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59. Mr. Patnick : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Gedling (Mr. Mitchell) of 28 June, Official Report, column 485, when he now expects to make an announcement on fixed penalties for littering.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the then Secretary of State on 20 July 1989 to my hon. Friend the Member for Chelmsford (Mr. Burns) at columns 347-48.
61. Mr. Buckley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received from organisations on his proposals to change the Local Government Planning and Land Act 1980, with respect to competition for building and maintenance work ; and if he will make a statement.
Column 781Housing Bill and the question of grant penalty being applied in the event of emergency expenditure ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. David Hunt : I have received a number of representations concerning what is now clause 142 of the Local Government and Housing Bill. One of the features of the new local government finance system is that there will be no link between an authority's spending and the amount of revenue support grant it receives. Expenditure on emergency work will not, therefore, result in any grant penalty.
66. Mr. Cryer : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps he takes to ensure that his discussions with developers and local authorities on city grant applications do not conflict with his position as the final authority on planning applications ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Moynihan : City grant applications are not accepted for appraisal unless planning permission for the project has already been granted or is due to be considered shortly by the local planning authority. Projects are discussed and appraised only in relation to the criteria for City grant and, until there is a final determination of planning permission, I do not take a decision on the city grant application.
67. Mr. Michael : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he has developed any proposals to meet the permanent housing needs of residents of hostels and special needs housing projects in England and Wales.
Mr. Chope : The increased resources made available by the Government for capital expenditure on housing will enable more subsidised permanent accommodation to be provided, which can be used for residents of hostels and shared housing where appropriate. In addition, the future arrangements for Government support for special needs housing by housing associations are under consideration in consultation with the Housing Corporation, the National Federation of Housing Associations and representatives of the hostels movement.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : I have met the chairman of the Countryside Commission, Sir Derek Barber, along with ministerial colleagues, on several occasions this year to discuss issues related to the work of the commission and the development of policies for the countryside.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : A thorough review of legislation relating to waste management is nearing completion. New legislation, which will include many measures to improve the control of landfills, will be introduced at the earliest opportunity.
Mr. David Hunt : My right hon. Friend the then Secretary of State met leaders of the Association of District Councils at the meeting of the Consultative Council on Local Government Finance on Wednesday 12 July. The consultative council discussed the terminology for the new system of local government finance ; projections of local authorities' spending in 1990-91 ; proposals for new standard spending assessments ; and arrangements for the future review of standard spending assessments.
73. Mr. Illsley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received on the grant related needs assessment for Barnsley metropolitan district council ; and whether he will provide extra resources to that authority.
Mr. David Hunt : My right hon. Friend the then Minister for Local Government met a delegation from Barnsley metropolitan borough council with the hon. Member for Barnsley, West and Penistone (Mr. McKay) on 29 June. At that meeting, and in a letter subsequently received from the leader of the council, Barnsley made
representations on standard spending assessments, on the overall level of grant and on its own resources. Before taking any decisions on the grant settlement, we shall consider all respresentations made, including those by Barnsley.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : No means of electricity generation are entirely free of environmental effects. Both nuclear power and renewable energy sources have a valuable contribution to make to the aim of limiting the emission of environmentally damaging gaseous pollutants and of greenhouse gases, which result from the burning of fossil fuels.
76. Mr. Colin Shepherd : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many planning appeals in the last 12 months for which figures are available have resulted in decisions which are contrary to local plans where these have been in place.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : I refer the hon. Member to my reply to the hon. Member for Ceredigion and Pembroke, North (Mr. Howells) on 28 June 1989 at column 492. Officials of the Department are in regular contact with NCC on these matters.
Mr. Martyn Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what advice he has received from the Nature Conservancy Council as to the difficulties experienced in progressing marine nature reserve designations ; if he has any plans to review (a) the existing consultation procedure or (b) section 36 and 37 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 ; and if he will make a statement.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : My Department is in close touch with the Nature Conservancy Council on all matters connected with the designation of marine nature reserves, including consultation procedures. There are no plans at present to revise sections 36 and 37 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
Mr. Moynihan : My last formal meeting with the chairman of the Sports Council was on 3 July when we discussed the council's corporate plan. We meet at regular intervals to discuss issues relating to sport.
80. Mrs. Mahon : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many poll tax registration forms have been referred to the data protection registrar for alleged breaches of data protection principles.
Mr. David Hunt : I understand that the data protection registrar has requested all community charges registration officers to provide him with a copy of the form they are using to compile the community charges register.
Mr. Steinberg : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if, for each of the last three White Papers issued by his Department, for which legislation has been started, he will state the time elapsed between their publication and the First Readings of any Bills connected with them ; and if he will do the same for the last three White Papers issued by his Department prior to May 1979.
Column 784proposed and has been subsequently started or completed, were "Privatisation of the Water Authorities in England and Wales", "Housing : The Government's Proposals" and "The Conduct of Local Authority Business--The Government Response to the Report of the Widdicombe Committee of Inquiry". These were published in February 1986, September 1987 and July 1988 respectively ; and the First Readings of the Water Bill and Local Government and Housing Bill which resulted from them took place in the record of the last Government in this matter, but the information requested should be available in the Library of the House and the Official Report.
Mr. Raffan : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what percentage of United Kingdom rivers are in class 1 of river water quality and what is the comparable percentage figure for the European Community as a whole.
Mr. Howard : The 1985 river quality surveys indicated that about 83 per cent. of river lengths in the United Kingdom were classified as being of class 1 (good) quality. Comprehensive information on a comparable basis for other EC member states is not available. However, a study published in 1988 by the water research centre, in reviewing classification schemes across member states, showed that on the basis of comparisons made using the United Kingdom river classification scheme, only 39 per cent. of rivers in the European Community as a whole were of good quality. Only one other member state--Ireland at 84 per cent.--had a greater proportion of "good" quality rivers. A summary of these results is published in the Water Authorities' Association publication "Water Facts 1988".
Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received about the future of 97-107 Shaw street, Liverpool ; and whether he will intervene to prevent the demolition of these properties.
Mr. Chope : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment is not aware of any representations following the then Secretary of State's decision on the Liverpool city council order. This decision was issued on 30 March 1989 and the city council has a five-year period within which it must take action.
A total of five statutory and 102 non-statutory objections were received in response to the compulsory purchase order, all of which were considered by my right hon. Friend before he issued his decision.
Mr. Cran : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what progress is being made in his Department's review, in line with Treasury guidelines, of the potential for the further relocation of Civil Service posts outside London and the south east ; and when he expects the review to be completed.
Column 785located outside London, 24 per cent. outside the south east. All other posts have been assessed for relocation potential, and some 1, 350 posts have been identified for detailed investigation. Studies covering 320 posts are complete, leading to proposals to move some 90 out of London, which are now being implemented. Studies covering the other posts will be carried out over the next two years or so, as operational requirements allow.
Seventy per cent. of the PSA's staff of 22,800 (including the Crown Suppliers) are already located outside London, 45 per cent. outside the south east. The agency is being restructured to become a more commercial organisation, and the scope for further relocation is being examined through the business planning process.
Mr. Chope : When I announced the publication of MPG6 in March, I said that its purpose was to ensure that the construction industry continues to receive an adequate and steady supply of minerals at the best balance of social, environmental and economic costs ; and that there was a need to apply the national and regional guidelines at the mineral planning authority level and that the Government believed that this should be treated as a priority task by the mineral planning authorities and the regional aggregates working parties. I have now been advised by the national co-ordinating group that the recent and current level of demand for construction aggregates is running at a level substantially higher than that envisaged when MPG6 was prepared. I am also advised that in some parts of the country, the guidelines contained in MPG6 have not yet been fully implemented.
In these circumstances, the Government believe that it is very important that both industry and mineral planning authorities take positive steps to respond to the present situation. In particular both should ensure that the guidance given in MPG6 is implemented as a matter of priority. The following three points are of particular importance.
First, for aggregate minerals the aim should be to provide for the release of land to maintain a stock of permissions (a landbank) for an appropriate local area, sufficient for at least 10 years extraction unless exceptional circumstances prevail. This is not the case in many areas and industry and mineral planning authorities should consider urgently what steps should be taken to make further provision.
Secondly, the guidelines suggested how provision could be made for the period up to 2005. At present rates of consumption it will be needed over a shorter period than that. Authorities should recognise that to maintain landbanks in accordance with MPG6 and to ensure that future demand can be met, this provision may well need to be brought forward and made available at an earlier point in the period. Thridly, when preparing and altering development plans, mineral planning authorities should have regard to the current situation, and policies should be formulated with an appropriate degree of flexibility.
The Department is making provision for an up-to-date survey of aggregates-- AM89. It is important that this
Column 786should be completed by the end of 1990. At that time we shall also be in a position to take account of such important factors as the results of our current research projects into alternative sources of supply and the planning considerations which affect minerals extraction. In the light of changing circumstances work on a revised forecast will begin soon in order that the results can be taken into account for the next edition of the guidelines.
Finally I would like to reiterate that the Secretaries of State attach importance to the speedy and effective implementation of the policies and guidelines contained in MPG6. These aim to ensure that the needs of society for minerals are satisfied with due regard to the protection of the environment. They look to mineral planning authorities and the industry to achieve this and they will have regard to this statement in considering development plans, planning applications and appeals.
I am drawing this statement to the attention of all mineral planning authorities and to the planning inspectorate and I am asking that national co-ordinating group to monitor the situation and provide a progress report in six months' time.
Mr. McLoughlin : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he intends to issue further policy guidance about planning powers in relation to landfill sites which may be generating harmful gases ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Chope : My right hon. Friends the Secretary of State and the Secretary of State for Wales have today published a circular "Landfill Sites : Development Control" (Doe circular 17/89, Welsh Office circular 38/89). Copies of which will be placed in the Library.
The circular, which takes account of comments on a draft issued last December, gives further advice to local authorities about the use of their planning powers in relation to landfill sites in England and Wales which may be generating harmful gases.
Mr. Barry Field : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what studies he has made of the environmental improvement to the atmosphere that would be achieved if county council surveyors specified polymer modified bitumens.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : Warren Spring laboratory, on behalf of the Department, is assessing the emissions of volatile organic compounds to atmosphere and the options for their control. Work on unmodified, thermal and blown bitumens is not yet complete.
Column 787(2) what is the cost of the water authorities advertising in the current financial year both in total throughout the country and by region.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : The police have no powers to act against noise nuisance from premises. The Control of Pollution Act 1974 provides local authorities with adequate powers to control such nuisance.
Mr. Martyn Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) how shellfish structures or associated shore-based developments are classified under the planning system ; and if he will make a statement ;
(2) what powers he has to control the siting of shellfish farms and associated shore-based structures ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Chope : The breeding and keeping of livestock (which can include fish and shellfish) for the production of food falls within the definition of "agriculture" in section 290(1) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971. Class A of part 6 of schedule 2 to the Town and Country Planning General Development Order 1988 grants permitted development rights for the carrying out on agricultural land of building works or any excavation or engineering operations reasonably necessary for the purposes of agriculture, subject to a range of conditions. In national parks and some adjacent areas the exercise of some of these rights is subject to approval by the local planning authority.
Class C of part 6 grants additional permitted development rights to carry out operations to construct fishponds or other engineering operations on agricultural land for the purposes of a fish or shellfish farming business registered under the Diseases of Fish Act 1983, again subject to a range of conditions. Any fish or shellfish farming development that does not satisfy the conditions of part 6 requires specific planning permisson. The Department's consultation paper on possible new permitted development rights in the countryside, issued on 8 May, invited views on whether it would be desirable to curtail permitted development rights for fish farming in national parks. Responses to this consultation paper are now being considered.
Mr. Spearing : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list (a) instructions, (b) advice or (c) requests he has given to the Nature Conservancy Council, or other bodies, concerning the prohibition of or making agreements regarding shooting rights in environmentally sensitive areas together with the relevant dates ; what advice he sought or received from bodies with relevant interests ; and if he will make a statement.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : There is agreement between the Department and the NCC that traditional country rights and uses of land should be interfered with only where they are in conflict with conservation interests.
Mr. Patten : I am concerned at the tendency for factual environmental information to be treated as political statements. I am therefore exploring ways of ensuring that objective assessments of environmental issues are taken out of political dispute.
Mr. Boswell : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will establish an independent and authoritative national agency for monitoring and advising on environmental risk and regulatory performance.
Mr. Patten : Effective pollution control is best promoted through organisations tailor-made to regulate specific issues such as the National Rivers Authority, Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution and local pollution control agencies. There is no need for a new national agency.
Mr. Atkinson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when the Government are going to respond to the fourth report of the House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee on hazardous waste disposal.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : We are today publishing a full response to the Committee's report. We are pleased to note that there are many points on which the Committee support the Government's present policies and proposals for legislative change. In particular both the Government and the Committee have expressed concern over the waste disposal control framework, delays by local authorities in completing waste disposal plans, landfill gas management and the control of imports. These are all matters on which we have already made progress.
We could not accept the Committee's recommendations on certain issues such as the registration of hazardous waste producers and statutory regional groupings of waste disposal authorities. Our response has included the reasons.
We welcome the opportunity the Committee's fourth report has provided for discussing the important issues. The Government have made advance towards solving the problems and improving the system of control since the Committee last reported in 1981.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley [holding answer 10 April 1989] : The percentage of Calderdale's expenditure, as defined for the purposes of calculating grant, which is represented by rate support grant in each year from 1981 to 1988 is as follows :
- |Per cent. ------------------------------ 1981-82 |71 1982-83 |65 1983-84 |68 1984-85 |67 1985-86 |67 1986-87 |56 1987-88 |59 1988-89 |56
It is not possible to provide information for 1979-80 and 1980-81 in the form requested, as the rate support grant system used prior to 1981-82 did not separately identify grant paid in respect of districts and counties.
Mr. Malcolm Bruce : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what action he is taking to encourage the recycling of (a) used batteries, (b) household chemical wastes and (c) cloth ; and if he will make a statement.
Many batteries are already recycled. For example, some 80 per cent. of all lead acid automotive batteries are fully reclaimed. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry will be considering how to respond to the proposed European Community directive on batteries.
Advice on the disposal of awkward household wastes was published in 1974 by HMSO. This includes guidance on chemical waste reclamation. The recycling of textiles is a matter in the first instance for industry, which will encourage the recovery of all textiles for which there is a viable market.