rate income available to parish councils in 1987- 88 and 1988-89.

Mr. Gummer [holding answer 19 April 1989] : This information is not available.

Rate Relief

Mr. Blunkett : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) if he has any plans to change the operation of rate relief for non-profit making sports clubs with the introduction of the community charge in April 1990.

Mr. Gummer [holding answer 19 April 1989] : On the introduction of the uniform business rate, local authorities will continue to have discretion to give up to 100 per cent. rate relief to non-profit making sports clubs. We are currently consulting the local authority associations and other interested bodies about how the cost of such relief should be borne.

Crown Suppliers

Mr. Campbell-Savours : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what information the Crown Suppliers privatisation unit has provided to those firms or groups who have expressed interest in purchasing the Crown Suppliers ; and if he will place a copy in the Library.

Mr. Chope : Following my announcement of 28 July, a number of firms and groups interested in purchasing the Crown Suppliers were sent a copy of that announcement, a copy of "The Crown Suppliers' Annual Report and Accounts for 1987" (already in the Library) and an information memorandum prepared by Samuel Montagu and Co. Ltd. I am arranging for copies of the information memorandum to be placed in the Library shortly.


 

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