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Column 242catchment, the Norfolk Broads, and the Worcestershire Stour ; and schemes to improve other rivers such as the Tame to the north-east of Birmingham, the Surrey Blackwater, the lower Nene, and the Hampshire Avon.
Company |£ million --------------------------------- Thames |41 Wessex |18 South West |- Anglian |42 Southern |10 North West |130 Northumbrian |- Yorkshire |60 Severn Trent |194 Welsh | 27.3
Mr. Radice : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what surveys of the views, opinions and attitudes of the staff of his Department have been carried out in the last two years ; and if he will place copies of the findings in the Library.
Mr. Baldry : No such surveys have been conducted across my Department. Small-scale surveys have been conducted in two operational units comprising in total about 500 staff, the results of which are confidential to management and the staff concerned.
Mr. Atkins : The consultation paper suggested that new research is necessary. Tenders have recently been invited for a research project on water economy which includes an evaluation of various flushing devices including flushing valves.
Mr. Atkins : The Countryside Commission submitted to the Secretary of State its supplementary report outlining revised proposals for the bridleway on 1 July last year. Following further necessary consultation, I am presently considering the matter and I expect to anounce my decision shortly.
Mr. Hunter : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will introduce legislation to ensure that droveways fall within the right of way in common law known as bridleways ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Atkins : I am not convinced that legislation is either necessary or appropriate. At common law, not every droveway is also a bridleway, and not every bridleway is also subject to the right to drive beasts. Where there is a public right of way for vehicles, bridleway and droveway rights would normally be included. However where, for
Column 243example, old maps show a route as a "droveway", or "driftway", it is not to be assumed from that alone that a public right of way for vehicles also exists. In all cases where the correct classification of a public right of way is in issue, all available and relevant evidence must be considered to establish the exact nature of the rights the public have acquired.
Mr. Atkins : The four-year study into the health effects of sea bathing, commissioned by the Department and others, and published in January this year included children's health. In the main part of the investigation, 52 per cent. of swimmers and 31 per cent. of paddlers studied in the beach surveys were children of 5 to 14 years.
Mr. Ainger : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many requests for information his Department has received under the Access to Environmental Information Regulations 1992 ; how many were answered within two months ; how many were refused ; and on what grounds in each case.
In the period up to 30 June 1994, the Department refused 13 requests. One refusal arose from the Department's inability to respond within the two- month time limit. The remaining refusals related to the following grounds-- some refusals covered more than one ground : commercial confidentiality (3), international relations (1), national security (1), legal or other proceedings (4), requested information not held (1), request considered manifestly unreasonable (1), incomplete documents (2), confidential deliberations (2) and internal communica-tions (2).
Mr. Atkins : My Department is currently reviewing and assessing what future research on the effects of air pollution on materials is required. Following the recommendations of a consultancy undertaken by the University of East Anglia for the Department, a workshop is being held later this month in London with leading United Kingdom researchers in the field. It is envisaged that priority areas for future research on materials will be identified in this workshop.
Mr. Atkins : My Department has funded research at the Building Research Establishment, Middlesex university, Queens university Belfast and University of Manchester institute of science and technology. Such research has, for example, examined the soiling of materials and the erosion effects from NOx, nitrates and SO on materials. A consultancy was also undertaken by the University of East Anglia which reviewed current United Kingdom research into the effects of air pollution on materials.
Mr. Luff To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what changes were made to the external finance limits for the urban development corporations in 1993-94.
Mr. Baldry : Changes were announced in my answers of 8 June 1993, Official Report, column 196 and 1 November 1993, Official Report, column 5. In addition amendments were made during 1993-94 to the external finance limits for the Plymouth, Black Country and Birmingham Heartlands development corporations.
These comprised a £1,000,000 reduction for Plymouth development corporation arising from unavoidable project delays and corresponding increases of £400,000 for a relocation project at Birmingham Heartlands development corporation and £600,000 towards the Moxley- Lunt link road project at Black Country development corporation.
Overall there has been no change in the funding of the urban development corporation programme.
Mr. Curry : The planning aspects of the draft regulations which were laid before Parliament on 4 July 1994 implement the assessment and decision -making requirements of the habitats directive in respect of the land use planning system in England and Wales and in Scotland.
The main amendments made to planning legislation by the regulations are to :
(a) restrict the granting of planning permission for development which is likely significantly to affect a Special Protection Area (SPA) designated under the Birds Directive or a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) to be classified under the Habitats Directive ; (
(b) require the review of existing planning permissions which have not been fully implemented and which are likely significantly to affect a designated SPA or an SAC when it is classified, and if necessary the taking of appropriate action ;
(c) prevent the General Development Order (and the General Permitted Development Order in Scotland) granting permitted development rights which will adversely affect the integrity of an SPA or SAC ;
(d) prevent other existing and future development orders, simplified planning zone schemes and enterprise zone schemes from granting permission for development which is likely significantly to affect an SPA or SAC.
The regulations are not a new departure for planning so much as a reinforcement of our existing approach. We have a firm and well-established framework for safeguarding the natural heritage, which has been strengthened significantly in recent years. This framework enables us to protect nationally and internationally important sites in terms that
Column 245are broadly consistent with the habitats directive. The regulations will ensure that we comply fully with its requirements.
We will provide advice on the regulations in the planning policy guidance note on nature conservation for local planning authorities in England. The PPG will be published after Parliament has approved the regulations. My right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Scotland and for Wales will be providing separate advice for local planning authorities in Scotland and in Wales.
Under the provision referred to at (b), it is possible that a local authority might exceptionally need to make an order to modify or revoke a planning permission or discontinue a use of land. We expect any such orders to be rare, because of the protection already afforded to important nature conservation sites, and because an order would be needed only if a development would adversely affect the integrity of the site and a satisfactory planning obligation could not be reached. An order would take effect when served, but would be subject to confirmation by the appropriate Secretary of State. The existing entitlement under planning law to compensation in connection with modification, revocation and discontinuance orders would apply, as would the liability on the local authority to pay it. The Government would, however, consider reimbursing a local authority if the compensation costs were high and the action taken was no more than was necessary to overcome the adverse effects of the planning permission. It would not meet the costs of an authority which unreasonably served an order which was not subsequently confirmed by the Secretary of State.
We are grateful to those who responded to the consultation paper on amending the General Development Order--see (c)--which we issued last year for England and Wales. Copies of their responses have been placed in the Department of the Environment library, and a summary and list of them have been deposited in the Libraries of the House of Commons and House of Lords. The amendments in the draft regulations would mean that permitted development rights would not be available for any development which was likely significantly to affect an SPA or SAC, unless the local authority had decided that it would not adversely affect the integrity of the site. A developer who was uncertain about whether a proposal would be likely to have a significant effect on an SPA or SAC would be able to obtain an opinion from English Nature or the Countryside Council for Wales. The consultation paper also covered our proposal to remove permitted development rights for development requiring environmental assessment under the 1988 EA regulations ; we will be announcing our decision on this separately.
As well as amending planning legislation, the draft regulations amend highways legislation to achieve similar results to (a) and (b) above for road construction or improvement projects proposed by the Secretary of State. They also amend the Pipe-lines Act 1962, the Electricity Act 1989 and the Transport and Works Act 1992 to make similar provisions in relation to the construction of generating stations and the installation of electric lines above ground ; the construction and diversion of pipelines ; and the construction of transport systems, inland waterways and works interfering with rights of navigation.
Mr. Carrington : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a further announcement about the implementation of the Local Government Commission's recommendations for the establishment of four unitary authorities in Cleveland following the High Court judgment on 28 June.
Mr. Curry : The High Court judgment has now been given on the legal challenges by Avon, Somerset and Cleveland county councils against the Local Government Commission and the Government in respect of the Commission's recommendations for new local government structures in Avon, Somerset and Cleveland. I hope all authorities will study it closely before embarking on any further litigation.
The delay caused by this case has led me to reconsider the timing of the establishment of unitary authorities in Cleveland. In an answer on 11 May, column 170, I said that our intention to transfer county functions to unitary districts in Cleveland on 1 April 1995 was subject to the outcome of the judicial review case. At that stage we did not know when the judgment was likely to be made. I am mindful of the need to ensure a smooth transition, with an adequate time for the planning of change. It is of paramount importance that there should be no risk to the delivery of essential services in the areas concerned. In view of the relatively short time that would be available between the making of an order and a start date for unitary authorities of 1 April 1995, I have decided that it would be in the best interests of the inhabitants of Cleveland to establish the four unitary authorities as from 1 April 1996, with elections to be held in May 1995, for councillors who will plan for change and then become councillors of the unitary authorities once they are established. I will very shortly send the local authorities in Cleveland a draft order, incorporating these revised dates, for comment.
Mr. Stewart : As indicated when I met the hon. Gentleman and delegates from Blindcraft, the National League for the Blind and Disabled and Strathclyde social work department recently, the Local Government etc. (Scotland) Bill includes provision for the transfer of property, assets, liabilities and obligations to the relevant successor authority. We propose that any obligations which a local authority has in respect of workshops for blind and disabled people will be transferred to the appropriate new authority from 1 April 1996.
Mr. McMaster : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when he last met representatives of ENABLE to discuss issues affecting disabled people ; when he next plans to meet them ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Stewart [holding answer 1 July 1994] : Scottish Office officials met representatives of ENABLE to discuss a range of issues in September 1993. My noble and learned Friend the Minister of State expects to meet an all-party group on disability and disablement in the next few weeks.
Mr. Stewart : New regional councils were elected in Scotland in May to serve for two years until the two-tier system of local government is replaced in 1996 by a single tier of all-purpose authorities.
16. Mrs. Ewing : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when he expects to make public the findings of the review group appointed in March 1993 and established to look at the ownership and management of woodlands ; and if he will make a statement on the development of forestry policy.
Sir Hector Monro : The Forestry Commission fells and replants about 8,000 hectares of woodland each year. Last year the Commission gave approval for 13,000 hectares of privately-owned woodland to be felled over the next five years. Practically all the woodlands which are felled will be replanted.
17. Mr. McAllion : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what discussions he has had this year with the Scottish Trades Union Congress relating to the level of investment in the Scottish economy.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : The Scottish Office industry department has received six applications from local roads authorities requesting my right hon. Friend's consent to allow them to make 20 mph speed limit orders. My right hon. Friend has authorised four of them to date.
Mr. Allan Stewart : The Scottish ambulance service has applied to become an NHS trust in order to improve further the services that it provides to patients. Its application is at present subject to public consultation which will be completed by 18 August. A decision on the application will be taken thereafter by my right hon. Friend on whether to approve NHS trust status in light of all the comments received in response to the consultation process.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : Her Majesty's inspectors of schools include drugs education within their normal programmes of school inspection. They also hold regular discussions with education authorities about health education, including drugs education, policies. Responsibility for the content of the school curriculum rests with education authorities and individual head teachers.
Mr. Stewart : My right hon. Friend continues to receive a range of representations about the Government's proposals for local government reform in Scotland. Since January, I have met 27 hon. Members who accompanied delegations.
Mr. Stewart : My right hon. Friend last met the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities on 28 January 1994. The convention did not raise any issues relating to local government reform at that meeting.
Mr. Stewart : As I told the hon. Member for Glasgow, Pollok (Mr. Dunnachie) on 25 May, Official Report, column 205, my right hon. Friend and I will be meeting COSLA representatives on 22 July as part of the normal consultation on local government finance matters.
27. Mr. McAvoy : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what priority he gives to clearing up contaminated land when considering financial allocations to Scottish Enterprise and Glasgow development agency.
Mr. Stewart : My right hon. Friend has made it clear, in his strategic and policy guidance to Scottish Enterprise, that its main priority in environmental matters is the eradication of environmental dereliction ; and that there remains the need to tackle systematically and rationally the problems of dereliction and contamination. He expects that schemes which combine environmental improvements with economic gains should generally merit priority ; and that schemes which remove health or other hazards should be given priority over comparable projects with no such impact.
My right hon. Friend takes these factors into account, along with others, in making resources available to Scottish Enterprise each year. Day-to-day decisions on the relative priority and resources to be afforded to particular schemes or projects are, however, a matter for Scottish Enterprise and the local enterprise companies, in the light of my right hon. Friend's strategic guidance.
The allocation of resources to Glasgow development agency is a matter for Scottish Enterprise.
Mr. Lang : Following the routes south of Edinburgh consultation in 1989-90, work on the A7 in Scotland is being taken forward in three sections. From the border to Hawick, a route action plan has been published and two significant road improvement schemes are currently being constructed to provide safe overtaking stretches on the section. From Hawick to Galashiels a report has been prepared by consultants to examine the opportunity to
Column 250improve safe overtaking provision. North of Galashiels, following views expressed by environmental bodies during the routes south of Edinburgh consultation, consultants have examined whether a new road could be constructed without unacceptable environmental consequences. The consultants work on these latter two sections is now being assessed by my officials.
Mr. Stewart : Since the announcement of the "Front Line First" study on 1 December 1993 by my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Defence, I have received 145 representations about military establishments in Scotland.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : Responsibility for vehicle safety matters throughout the United Kingdom rests with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport. His Department has recently completed a review of the technical and cost implications of fitting seat belts to all minibuses and coaches, and related safety matters. Decisions on the outcome of that review will be announced shortly.
Mr. Stewart : My right hon. Friend receives, from time-to-time, representations about alleged corrupt practices by Scottish local authorities. All such representations are carefully considered in the context of the statutory powers available to my right hon. Friend, and complainants are informed of forms of redress available--for example, the courts, the Commission for Local Authority Accounts in Scotland, and the local government ombudsman.
Column 251facilities required in north Tayside. I understand that the board is considering using Meigle hospital as a base for enhanced community health services which will include :
Extended District Nursing and Health Visiting.
New developments in Specialist Dementia Care and Palliative Care Nurses.
New Direct Access (by GP referral) to Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Increased Dietetic and Foot Care Services.
Possible development of community day services.
It is for Tayside regional council to consider the level and location of social work day-care services.
Mr. Stewart : Unemployment is on a downward trend. Since December 1992, the level of seasonally adjusted unemployment has fallen by 17, 100 to stand at 232,500 and 9.3 per cent. of the work force in May 1994.