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Local Government Finance

Mr. Devlin: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what are the latest figures for the levels of (a) uncollected rents, (b) uncollected community charge and (c) uncollected council tax for each local authority in England.

Mr. Robert B. Jones: A table showing information on uncollected rents as at 31 March 1994 was published by the Department on 14 November 1994; a copy of the table is available in the Library of the House.

Information on uncollected community charge and council tax for each local authority is not available centrally. However, the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy regularly publishes estimates for individual authorities: figures for 31 March 1994 are available in its revenue collection statistics 1993 94 publication, a copy of which is in the Library of the House.

Mr. Rendel: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how much community charge remains uncollected by each local authority.

Mr. Curry: Information on uncollected community charge for each local authority is not available centrally. However, the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy regularly publishes estimates for individual authorities: figures for 31 March 1994 are available in its revenue collection statistics 1993 94 publication, a copy of which is in the Library of the House.

Mr. Alton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received about the effect on the north-west regional economy of the revaluation of rateable values on the uniform business rate; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Robert B. Jones: I have received a number of representations from the north-west about the 1995 revaluation of non-domestic property and its effect on businesses. The Government have introduced transitional arrangements to phase in the impact of the revaluation on rate bills; over 180,000 ratepayers in the north-west will benefit from these arrangements.


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Urban Programme Funding

Mr. Allen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what are the criteria for deciding which bodies qualify for urban programme funding; if he will place these criteria in the Library; and if he will make a statement.

Sir Paul Beresford: Since 1 April 1993, urban programme funding has been restricted to meeting commitments on projects approved in 1992 93 and earlier years. The urban programme is one of the 20 programmes which now comprise the single regeneration budget. "A guide to funding under the Single Regeneration Budget", the "Bidding Guidance", was published on 14 April 1994 and copies were placed in the Library.

Dioxin Emissions

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what proposals he has to reduce greatly dioxin emissions in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Atkins: The Government have already taken action in several areas to reduce dioxin emissions. These include banning stubble burning; encouraging the uptake of unleaded petrol; setting maximum levels of dioxin in pentachlorophenol and limiting its use as a wood preservative; and implementing integrated pollution control and local authority air pollution control for incineration processes. Waste incineration has been a major contributor of dioxins to the environment. Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution, however, has set a limit for the emission of dioxins from incinerators of1 nanogramme per cubic metre, to be achieved by 1 December 1996. This target will reduce releases of dioxins from the incineration plant they control by over 90 per cent.

Mr. Denham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects to complete his assessment of the draft report of the United States Environmental Protection Agency on dioxin pollution; and when he expects to publish his assessment.

Mr. Atkins: An initial study has already been made of the EPA's draft report on dioxins. A copy of the comments sent to the EPA has been placed in the Library of the House. The Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment is carrying out an expert review of the health effects of dioxins, including the work referred to in the EPA draft report. This should be completed during the summer and should be published shortly thereafter.

Planning

Mr. Harry Greenway: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will issue further guidance on expenditure acceptable under section 106 of the Planning Land Compensation Act 1991 and his circular 16/91 on planning gain funds; at what distance from a development a project can be considered to relate to it; and what types of project qualify.

Sir Paul Beresford: I shall write to the hon. Member.

Waste Incineration

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what assessment his Department has made


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of the environmental impact of incinerating (a) household and (b) industrial waste.

Mr. Atkins: My Department published a report in November 1993 of a study on the environmental externalities from landfill and incineration. The study considers the environmental impacts of the two methods of waste disposal, and discusses the extent to which these impacts are controlled through the regulatory arrangements and reflected in waste disposal prices. Findings from the study suggest that incineration with energy recovery may offer real environmental benefits.

A consultation draft of a waste strategy for England and Wales was published by the Department in January 1995. In discussing the advantages and disadvantages of the various options for waste disposal, it expresses the view that the recovery of energy from waste through incineration offers a number of important environmental advantages. I am arranging for a copy of the draft strategy to be sent to the hon. Member.

Index of Local Conditions

Mr. Betts: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment if he will publish the index of local conditions on a constituency basis using additional indicators which have been used at local authority level.

Mr. Robert B. Jones: The Department published the index of local conditions in May 1994 setting out information drawn mainly from the 1991 census at three levels--local authority district, ward and census enumeration district. The index includes a range of indicators at the different levels reflecting the availability and robustness of data at the smaller scales. It is not technically possible to calculate the index of local conditions at parliamentary constituency basis using additional indicators which have been used at local authority level.

Mr. Betts: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will publish the index of local conditions on a constituency basis using the seven indicators currently used at ward level.

Mr. Robert B. Jones: I refer the hon. Member to my separate answer today. The fuller analysis requested could be done by the Department only at disproportionate cost. However, the Department has an agreement with the London Research Centre to make available the data from the index of local conditions at a charge to cover the costs of any analysis requested. It is open to anyone to approach the London Research Centre to request extra analysis of the data.

European Regional Development Fund

Mr. Alton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects to respond to the representations made to him by the Merseyside European liaison unit about (a) the additionality requirements for 1995 objective 1 funding, (b) its submission concerning the strategic role of local authorities in determining priorities and (c) the enhancement of private sector participation in the objective 1 programme; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Curry: My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State replied to the representations from the Merseyside co-ordinating committee--to which the Merseyside European liaison unit reports--on 6 February.


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Mr. Alton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what assessment he has made of the extent to which small and medium--sized enterprises are obtaining a proper and adequate response through the objective 1 mechanisms.

Mr. Curry: A major part of the objective 1 programme in Merseyside is focused on the needs of small and medium-sized enterprises. For business advice and support alone, projects approved in principle in the 1994 bidding round will finance a package of assistance worth some £50 million.

Mr. Alton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what evidence he has that competition rules will be breached if EC funds are matched to private sector funds in an objective 1 area; and what discussions he has had with the EC about this.

Mr. Curry: Private sector funds are being matched in objective 1 areas without breaching competition rules. Issues such as the need for state aid clearance are considered and resolved in advance of aid being granted.

Mr. Alton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps he is taking to allow the private sector to apply direct for objective 1 funding for large infrastructure and productive investments.

Mr. Curry: The structural funds are used to support projects which provide economic benefits to the area concerned. This will not generally involve direct support for productive investment. Such support is made available through intermediary bodies. Proposals for facilitating the private sector contribution to infrastructure projects part funded by the structural funds have been put to the Commission and their comments are awaited.

Mrs. Jane Kennedy: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps he is taking to permit private sector companies to apply direct for objective1 European regional development fund support for large infrastructure projects.

Mr. Curry: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I have given to the hon. Member for Liverpool, Mossley Hill, (Mr. Alton).

Waste Mercury

Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list the land fill sites where waste mercury has been disposed of in each of the last five years.

Mr. Atkins: This information is not held centrally. Each waste regulation authority maintains a register which contains information about all landfill sites licenced by that authority under part II of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what are the current licensing requirements for the treatment and disposal of waste mercury.

Mr. Atkins: The treatment and disposal of controlled waste is subject to the licensing requirements of part II of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the Waste Management Licensing Regulations 1994-- S.I. 1994 1056. Controlled waste which is "special waste" is also subject to the requirements of the Control of Pollution (Special Waste) Regulations 1980--S.I. 1980 No. 1709. Mercury is one of the substances listed in part I of schedule I to the 1980 regulations and guidance on the circumstances in which it may meet the criteria for


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definition as special waste is provided in waste management paper No.23.

Suffolk County Council

Mr. David Porter: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what assessment he has made of the proportion of staff employed by Suffolk county council which are employed to fulfil statutory functions of the authority.

Mr. Robert B. Jones: The information necessary to make this assessment is not available.

Mr. David Porter: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many staff per 1,000 head of population are employed by Suffolk county council; what the figures were three year ago; and what comparisons he has made with other similar authorities.

Mr. Robert B. Jones: Suffolk county council employed 35.4 staff per thousand head of population in general services in June 1994. The comparable figure for June 1991 was 35.6. Comparable data for all authorities were deposited in the Library following my answer of 14 February 1995 to my hon. Friend the Member for Dover (Mr. Shaw), Official Report, column 549.

Lancashire and Gloucestershire County Councils

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many staff are employed by (a) Lancashire and (b) Gloucestershire county councils; what these figures are as a proportion of the population of the county councils.

Mr. Robert B. Jones: Lancashire county council employed 47,162 full- time and part-time staff in general services in June 1993--the latest available data for Lancashire; this represents 33.2 staff per thousand head of population. The comparable figures for Gloucestershire for June 1993 were 12,560 staff and 23.1 staff per thousand head of population; for June 1994 they were 11,417 staff and 21.0 staff per thousand head of population.

Pollution, Docklands

Ms Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what assessment his Department has made of the pollutant effects of emissions from the newspaper print works in docklands on the local environment; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Atkins [holding answer 13 February 1995]: The Department, in co-operation with local authorities, monitors nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and black smoke in the Greenwich, Stepney and Woolwich areas. The South East Institute of Public Health and the London borough of Tower Hamlets have just provided the Department with a copy of their report of a survey of volatile organic compounds in the Wapping area.

Regulations were made in May 1994 which clarified the inclusion of larger cold set web offset and sheet feed offset litho printing processes within the local authority air pollution control system established under the Environmental Protection Act 1990. We issued guidance on standards for these printing processes in November last year.

The UK has signed and ratified the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe protocol which


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requires a reduction of 30 per cent. in national emissions of VOCs comparing 1988 with 1999. We published a strategy for achieving this reduction in October 1993, which forecasts 49 per cent. reduction in VOCs from all printing processes.

Carbon Emissions

Mr. Dafis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what the policy of Her Majesty's Government at the meeting of the conference of the parties of the climate change convention in respect of targets for reductions of carbon emissions beyond the year 2000 will be.

Mr. Atkins [holding answer 16 February 1995]: The Government will support the position of the European Union, agreed at the meeting of the Environment Council in December.


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The conclusions of that Council call, inter alia, for the current commitments in the climate change convention to be strengthened and extended, and for the negotiation of a comprehensive protocol on greenhouse gases to be set in hand at the First Conference of Parties.

Sustainable Development

Mr. Dafis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the relationship between social equity and sustainable development.

Mr. Atkins [holding answer 16 February 1995]: The Government set out their understanding of sustainable development in the UK's strategy of 25 January 1994--Cm 2426. This emphasised two themes: the need for economic development to secure rising living standards for the whole of society, and the importance of protection and enhancement of the environment for the benefit of this and successive generations.


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