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Mr. Howard : Section 8 of the Water Act confers duties on the water companies in respect of all their land to further conservation, protect the landscape and public access and provide for recreation. These duties are enforceable by the Secretary of State who has approved a statutory code of practice, debated in the House in July, on conservation, access and recreation which gives guidance to companies on the performance of these duties and promotes good practice.
Section 152 of the Water Act further provides that water companies may not dispose of land in national parks, the Broads, areas of outstanding natural beauty or sites of special scientific interest without the consent of the Secretary of State or in accordance with a general authorisation ; and that the Secretary of State may require that such land be first offered for sale to a suitable conservation body or that it be indefinitely protected by convenants or management agreements.
Column 712Barn Elms reservoir was notified as an SSSI in 1975 under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949. I understand that the Nature Conservancy Council, which is responsible for this matter, is considering the representations it has received about its proposal announced in 1988 to denotify the reservoir as an SSSI. If Barn Elms reservoir remains an SSSI it will fall within the scope of the controls under section 152 relating to disposals of environmentally sensitive land.
The safeguards are in addition to the ordinary protection afforded by planning legislation.
The Secretary of State will consider the points made before he makes his final decisions on the settlement.
Mr. David Hunt : A wide range of action is being undertaken under the Government's Action for Cities initiative to revive our inner cities. Expenditure under the initiative has increased from £3 billion in 1988 -89 to £3.5 billion in 1989-90. In developing our policies for the future we will seek to develop a genuine partnership between all those involved in the regeneration of their areas. On 6 December I announced the formation of a new ministerial team to spearhead and co-ordinate action in the inner cities. Each city action team and inner city task force will have its own Minister committed to advising and assisting the CAT in its vital regeneration work.
Column 713Mr. Moynihan : One city grant project providing dwellings specifically for rent has so far been approved--the construction of 22 flats at Coach lane, North Shields.
Mr. Moynihan : Applications for city grant are invited from three of the five local authority areas in West Yorkshire. The new grant has been very successful since its introduction in May 1988 and the available resources are being fully utilised by projects within the areas from which applications are invited.
Mr. Trippier : My right hon. Friend has regular meetings with representatives of the local authorities to discuss local authority finance, including the case for additional spending. In addition we have considered carefully the responses from local authorities to the several consultation papers issued by my Department proposing legislation to improve the effectiveness of local pollution control.
41. Mr. Andrew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what amount of money is allocated for improvement grants for the year 1989-90 ; what amount is proposed for the year 1990-91 ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Chope : We make general allocations to local authorities to cover spending on the whole range of housing activities. Within their total resources, and the requirements of the housing legislation, councils are free to decide how much to devote to improvement grants, and how much to other purposes.
42. Mr. Meale : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what provisions he intends to make on the drawing up on the next 10 years strategic plans to ensure that rural development is adequately provided for ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Moynihan : A framework for planning at the local level will be provided by regional guidance and revised and simplified strategic plans. We have already issued guidance to help metropolitan and London authorities prepare unitary development plans. For other areas, a planning policy guidance note issued for consultation on 27 November encourages county councils to prepare advice for the Secretary of State on regional planning issues and to review their structure plans. These will include policies on the rural economy, based on current Departmental advice.
43. Mr. Barry Field : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has to ensure that developers take full account of environmental considerations and consult with relevant environmental authorities before embarking on development programmes.
Mr. Moynihan : Local planning authorities are required to consult a wide range of bodies on planning applications and to take all material considerations into account when deciding whether to grant planning permission. These provisions have been widened and strengthened by the Town and Country Planning (Assessment of Environmental Effects) Regulations 1988 under which applicants must provide environmental statements for projects which are likely to have significant environmental effects ; the Nature Conservancy Council and Countryside Commission must be consulted about all applications to which these regulations apply. While there are no statutory requirements for developers to consult public bodies with environmental responsibilities prior to submission of planning applications, developers are advised (for example in my Department's recently published booklet "Environmental Assessment--A Guide to the Procedures") to undertake such consultations so as to ensure that schemes are designed with environmental considerations in mind.
44. Mr. Buckley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what information he has on the number of homeless people in the area of the Wakefield district council ; what action has been prepared to help these people ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Chope : The City of Wakefield metropolitan district council reported 832 households as having been accepted as homeless during the period from the third quarter of 1988 to the second quarter of 1989.
Homelessness was one of the issues discussed by officials of my Department and representatives of the authority at a meeting last month to discuss the council's housing investment programme submission. It is one of the factors taken into account in making the HIP allocations, being announced this week.
47. Mr. Wilshire : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list the new measures of protection the water consumer will now have available as a result of the completion of water privatisation.
Mr. Howard : The Water Act 1989 established a new regulatory framework to accompany privatisation which will ensure the protection of customers in respect of the quality and standard of service they receive and the price they pay.
These measures include the establishment of a new National Rivers Authority, separate from the companies, with direct responsibility for the health of the water environment and regulation of environmental standards, and the introduction of a new drinking water inspectorate which will help ensure that the new legal standards for drinking water quality are met.
A new independent regulator of the water and sewerage industry, the director general of water services has been appointed. His main tasks are to enforce the new system of economic regulation of the industry and to protect the interests of customers.
Companies will be subject to a new system of price control. Customers' interests will be protected in respect of the charges they pay as these will be limited in the first instance by the K factors set by the Secretary of State. It will be the director general's responsibility to ensure that these K factors continue to reflect correctly the obligations imposed on the companies. He will also have a duty to ensure that the prices fixed by the companies are fair between different classes of customers, so that domestic and industrial customers both pay their fair share.
The director general will also be responsible for monitoring the companies' performance in providing satisfactory levels of customer service and for ensuring that they comply with the conditions under which they are appointed. These provide amongst other things that the companies prepare and publish codes of practice for customers setting out the services to be provided and to publish codes of practices on disconnections and on leakage. A guaranteed standards scheme has been established setting out certain standards for day-to-day relations between companies and domestic customers. If standards are not met then customers will be entitled to a payment or credit of £5. In addition companies are required to prepare asset management plans and submit them to the director general. This provides an assurance to customers that companies have made long-term plans for the maintenance of their underground assets and for the expenditure and investment required to maintain and improve their systems. Customer service committees will be established to represent customers' interests in each of the ten regions. The CSC's, who will report to the director-general, will be able to investigate complaints and report on any matter which appears to them to affect customer's interests.
Privatisation will also provide a spur to greater efficiency and thus benefit the consumer.
92. Mr. Brandon-Bravo : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the total value of the planned investment programme over the next 10 years of the privatised water companies in England and Wales.
Column 716England and Wales, required by the programmes of which account was taken by the Secretaries of State in setting the initial levels of K, is £24.6 billion in prices prevailing at November 1989.
Mr. Trippier : The science review working group of the WMO/UNEP intergovernmental panel on climate change, chaired by the United Kingdom, is assessing the requirements for monitoring with regard to global warming and climate change. The Government will take the panel's report, due in the autumn of 1990, into account in planning appropriate monitoring programmes.
Mr. Trippier : Assessments of the effect of fertiliser use, including those containing nitrates, on the emission of nitrous oxide from soil have been made but are subject to great uncertainty. The state of understanding of emissions and future concentrations of all the major greenhouse gases is one of the topics included in the science review, chaired by the United Kingdom, of the
intergovernmental panel on climate change which will report in the autumn of 1990.
Mr. Trippier : No representations have been made recently. However, the Government are working actively to encourage the adoption of environmentally sound and sustainable policies in eastern European countries. To assist with this my Department has just announced a contribution of £50,000 for the east Europe programme of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Efforts are being pursued specifically through the group of 24 and its working groups on aid to Poland and Hungary and also through the 300 million ecu aid fund for these countries established by the European Community. We are urging that pollution surveys should be undertaken in Poland and Hungary as a first step in establishing an environmentally-sound base for sustainable aid in those countries.
Mr. Trippier : The United Kingdom is committed to reduce sulphur dioxide emissions from existing large plants by 20 per cent. by 1993, 40 per cent. by 1998 and 60 per cent. by 2003. Meeting this commitment will involve a range of measures by United Kingdom industry, including
Column 717retrofitting at least 12,000 MW of electricity generating capacity with flue gas desulphurisation equipment. The Central Electricity Generating Board has already begun to retrofit Drax power station, which contributes one-eighth of CEBG output, but the retrofit will not be completed until after 1992.
Mr. Trippier : The expenditure by the Department on environmental research is planned to increase by 20.6 per cent. in 1992-93 over the current year, amounting to an increase of £7.4 million over the provision for the current year of £36 million. Of this increase, £5.2 million is planned for the next financial year.
Mr. Moynihan : We have made available £17.5 million grant-in- aid to Sheffield development corporation between its designation in June 1988 and the end of March 1990. A further £19 million has been allocated for 1990-91.
It is estimated that private sector investment totalling nearly £200 million will have been committed to developments within the corporation's area by the end of the current financial year.
58. Mr. Bright : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what information he has on the problems caused for Luton by outside local authorities housing homeless people in the borough who subsequently become eligible for housing by the borough council.
64. Mr. Allen McKay : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what information he has on the number of homeless people in the area of Barnsley district council ; what action he is prepared to take to help these people ; and if he will make a statement.
Column 718metropolitan borough council as homeless during the period from the third quarter of 1988 to the second quarter of 1989 was 160. Homelessness in the area was discussed at a meeting between councillors and officers of Barnsley metropolitan borough council and officials of my Department in early October to discuss the council's housing investment programme submission, and is one of the factors involved in making decisions on the housing investment programme allocations for 1990-91, being announced this week.
The figures for the latest quarter ending 30 June 1989 are in the Library.
Mr. Chope : The Housing Corporation, which provides grants and loans to housing associations, will receive an additional £36 million in 1990-91, and £37 million in 1991-92, as part of the Government's homelessness initiative. This is additional to the Housing Corporation's main programme of capital expenditure, in the distribution of which a high priority is given to schemes designed to alleviate homelessness.
105. Mr. Kirkwood : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what assessment he has made of the likely effect of his recent announcement on homelessness, 15 November, Official Report, columns 243-44, on those who are currently sleeping rough.
Mr. Chope : It is too early to say what will happen to particular groups of people. We have invited bids from local authorities and housing associations, for the £250 million of extra resources we have made available to tackle problems of homelessness in the pressure areas, and we are also inviting charitable, and voluntary organisations to apply for further resources to intensify and improve their services to people who are actually or potentially homeless.
60. Mr. Pendry : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he is satisfied that the necessary technology exists to implement the Government's identification card scheme for association football.
Column 719Mr. Moynihan : The working party which was set up by the football authorities to undertake preparatory work for the national membership scheme has issued an invitation to tender to the seven companies and consortia which are bidding for the contract to operate the scheme. It will be for the Football Membership Authority to decide on the technology on which the scheme should be based and to ensure that it has been tested properly.
Mr. Chope : The Government have taken a variety of measures to encourage the supply of rented housing, including the deregulation of private letting and the encouragement of private investment in housing associations. In addition public funding for the Housing Corporation is being substantially increased from £815 million this year to £1,736 million by 1992-93, mainly for the development of new rented housing by housing associations.
Mr. Heathcoat- Amory : The Government have no such plans at present, but my Department and the Department of Trade and Industry will be monitoring closely the results of the "Recycling City" experiment in Sheffield which involves the issue to several thousand households of blue bins for the purpose of segregating recyclable waste. If successful it is hoped that the experiment, which is receiving Government support, will be widely replicated.
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : My Department is currently considering adding recycling to the categories of project eligible for support under the environmental protection technology (EPT) scheme which encourages the development of environmentally responsible technologies. In addition my Department and the Department of Trade and Industry are supporting a range of studies and research projects relating to waste recycling and the "Recycling City" project in Sheffield in which several thousand households are participating.
Mr. Trippier : My right hon. Friend has at present no plans to visit the "Recycling City" project in Sheffield, but I opened the kerbside collection stage of the project on 21 November. The project will be closely monitored by my Department and the Department of Trade and Industry.
Mr. Trippier : I am pleased to say that agreement has recently been reached between the Ministry of Defence and English Heritage about an access route, across MOD land, to the site of the proposed new visitor centre at Larkhill West, just north of Stonehenge. There remains a considerable amount of detailed preparation and planning work to be done but I know that English Heritage will now be directing their energies wholeheartedly, in discussion with MOD, the local authorities and other interested parties, towards making significant early progress with these next stages.
English Heritage's aim is to develop a visitor centre worthy of Stonehenge's international importance as a world heritage site and a major attraction to tourists. It hopes that the centre will cater for up to 1 million visitors each year and plans to include a full, imaginative interpretation of Stonehenge using the latest exhibition techniques to inform visitors. In recognition of the importance which the Government attach to the development of appropriate visitor facilities at Stonehenge, we included in the £3 million additional funding which we are allocating to English Heritage in 1990-91 a sum of £500,000 to enable extra resources to be used to be put into working up the project as rapidly as possible.
66. Mr. James Lamond : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what has been the increase in salaries for chief executives and chairmen of the water authorities over the past two years and since flotation.
Mr. Howard : The chairmen of the English water authorities, and those chief executives appointed to the authorities' boards by the Secretary of State, received salary increases of between 8.7 per cent. and 10.1 per cent. With effect from 1 July 1988 and an increase of 7.5 per cent. with effect from 1 July 1989. The salaries of chief executives who were not board members were a matter for the authorities themselves. Following the flotation directors' salaries as well as staff salaries are now for the privatised companies to determine. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales was responsible for approving the salaries of the chairman and chief executive of the Welsh Water Authority.
Mr. Trippier : I shall continue to encourage householders, businesses and everyone else to take a responsible attitude towards litter, wherever it might be. We are currently looking at ways to involve commercial frontagers in the cleaning up of their immediate environment.
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : We have received 1,600 ministerial letters and 2,500 letters from members of the public which expressed a wide range of opinions on the subject of dog registration. The same was true of the 300 responses received to the consultation paper.