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Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : In common with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, who is responsible for licensing of the disposal of waste at sea, I have had a number of letters and representations from members of the public about the disposal of liquid industrial wastes. None of the wastes concerned is toxic and nor do they contain more than trace elements of contaminants such as metals. Use of the sea disposal option for this type of waste has been reduced by 50 per cent. since 1980 and is expected to end within a very few years as practicable land-based alternatives become available.
Mr. Trippier : Arrangements for monitoring following an overseas nuclear accident, are set out in the booklet "The National Response Plan and Radioactive Incident Monitoring Network (RIMNET). Phase I". Copies of this booklet have been placed in the Library of the House. My right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Energy and for Wales, and my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland are responsible for making arrangements for dealing with accidents at civil nuclear sites in the United Kingdom.
Mr. Amos : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what measures Her Majesty's Government have taken since 1985 to lower the amount of lead in the atmosphere over Britain ; and with what results.
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : The main thrust of the Government's policy has been, and is, to tackle lead in petrol which still accounts for the bulk of lead in air. We reduced the maximum permitted lead content of petrol from 0.40 to 0.15 per litre from 31 December 1985, and have taken a number of steps to encourage the widest possible supply and use of unleaded petrol. In particular the introduction of the differential between the rates of duty on leaded and unleaded petrol has meant that 95-octane unleaded can normally be found some 12p a gallon cheaper than leaded four star.
As a result, airborne lead concentrations have fallen by some 50 per cent. between 1985 and 1988, the latest year for which complete figures are available, and the use of unleaded petrol has risen from 2 per cent. to 28 per cent. of the market within the last year. Vehicle regulations will ensure that uptake continues to rise. Since October 1989 all new models of cars have had to be capable of running on 95-octane unleaded petrol. This requirement will apply to all new cars from October 1990, and from 31 December 1992 all new cars will be fitted with catalysts and will have to use unleaded petrol.
Column 757Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave earlier to the hon. Member for Angus, East (Mr. Welsh).
97. Mr. Michael Brown : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what resources Her Majesty's Government are making available to international organisations and to other countries to assist and encourage environmental improvements.
|£ ---------------------------------------------------------------------- The United Nations Environment Programme |3,000,000 The Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change |750,000 The Convention and Protocol for the Protection of the Ozone Layer |83,000 The Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution |72,000 The OECD Chemicals Programme |52,000 The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance |14,000 The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals |41,000 CITES |<1>85,000 The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources |50,000 The European Environmental Bureau |5,000 <1> Approximately.
This is in addition to the general financial contributions by Government to the European Community, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the United Nations.
Government assistance to developing countries is provided through the aid programme which has as a central aim the promotion of sustainable development. Environmental issues are addressed in all projects and programmes under the aid programme, which is the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Minister for Overseas Development. On eastern Europe, we are working through the Group of 24 and the 300 million ecu aid fund established by the European Community.
Mr. Trippier : A sound and up-to-date planning framework is essential if we are to protect and improve the urban and rural environment. We have recently urged county planning authorities to revise and update their structure plans where necessary, and we are encouraging district planning authorities to extend the coverage of local plans. While plans must make adequate provision for necessary development, the decisions they embody about the distribution of new development can and should reflect communities' concerns for the protection of the local environment.
We also issued new draft planning advice last autumn which removes the previous strong presumption in favour of releasing land for housing development ; stresses the importance of good design in new housing schemes ; and encourages planning authorities to develop policies for the protection of existing residential areas, where their
Column 758character is threatened by excessive infilling and redevelopment. Such policies should be embodied in local plans.
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : I would refer the hon. and learned Member to the recently published terrestrial effects review group report which has chapters on the effects of air pollutants, including acid deposition, on trees. This report summarises current understanding and draws widely on research programmes funded by the DOE, NERC and Forestry Commission. Copies of the report can be found in the Library of the House.
Mr. Trippier : A total of 91 responses were received to the initial consultation paper on integrated pollution control which was published in July 1988. Further documents setting out our proposals for cost recovery charging and public access to information under integrated pollution control drew 53 and 74 responses respectively. The proposals for integrated pollution control, which will place the United Kingdom at the forefront of pollution control within Europe, have been welcomed across a broad spectrum of opinion.
102. Dr. Goodson-Wickes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps his Department is taking to support the selection of a site in the United Kingdom to host the proposed European Environment Agency.
Mr. Trippier : The Secretary of State for the Environment publicly stated his support for the proposed European Environment Agency to be located in Cambridge, and wrote to the European Commission in confirmation on 8 December 1989. Documentation advocating the merits of Cambridge has since been compiled which will shortly be forwarded to the European Council and the Commission.
Mr. Trippier : The Department is providing £3 million to support the work of the Tidy Britain Group in 1989-90. The grant was substantially increased over that provided in previous years specifically to finance the development of the group's pilot projects scheme and for preparations for 1990--Tidy Britain Year.
In view of the considerable amount of work generated by Tidy Britain Year and the success of the group's people
Column 759and places programme, the grant for 1990-91 has been set at £1.812 million. This is an increase of £1.2 million over the original PES planning figure of £612,000.
intergovernmental panel on climate change and our contribution to its scientific assessment will be enhanced by the establishment of the new climate change prediction centre. We are leading efforts to gain support for an international framework convention on climate change and hosting the second conference of the parties to the Montreal protocol at which we will press for the strengthening of the protocol to phase out the use and production of CFCs which are important greenhouse gases.
107. Mr. David Porter : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations have been made to him regarding provisions in the Environmental Protection Bill to separate local authority responsibilities for the management and regulation of the disposal of waste.
Mr. Trippier : I have received no representations regarding the provisions in the Environmental Protection Bill to separate local authority responsibilities for the management and regulation of the disposal of waste. But the responses to our consultative proposals to separate regulation from operation were generally favourable.
108. Mr. Andrew MacKay : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what percentage of planning appeals in (a) Bracknell and (b) Windsor and Maidenhead, have been granted during the last 12 months for which figures are available, and the two previous 12-month periods.
------------------------------------------- Bracknell 1986-87 |45 |18 |40.0 1987-88 |56 |18 |31.1 1988-89 |58 |18 |31.0 Windsor and Maidenhead 1986-87 |130 |64 |49.2 1987-88 |131 |68 |51.9 1988-89 |189 |64 |33.9
Mr. Trippier : Grant in aid to English Heritage in 1984-85 was £49.9 million. The provisional allocation for 1991-92 is £79.816 million. In the intervening years English Heritage has taken on additional responsibilities--notably the Greater London Council's historic buildings division and historic house museums--which makes direct comparisons between 1984-85 and 1991-92 misleading. Nevertheless, the figures reflect steady increases in grant in aid and confirm the Government's strong commmitment to assist the preservation and protection of the nation's important heritage assets.
Mr. Trippier : We have allocated an additional £3 million to English Heritage in 1990-91 and an extra £3.02 million in 1991-92 taking the total grant in aid in each of those two years to £77.977 million and £79.816 million (provisional) respectively.
These substantial increases signal the Government's recognition of the importance of our heritage to the quality of life and the contribution it makes to a healthy tourism industry. They mean that English Heritage will be able to build on its successful record in several different ways. It plans to invest more in the maintenance and presentation of its key historic sites, already a source of significant enjoyment and education for an increasing number of adults and youngsters.
We are particularly pleased that some of the increase is being earmarked for preparatory work on the proposed new visitor centre at Stonehenge. Recent agreement with the Ministry of Defence on an access route to the centre has ended a long period of uncertainty and concern. English Heritage will now be directing its energies wholeheartedly towards the preparation of detailed proposals for visitor facilities worthy of this outstandingly important monument. Other areas of English Heritage's responsibilities which will benefit from the extra resources include archaeology and the review of lists of historic buildings produced in the early 1970s.
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : The latest information on water losses, which includes water lost by leakage, was published in the prospectus "The Water Share Offers", a copy of which is available in the Library.
Mr. Andrew F. Bennett : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps have been taken under the Wildlife and Countryside Act to protect limestone pavements ; and what further steps he intends to take.
Mr. Trippier : Under the provisions of section 34 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, county planning authorities may make orders designating land containing limestone pavements and prohibiting the removal or
Column 761disturbance of limestone on or in it. To date, 12 orders have been made. The system is working satisfactorily and we have no plans for additional protective measures.
Mr. David Shaw : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he has now received replies from all the dolphinaria operators in the United Kingdom regarding their plans to implement the new standards ; and what action he proposes to take.
Mr. Trippier : One dolphinaria operator has supplied full details of its plans for the implementation of new standards. The Department is awaiting replies from the remainder. A reminder has been sent and we shall continue to press for full responses from all operators. The steering group report on dolphinaria, published in August 1988, and endorsed by Ministers, made it clear that failure to reach the required standards by August 1993 would constitute grounds for revoking an operator's display exemption.
Mr. Trippier : The standards recommended by the departmental steering group set up to review Dr. Klinowska's report on dolphinaria, and endorsed by Ministers in August 1988, state that no single specimen of any species of cetacea may be kept. We would therefore expect any dolphinarium which held a single specimen to take appropriate steps to remedy the situation as soon as practicable.
Mr. Morgan : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what action has been taken to implement the recommendation of the dolphinaria steering group report regarding the provision of guidance on educational criteria for displaying cetacea in captivity.
Mr. Trippier : Several items recommended by the dolphinaria steering group, including the provision of guidance on educational criteria for displaying cetacea, raise scientific and technical questions on which we intend to seek appropriate specialist advice.
Mrs. Ann Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) how many (a) consents and (b) authorisations have been made subject to any conditions in accordance with section 152(4) or (5) of the Water Act 1989 ;
(2) how many (a) consents and (b) authorisations he has made for the disposal of land, or rights or interests in or over any land, in accordance with section 152(3) of the Water Act 1989 ; (3) how many requests he has received for his (a) consent or (b) general authorisation for the disposal of land, or of any interest or right in or over any land, in accordance with section 152(2) of the Water Act 1989 ;
(4) if he will list the location of all land, or the nature and location of any right or interest in or over any land, which has been subject to a request for consent for disposal in accordance with section 152(2) of the Water Act 1989,
Column 762specifying which have received his consent or general authorisation under section 152(4), and what if any conditions were attached under section 152(4) and (5) ;
(5) on how many occasions he has had an opportunity to enter into covenant with a company holding an appointment under chapter I of part II of the Water Act 1989 for the purposes set out in section 152(7) of that Act ; how many covenants have been entered into ; on how many occasions he has declined to enter such covenants ; and what were the reasons in each case.
Mr. Trippier : The Secretary of State has received one application for specific consent to dispose of land, or rights or interests in or over any land, under section 152 of the Water Act 1989. Consent has been given. This permits the sale of two areas of land at Bamford in the Peak District national park by Severn Trent Water. The disposal is subject to condition K of Severn Trent's appointment. The Countryside Commission, after consultation with the Peak Park joint planning board, raised no objection to an unconditional sale. No covenant was therefore required.
The Secretary of State has not entered into any covenants under section 152(7) or declined any recommendation that he should do so. The Secretary of State has issued two general authorisations under section 152 to each appointed water undertaker which allow disposal of land if certain conditions are satisfied. These concern application of the Crichel Down rules to compulsorily purchased land, and protection for land in national parks, the Broads, areas of outstanding natural beauty, and sites of special scientific interest. In all cases there is a requirement to satisfy condition K of their licences which relates to ring fencing, disposals of land, and changes of use of land. I am placing copies of the authorisations in the Library. No further general authorisations have been requested. Land disposals under the general authorisations do not require the Secretary of State's consent.
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : The primary responsibility for preventing oil pollution at sea lies with the owners and operators of ships, offshore installations, pipelines, refineries and other industries whose operation have the potential for a damaging impact. In the light of improving technology for reducing waste discharges, regulatory standards for these activities are continually under review and, on an international basis, in fora such as the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in the case of shipping and the Paris Commission for land-based discharges. In the case of preventing damage from oil pollution at sea, the United Kingdom has well tried and tested arrangements co-ordinated by the marine pollution control unit of the Department of Transport. The recent initiative within IMO to develop an oil spill convention will consider how such arrangements can be improved on a worldwide basis.
Column 763Mr. Moynihan : Guidance on disposals by Government Departments of land which is surplus to their requirements is given in chapter 32 of "Government Accounting--A guide of Accounting and Financial Procedures for the Use of Government Departments", and in a Treasury letter to accounting officers (DAO 4/88).
Local authorities have a general power under section 123(1) of the Local Government Act 1972 to dispose of land. However, subsection (2) of that section requires them to obtain consent from the Secretary of State for the Environment for any proposed disposal at less than the best consideration reasonably obtainable. My Department has from time to time issued advice by circular to local authorities about particular issues relating to land disposals.
Dr. Kim Howells : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) what are the water service guidelines for all member countries laid out by the EEC Commission on new connections for sewerage service ;
(2) what EEC guidelines are laid out for member countries' water services in reference to service response time to sewerage problems ;
(3) what EEC guidelines are laid out for member countries' water services in reference to sewage flooding ;
(4) what guidelines are set out by the EEC Commission for its member nations' water services with reference to customer contact by telephone calls, correspondence and appointments.
(2) what codes of practice are required of member states by the EEC Commission in their handling of complaints and commendations on their water services ;
(3) what standards are required by the EEC Commission of its member nations in their sewage works' control of odours and effluent discharges ;
(4) what standards, in terms of summary details and measurements used, are required of member states by the EEC Commission for the availability of raw water in the supply system ;
(5) what standards, in terms of summary details and measurements used, are required of member states by the EEC Commission for the water pressure of their water supplies ;
(6) what standards, in terms of summary details and measurements used, are required of member states by the EEC Commission for the restoration of clean water after the interruption of that service.
Column 764(2) which governmental bodies decide what the water standard will be for each member country of the EEC ;
(3) which governmental body within each EEC member country determines water service prices ; how these prices are constructed ; and if he will give details of pricing policy and price construction on a member country basis.
Dr. Kim Howells : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what, in terms of bandings and representative national averages, are the unit prices of (a) water, (b) sewerage and (c) trade effluence for all member states of the EEC.
Mr. Bermingham : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what measures he intends to take in response to findings of significant increases in the levels of emission of naturally occurring radon gas ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Trippier : There have been no findings of significant increases in the levels of emission of naturally occurring radon gas. I announced on 19 January that the Government accept the National Radiological Protection Board's advice on the risks to health associated with exposure to radon, and endorse its recommendation that action should be taken in houses where the radon concentration exceeds 200 bq/cu m. I have arranged for a copy of the National Radiological Protection Board's advice to be placed in the Library.
Mr. Blunkett : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment on what date the contracts of those local government officers regarded as politically restricted under section 2 of the Local Government and Housing Act will incorporate those restrictions prescribed by him under section 1(5) of the Act.
Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he intends to keep open the option of compulsorily transferring the Property Services Agency's executive, administrative and support staff to the Government-owned company.
Mr Chope [pursuant to his reply, 22 January 1990, c. 582-83] : If PSA is incorporated as a Government-owned company it is intended that the staff in it will be transferred under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 1981. The PSA will use its best endeavours, in advance of that incorporation, to find other posts within Government for staff who do not wish to transfer.
Mr. Wigley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will introduce legislation to ensure that dogs are taken into care prior to any court hearing when an allegation of cruelty is made against a dog owner.
The court has power to make such an order after an offender has been convicted of cruelty to an animal ; but we have no plans to provide for the prior removal of the animal.
Mr. Malcolm Bruce : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the prevalence of flatworms from New Zealand in soil ; what assessment he has made of the potential damage to soil the presence of this worm presents ; and what action he proposes to take to protect soil fertility.
Agricultural Departments are aware of the press reports. These worms need damp conditions and are unlikely to survive in well drained agricultural land. They appear to be established in Northern Ireland and there have been sporadic sightings in Scotland over a considerable length of time. The latest recorded sighting in England was in 1965. The Department of Agriculture for Northern Ireland is studying ways of controlling them.