Previous Section Home Page

Mr. Trippier : I have today placed tables giving the relevant information in the Library.

Hazardous Waste

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will seek to have included in the recently completed global convention on the control of transboundary movements of hazardous wastes, organised under the auspices of the United Nations environment programme, radioactive wastes amongst the controlled substances.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : No. This is unnecessary. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is the appropriate United Nations body dealing with all aspects of radioactive substances.

Column 652

Ms. Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what are the figures in tonnes for imports of special waste to the United Kingdom ; if he will break those figures down by country of origin ; from which ports these imports left, giving figures in tonnes ; and what was their destination port in the United Kingdom ; in each of the last five years.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : I refer the hon. Member to the answer that I gave to the hon. Member for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy (Dr. Thomas) on 28 October 1988 at column 427. It is not yet possible to update this information. Her Majesty's inspectorate of polluton expects to have the information from waste disposal authorities later this year.

Ms. Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, if he will list those United Kingdom companies producing special waste currently incinerated at sea.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : Information is not held centrally to enable producers of special wastes for marine incineration to be identified. The decision as to whether a waste is special under the Control of Pollution (Special Waste) Regulations 1980 is made by the waste producer. Notifications that result are held by the appropriate waste disposal authority.

Mr. Baldry : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will publish the Government's response to the Environment Committee's report on toxic waste.

Mr. Ridley : I have today published the Government's response (Cm. 679). I am pleased that the Committee is in virtually complete agreement with the Government's proposals to improve the present system of waste management. These proposals have been put forward in a series of consultation papers over the last three years. Much progress has been made in this important but difficult area and legislation is now being prepared for introduction at the earliest opportunity.

I regret that the Committee has chosen to give little credit for this major reform covering the whole of waste legislation. Instead the Committee has chosen to make serious allegations about the waste management industry in this country which are not supported by the evidence presented in the body of the report. Indeed, the Committee records that it found little evidence of pollution from waste management processes in this country.

The Committee acknowledges that the United Kingdom is one of the few countries not to have developed its waste management policy in the wake of environmental disaster. But the Government believe that potential hazards should be anticipated and that the present legal framework can be strengthened to give the best possible protection for the future. The Committee has fully endorsed our proposals to extend legal responsibility to the producers of waste and to strengthen the existing law on licensing and the aftercare of landfills.

Neither are the Government confining their reforms to the present licensing system. We are also proposing to reform the waste disposal authorities themselves. In the only significant area of disagreement between the Government and the Committee, the Government do not propose to follow the recommendation to create new regional waste regulation authorities or an environmental protection agency. Instead, the Government propose to build on the strengths of the present system by separating

Column 653

waste regulation from authorities' own operations and providing clearer and more accountable procedures for new waste regulation authorities to operate by.

The Government firmly believe that waste management practices in the United Kingdom are environmentally safe and our record, in comparison to many other countries, fully supports that view. The improvements to be made in legislation and enforcement will be our continuing safeguard against pollution from wastes for many years to come.

Ms. Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what advice he has given to those companies currently using ocean incineration to develop alternative means of disposal as a means of ending toxic waste incineration at sea, in line with the recommendations of the North sea ministerial conference.

Mr. Donald Thompson : I have been asked to reply.

Officials of my Department have advised companies which currently hold licences for incineration of waste at sea of the need to seek alternative methods of disposal of their wastes. Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution is discussing alternative land-based disposal routes with the companies concerned. We fully expect to meet the timetable agreed at the second international conference on the protection of the North sea for phasing out marine incineration.

Sewage Disposal

Ms. Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make public the costings and content for any work required at each of the sewage works controlled by the Severn-Trent water authority to meet any tightened consents approved by Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution, or other consents at the expiry of any of Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution approved temporary relaxation.

Mr. Howard : On 7 December 1988 ( Official Report, column 199 ) I announced a capital programme involving expenditure of £900 to £1,000 million designed to bring substandard sewage works into compliance with their discharge consents by March 1992. Capital investment programmes are being discussed with the individual authorities concerned, including Severn-Trent, and detailed figures are not available.

Mr. Pike : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received regarding the proposed sewer outfall pipe at Rossall Point, Fleetwood ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Howard : My right hon. Friend has received about 16,000 representations regarding the proposed long sea outfall at Rossall Point. These representations will be taken into account before any decision is made on whether North West water authority's applications for discharge consents should be granted.

Water Authorities (Debts)

Mrs. Ann Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what are the total current capital debts of the 10 water authorities ; and how much of those debts he intends to write-off on the privatisation of the industry.

Mr. Howard : Details of outstanding capital loans to water authorities are recorded in their respective annual

Column 654

reports and accounts, copies are available in the Library. The Water Bill will enable National Loans Fund and Public Works Loans Board debts to be written off and replaced as appropriate by a combination of equity and debentures. These powers will be used to put in place capital structures appropriate for the new companies.

Rating Reform

Mr. Allen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what discussions and representations he has had about the collection of unpaid poll tax.

Mr. Gummer : The Government have no intention of introducing a poll tax. We have discussed the community charge recovery system extensively with a wide range of interested bodies.

Mr. Allen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what factors influenced his decision to begin registration for the poll tax after, rather than before, the county council elections.

Mr. Gummer : The Government have no plans to introduce a poll tax. My letter of 23 December 1988 to the chairman of the local authority associations sets out the reasons for the operative date of the regulations enabling community charge registration officers to require information from individuals for the purposes of compiling their registers. I am placing a copy of the letter in the Library.

Mr. Blunkett : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps he intends to take to provide protection to agricultural workers in tied housing in relation to the payment of the community charge.

Mr. Gummer : The personal community charge is not related to the type of property occupied. People in tied accommodation who are subject to it will, in common with all chargepayers, have the protection of the rebate scheme, which specifically links people's liability to their ability to pay.

Mr. Blunkett : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he intends to issue guidance to local authorities on the rights of access to local services of those community charge payers who are either living or registered in a local authority area for a short period of time due to their itinerant lifestyle.

Mr. Gummer : No.

Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if adults placed with carers on adult placement schemes will be required to pay poll tax.

Mr. Gummer : The Government have no plans to introduce poll tax. Exemption from the personal community charge depends on the circumstances of the individual concerned. Any exemption in cases described by the hon. Gentleman would depend on whether the individual qualifies for exemption on any of the grounds set out in schedule 1 to the Local Government Finance Act 1988.

Conservation Areas (Trees)

Mr. Shersby : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what particulars he has specified in relation

Column 655

to the provision of section 61(A)(7) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971 concerning the need for district councils to keep a register of trees in conservation areas.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : Section 61(A)(7) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971 places a duty on district and London borough councils to compile and keep available for inspection a register of notices served on the council of intention to carry out work on trees in conservation areas, where such trees are not already protected by tree preservation orders or otherwise exempt. It also empowers the Secretary of State to determine what particulars should be included in such registers. The following matters were specified for this purpose in DOE circular 36/78 :

(a) the address of the land on which the tree stands and sufficient information to identify the tree ;

(b) details of the work proposed.

Water Charges

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the justification for the proposed increase in water charges by the Eastbourne waterworks ; and if he will publish in the Official Report a table showing the increase in the charges to (a) domestic consumers on and off meters and (b) private industry and public undertakings.

Mr. Howard : It is for the company to satisfy itself that the charges that it levies are within its statutory powers. The specific information requested is not held centrally.

Water Privatisation

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps will be taken after privatisation to stop the water supply undertakings from inflating their costs in order to inflate their profits.

Mr. Howard : After privatisation inflated costs will reduce the companies' profits because their charges levels will be limited. In reviewing the charges limits the Director General of Water Services will be able to obtain all the information needed to assess the cost of operation of an efficient undertaking, and to set the limits accordingly.


Mr. Blunkett : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will publish his proposals for determining the allowance to be made to local authorities for the collection of non-domestic rates and for offsetting losses or collection against their contribution to the national non-domestic rate pool.

Mr. Gummer : Our proposals were published in a consultation paper on "Payments into the National Non-Domestic Rating Pool" issued on 16 March. The closing date for responses is 12 May and discussions with the local authority associations are continuing. I am placing copies of the consultation paper in the Library.

SSSIs (Planning Applications)

Mr. Allan Roberts : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list the criteria which apply in considering whether a planning application affecting a site of special scientific interest should be referred to him.

Column 656

Mr. Chope : Every request to call in a planning application is considered on the individual merits of the case. In general, applications are called in only if planning issues of more than local importance are involved. Such cases may include, for example, those which in our opinion could have wide effects beyond their immediate locality, which give rise to substantial regional or national controversy, which may conflict with national policy on important matters, and those where the interests of national security or of foreign Governments may be involved. In considering whether to call in an application affecting a site of special scientific interest the scale of the proposed development and the extent of its effect on the site would be relevant considerations to be taken into account.

Mr. Allan Roberts : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list, in respect of each of the last three years, those cases where the Nature Conservancy Council has asked him to call in a planning application and indicate (a) those cases which were referred back to the planning authority to determine and (b) those cases which were determined in favour of the application.

Mr. Chope : The information requested is not readily available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Planning Permission (Revocations)

Mr. Thurnham : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment on how many occasions since 1959 planning permission has been revoked ; what compensation was paid on each occasion ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Chope : It is primarily for the local planning authority to decide, having regard to the development plan and to any other material consideration, whether to revoke any planning permission. Between April 1979 and December 1988 my right hon. Friend and his predecessors confirmed more than 1,300 revocation orders. Information is not available centrally about the number of unopposed orders which required no confirmation or about the amounts of compensation which were paid by local authorities.


Mrs. Mahon : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what moves he has initiated, following the outbreak in February of diarrhoea and sickness caused by the waterborne parasite cryptosporidium, to ensure that every water authority has the expertise to carry out tests to detect cryptosporidium.

Mr. Howard : Monitoring methods necessary to detect cryptosporidium in water supplies are being examined by the group of experts established by the Government under the chairmanship of Sir John Badenoch. I refer the hon. Member to my answer of 2 March to my hon. Friend the Member for Delyn (Mr. Raffan) at column 286.

Bradford (Development)

Mr. Cryer : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he has received any application from Bradford local authority of Arrocraft plc either separately or jointly for a city grant for the development of the Bradford West End scheme ; and if he will make a statement.

Column 657

Mr. Trippier : No formal application for city grant for the Bradford West End scheme has been received by the Department.

Mr. Cryer : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he has had any applications for in and out agreements for the purchase of land for the West End development in Bradford by Bradford council ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Gummer : No.

Alaska Works Development, Southwark

Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what information he has concerning the commercial office development of the Alaska works development in Southwark and on the area of office accommodation made available under this scheme ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Trippier : The Alaska works project has been offered city grant of £4,162,000. The project comprises the part refurbishment and part redevelopment of a former fur treatment works to provide a business complex of at least 127,000 sq. ft. of net lettable floor space. The space available will accommodate offices, workshops, studios and training facilities. Associated car parking facilities and a garden for use by local residents, and users of the development, will be provided.


Mr. Patnick : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he is going to publish the findings of the study of homelessness carried out by the university of Birmingham's centre for urban and regional studies.

Mr. Trippier : The findings are published today. Copies of the report have been placed in the Library. We very much welcome this study which has lessons for both central and local government. The report demonstrates clearly that homelessness is a complex problem which needs attacking on a number of fronts. Local authorities are generally doing a good job, but there is room for streamlining procedures and standardising the service to homeless people across local authorities. Conditions in temporary accommodation, and bed and breakfast in particular, are often poor and people are waiting for long periods to be rehoused into permanent accommodation.

The Department has considered the report carefully and the findings are providing a valuable contribution to our current review of homelessness legislation.

Rivers (Yorkshire)

Mr. Crowther : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will publish in the Official Report a schedule showing the changes between 1987 and 1988 in the quality of rivers in the Yorkshire region, including the lengths over which improvement or deterioration has taken place.

Mr. Howard [holding answer 24 April 1989] : I understand that the lengths of rivers and canals recorded in each water quality class by the Yorkshire water authority were as follows :

Column 658

|c|Freshwater quality class|c|          


                |1987   |1988           


1A Good quality |2,264  |2,261          

1B Good quality |2,198  |2,141          

2 Fair quality  |779    |839            

3 Poor quality  |629    |646            

4 Bad quality   |165    |148            


Total           |6,035  |6,035          

These figures are not directly comparable with those obtained from the 1985 river quality survey of England and Wales as they are based on more limited surveys carried out by the water authority.

Carbon (Levy)

Mr. Atkinson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the proposal agreed by the Toronto conference for a world levy on carbon as a basis for an environmental fund.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley [holding answer 26 April 1989] : One of the three working groups set up by the intergovernmental panel on climate change, in which the United Kingdom is playing a full part, is studying a variety of possible international response strategies, including financial and economic measures. The work is at an early stage but the IPCC has set itself the ambitious target of reporting by mid-1990.

Anti-competitive Practices

Dr. Cunningham : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if, further to his answer of 17 April, Official Report, column 36, to the hon. Member for Isle of Wight (Mr. Field) he will list the approximately 80 complaints of alleged anti-competitive practices identifying the local authorities involved.

Mr. Ridley [holding answer 26 April 1989] : The Department has received complaints alleging anti-competitive behaviour by the following authorities :

Alnwich DC

Barking and Dagenham LB

Barnsley MBC

Barrow-in-Furness BC

Beverley BC

Birmingham CC

Bolton MBC

Braintree DC

Brighton BC

Bristol CC

Bromley LB

Broxbourne DC

Broxtowe BC

Buckinghamshire CC

Carlisle BC

Carrick DC

Charnwood BC

Christchurch DC

Cleveland CC

Corby DC

Cotswold DC

Darlington BC

Eastleigh BC

East Staffordshire DC

East Sussex CC

Ellesmere Port and Neston BC

Exeter CC

Forest of Dean DC

Gloucester CC

Next Section

  Home Page