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Landfill Tax

Ms Primarolo: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when the consultation paper on the proposed landfill tax will be published; and to whom it will be distributed.

Mr. Atkins: We anticipate launching a consultation exercise on the proposed landfill levy early in 1995. The consultation document will be sent to a wide range of interested bodies, including representatives of waste producers, the waste disposal industry, local authorities and environmental interests.

Toxic Materials

Ms Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, pursuant to his answer of 6 December, Official Report, column 134 , if he will list the sites at which all current and planned trials of substitute fuels in kilns are being carried out.

Mr. Atkins: The following kilns are currently undertaking trials with substitute fuels.

Castle Cement Clitheroe--Ribblesdale Works, Clitheroe, Lancashire Rugby Cement Barrington--Barrington Works, Barrington, Cambridge.


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Rugby Cement Ketton--Ketton Cement Works, Ketton, Stamford, Lincolnshire.

Blue Circle Weardale--Weardale Works, Eastgate, Bishop Auckland, County Durham.

Redland Aggregates Thrislington--Thrislington Works, West Cornforth, Ferryhill, County Durham.

The following plant has made an application to undertake trials. Rugby Cement Southam--Southam Works, Long Itchington, Rugby, Warwickshire.

Ethnic Minorities

Mr. Khabra: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what discussions he has had with the Home Secretary about the effect of Home Office decisions in respect of section 11 funding on decisions in respect of allocating single regeneration budget resources to a borough with particular reference to ethnic minorities; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Curry: The criteria for decisions on the allocation of the SRB bidding round and section 11 resources were set out respectively in the SRB bidding guidance issued on 14 April and in letters sent by the Home Office on 7 September and 24 November to local authorities and others. These were agreed by both Departments and recognise the needs of ethnic minorities. Decisions on section 11 bids will take into account relevant funding under the SRB.

Housing Associations

Mr. Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what encouragement his Department is giving to encourage housing associations to refurbish properties rather than new-build.

Mr. Robert B. Jones: We are placing an increasing emphasis on regeneration in the Housing Corporation's approved development programme. Some 40 per cent. of approved development programme resources for new housing association schemes in 1995 96 will be for regeneration purposes, including rehabilitation and short-life housing, and schemes in city challenge and renewal areas.

Unitary Authorities

Mr. Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will give the official working definition of a unitary authority.

Mr. Robert B. Jones: There is no statutory definition of "unitary authority". I would understand it to mean a local authority responsible for carrying out both county and district level functions.

Planning Inspectorate

Mr. Sims: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has to review the planning inspectorate.

Mr. Gummer: The planning inspectorate, as an executive next steps agency, is being reviewed. As part of the usual arrangements for next steps agencies, performance and activities will be subjected to the normal prior options tests set out in the 1993 "Next Steps Review", Cm 2430.

Comments and contributions from those with an interest in the work of the agency will be welcome, and should be sent, by 28 February 1995, to Richard Jones,


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Planning Directorate, Department of the Environment, Room C13/16a, 2 Marsham street, London SW1P 3EB for England or to Peter Roderick, Planning Division, Welsh Office, Cathays Park, Cardiff CF1 3NQ for Wales.

The planning inspectorate was launched as an executive agency in the Department of the Environment and the Welsh Office in April 1992. It serves the Secretaries of State for the Environment and Wales on appeals and other casework under planning, housing, environment, highways and allied legislation.

Standard Spending Assessments

Mr. Raynsford: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list the undertakings given by the Government in their response to the first report from the Environment Select Committee, Session 1993 94, on standard spending assessments, Cm. 2494, indicating in respect of each undertaking what action has been taken and when.

Mr. Robert B. Jones: The undertakings that were given in the Government's response to the Select Committee report and the action that has been taken are as follows:

Subject --Openness (Recommendation 1)

Undertaking --The Government will continue to discuss possible changes in SSA methodology with the local authority associations and to provide them with the data underlying any analyses.

Action --Between March and September 1994 there were 11 meetings of the SSA sub-group. This sub-group is the forum for discussions between the local authority associations and central Government Departments about possible changes in the formulae for SSAs. A report of the work of this sub-group was received by the Consultative Council on Local Government Finance in October.

Subject --Judgment (Recommendation 4)

Undertaking --Later this spring, the Department of the Environment will publish an updated edition of the SSA "Background and Underlying -- Methodology" booklet which will explain how Ministers reached decisions on the choice of particular indicators and the research underpinning those decisions.

Action --The publication of the methodology handbook has been delayed. I hope it will be possible to publish it in January. Subject Information for authorities on calculation of SSAs (Recommendation 5)

Undertaking --To discuss with the local authority associations the value to individual authorities of providing them with completed calculations. If there is agreement that information in this form would be of use to individual authorities we will consider, with the associations, whether this can be provided.

Action --We discussed the issue with local authority associations and completed calculations have been sent to individual local authorities. The authorities have been invited to comment on their usefulness.

Subject --Use of regression analysis (Recommendation 6) and Factors which influence local authority spending (Recommendation 19)

Undertakings --The Government will be setting in motion some research to consider the scope for alternatives to regression, particularly those involving expenditure data ... It is unlikely that this research would be completed in 1994.The Government are looking carefully at the priorities for future work into SSAs in consultation with the local authority associations. This work is likely to include an examination of alternative ways in which the


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assessment might be made. This work would need to include consideration of any extra information which might be required and the cost and feasibility of collecting it.

Action --We have drafted a specification for research which we plan to discuss with the local authority associations on 17 January. The research would consider alternatives to regression analysis as ways of examining the factors which influence local authority spending.

Subject --Change in SSA methodology following reorganisation (Recommendation 7) and Damping effects of changes following reorganisation (Recommendation 10) .

Undertakings --The Department will be reviewing whether any SSA methodology changes will be necessary as a result of the local government review and will discuss such matters with the local authority associations within the forum of the settlement working group, which is informed by the SSA sub- group and the restructuring finance sub-group. The impact on SSAs of the reorganisation of local authorities and the need for any safety net arrangements will be discussed extensively with the local authority associations during the course of this year within the forum of the settlement working group.

Action --We have analysed the likely effects of local government reorganisation and considered whether damping and any methodology changes are necessary. We discussed the effects with the local authority associations in the restructuring finance sub-group. For 1995 96 we considered that no damping and only minimal changes were required, though more substantive changes may need to be considered for 1996 97. Changes for 1996 97 will be considered initially by the SSA sub-group.

Subject --Future recalibration of SSAs (Recommendation 9) and future work on SSAs (Recommendation 20)

Undertakings --During 1994 the Government intend to discuss with the local authority associations more limited changes in SSAs which now require examination, such as changes in the formula relating to the police which were not examined as part of the 1993 review of SSAs. The SSA sub-group will meet again in 1994 to consider SSA data and methodology issues. Among the Government's priorities for work in 1994 will be the police SSA and the way in which the area cost adjustment tapers outside London.

Action --Possible changes to SSA methodology, put forward by Department of the Environment, other Government Departments and local authority associations, were considered by the SSA sub-group and, in respect of police formula, by a working party chaired by the Home Office. The Government's proposals for SSAs in 1995 96, which incorporate proposed changes in methodology, were published on 1 December 1994. The proposed changes include a significant change relating to police and a change to the taper on the area cost adjustment, but are more limited than those arising from the 1993 review.

Subject --Stability and the SSA reduction grant (Recommendation 14)

Undertakings --The Department of the Environment will be considering with other Government Departments and the local authority associations whether to commission research into ways of updating before 2001 the proxy variables derived from the census. Decisions on whether to pay SSA reduction grant for 1995 96 will be taken, together with other decisions on the local government finance settlement for that year.

Action --Discussions have taken place with the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys about work it has started in this area. Their proposals will be discussed with the local authority associations early in 1995. The


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proposals for local authority finance in 1995 96 include payment of SSA reduction grant in respect of changes resulting from the 1993 review of SSAs, and in respect of changes in the police SSA, and police grant.

Subject --Community Care (Recommendation 15)

Undertaking --The distribution--of the special transitional grant--will continue to be discussed with the local authority associations in the normal way and in the light of overall monitoring.

Action --The arrangements for distributing the 1995 96 STG for community care were discussed at a meeting between officials of Department of Health and the local authority associations. The associations were also given the opportunity to comment on these matters in writing. In the light of the views expressed, it is the Government's intention to base the distribution of the 1995 96 STG wholly on the SSA for personal social services. The Government remain of the view that it is not possible to monitor the effect of the chosen distribution in isolation from other factors.

Subject --Day visitors (Recommendation 18)

Undertaking --A number of issues regarding the day visitor estimates have been raised in discussion with local authority associations and by individual authorities. These issues and other matters concerning potential enhancements to the day visitor estimates will be addressed in the coming year as part of the process of keeping this indicator under review.

Action --In 1994, the SSA sub-group considered a paper presented by DOE and Department of National Heritage looking at the strategy for updating the day visitor numbers. It was generally agreed that, pending a more comprehensive review during 1995, when updated information will become available, there should be no change for 1995 96.

Sir Teddy Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if county councils are permitted to exceed standard spending assessment limits by the use of reserves.

Mr. Robert B. Jones [holding answer 16 December 1994]: Yes. Expenditure funded from reserves or balances lies outside an authority's budget requirement, which is the quantity to which the capping principles apply.

Sir Teddy Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what procedures exist for the review of individual standard spending assessments issued to individual county councils in the event of substantial and unexpected increases in the demand for services; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Robert B. Jones [holding answer 16 December 1994]: Standard spending assessments are calculated using a uniform methodology which is applied to all authorities. The methodology is discussed in detail with the local authority associations. Where possible, the data used in the calculation of SSAs are brought up to date each year to reflect the changing conditions in the area of each individual local authority. Where demand for an individual authority's services increases we would normally expect this to be reflected in the data underlyings its SSA, albeit with a time lag.

The proposed SSAs for 1995 96 were announced on

1 December. Authorities have the opportunity to make

representations in the period to 6 January. Having considered the representations, the Secretary of State will lay before the House of Commons a local government finance report setting out SSAs for each authority for 1995 96.


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Once the report is approved, there can be no more than one amending report. There is a separate scheme, the Bellwin scheme, to deal with major emergencies.

The capping principles recognise that SSAs cannot reflect precisely every local circumstance, by allowing a margin of 12.5 per cent. over an authority's SSA before its budget requirement is regarded as excessive. In addition, local authorities will normally hold balances to meet expenditure unexpected at the time of their budget.

Coventry Airport

Mr. Pawsey: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he received a letter from the hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth about matters raised by B. Oakley about Coventry airport; when he decided to refer the matter to the Department of Transport; and what were the reasons for the lapse of time.

Sir Paul Beresford [holding answer 12 December 1994]: A letter from the hon. Member dated

31 October, addressed to the Minister for the Environment and Countryside, about matters raised by B. Oakley about Coventry airport was received in my Department on

3 November. The subject matter was confirmed as being for the Department of Transport on 30 November and the correspondence transferred on 2 December. The main reason for the delay in confirming that the matter was not for this Department was an oversight by staff in my Department.

Sewage Disposal

Ms Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the Government's policy with regard to the disposal of sewage through long sea outfall pipes.

Mr. Atkins [holding answer 14 December 1994]: Government policy is that all significant discharges of sewage into coastal and estuarial waters should be treated. This will be achieved through implementation of the EC urban waste water treatment directive.

Ms Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list the location and date of commissioning for long sea outfall pipes for sewage which are (a) proposed, (b) already commissioned and (c) under construction.

Mr. Atkins [holding answer 14 December 1994]: Comprehensive information on the numbers and locations of existing or proposed long sea outfall pipes is not kept by my Department.

Radioactive Waste

Mr. Betts: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) what are the estimated volumes for low-level radioactive waste which the recent consultation document proposes shall be dumped in public refuse tips;

(2) what are the origins of the low-level radioactive waste from the nuclear industry which it is proposed to dump on public refuse tips according to the recent consultative document;

(3) what consideration has been given to the transportation problems associated with the dumping of low-level radioactive waste on public refuse tips as proposed in the recent consultative document.

Mr. Atkins [holding answer 15 December 1994]: The consultation document, "Review of Radioactive Waste


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Management Policy: Preliminary Conclusions", proposed that there would be advantage in encouraging greater use of controlled burial of low-level radioactive waste in landfill sites.

Low-level waste from the nuclear industry includes discarded protective clothing, used paper towels and plastic wrappings, and other lightly contaminated items of equipment, as well as building rubble and steelwork from decommissioned plant. No estimate has been made of the volumes of waste which producers might seek to dispose of in this way. No transportation problems were anticipated; where the level of radioactivity requires it, waste consignments are subject to control under international regulations made by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The consultation document was sent to a wide range of interested bodies and we shall be considering future policy in the light of the many responses received.

Water Authorities

Ms Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many people are employed, and at what locations, by (a) the National Rivers Authority, (b) Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution, (c) the London Waste Regulation Authority, (d) local waste regulation authorities, (e) the nuclear installations inspectorate and (f) the drinking water inspectorate.

Sir Paul Beresford [holding answer 15 December 1994]: The numbers of persons employed by the following organisations are, from recent information available to the Department, as follows: (a) the National Rivers Authority: 7,709;

(b) Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Pollution: 430;

(c) the London Waste Regulation Authority; 122;

(d) other local authorities in England and Wales who are waste regulation authorities--the number of persons working on those authorities' waste regulation functions: 982;

(e) the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate: 269; and

(f) the Drinking Water Inspectorate: 30.

The figures for different organisations are not necessarily on a comparable basis or at the same date. Details of the location of the employees of all these organisations are not held centrally.

Biological Diversity

Mr. Dafis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the outcome of the first conference of the parties meeting for the convention for biological diversity.

Mr. Atkins [holding answer 16 December 1994]: The first meeting of the conference of the parties to the convention on biological diversity took place in Nassau, the Bahamas from 28 November to 9 December 1994. A good start was made towards implementing the convention and setting up the administrative machinery to operate it. The United Nations environment programme was designated as the organisation to host the convention secretariat. The work of the scientific advisory body was set in train, with its first meeting due to take place in Paris from 4 to 8 September 1995. A working group was established to enable the next COP to consider the need for a biosafety protocol. A three-year work programme was agreed for the COP which reflects the three objectives of the convention, namely conservation of biodiversity, its sustainable use, and sharing of the benefits derived from


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it. On finance, appropriate policy guidance was issued to the global environment facility, which was confirmed as the interim financial mechanism to fund the incremental costs of projects in developing countries designed to deliver the objectives of the convention. The rules on voting on financial provisions were left to be resolved at a future meeting.

The provisional dates for the next meeting of the conference of the parties are 6 to 17 November 1995. It will consider, inter alia, voting on financial provisions, the location of the convention secretariat and the designation of the permanent financial mechanism and will make decisions on the substantive work of the convention, including the consideration of biodiversity under threat.

Mr. Dafis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps the United Kingdom Government took at the first meeting of the conference of the parties for the convention on biological diversity to ensure that the convention is used as a means of conserving forests.

Mr. Atkins [holding answer 16 December 1994]: The conservation of forests was not a substantive item on the agenda of the first meeting of the conference of the parties to the convention on biological diversity held in Nassau, the Bahamas from 28 November to 9 December 1994. However, a statement to be conveyed to the Commission on Sustainable Development on behalf of the COP emphasises the importance of conservation, management and sustainable use of forests for achieving the objectives of the convention and makes clear that the COP stands ready to develop measures to achieve the convention's objectives with respect to forests. The convention will undertake a programme of work on terrestrial biological diversity. This will take account of the consideration of forests and biodiversity by the third session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development next year.

National Theatre

Mr. Chris Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has to call in the current planning application for alterations to the National theatre for public inquiry.

Sir Paul Beresford [holding answer 16 December 1994]: I will await the local planning authority's consideration of the applications before considering whether or not to call them in.

Public Bodies

Dr. Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment which of the advisory non-departmental public bodies sponsored by his Department (a) hold open meetings, (b) conduct public consultation exercises, (c) conduct consultation exercises with outside commercial interests, (d) publish a register of members' interests, (e) publish agendas for meetings and (f) publish the minutes of meetings; and whether this is in each case (i) under a statutory requirement or (ii) voluntary.

Sir Paul Beresford [holding answer 16 December 1994]: A list of my Department's advisory bodies can be found in "Public Bodies". The following bodies carry out activities falling within the specified categories:


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(a) hold open meetings,

Local Government Commission

Local Government Staff Commission

(b) conduct public consultation exercises,

Local Government Commission

Local Government Staff Commission

Building Regulations Advisory Committee

Inland Waterways Amenity Advisory Council

(c) conduct consultation exercises with outside commercial interests,

Local Government Commission

Building Regulations Advisory Committee

Inland Waterways Amenity Advisory Council

Advisory Panel for Construction Research

(d) publish a register of members' interests,

Advisory Committee on Hazardous Substances

(f) publish the minutes of meetings,

Inland Waterways Amenity Advisory Council

The Local Government Commission is required by statute to carry out consultation exercises. None of the other activities are statutory requirement.


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