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Mr. Hardy: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what action he proposes to take in regard to the protection of hedgerows which were established under private enclosure legislation in the light of a recent court case in East Yorkshire. [40073]

Mr. Clappison: The recent judgment in this case established that the Yorkshire wildlife trust and Mr. Colin Seymour, a parishioner, have locus standi to pursue their application for a declaration that Flamborough parish council is bound by the relevant Enclosure Act and award to preserve part of an enclosure hedge. I understand that the application has yet to be heard by the court. We await the outcome with interest. When that is known, we will consider the implications of this case, if any, for regulations for the protection of important hedgerows to be introduced under section 97 of the Environment Act 1995. Such regulations will not, however, override restrictions imposed by other enactments or agreements, including enclosure awards.

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Rating Appeals

Mr. Tipping: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many rating appeals (a) in total and (b) by valuation office were lodged against the (i) 1990 and (ii) 1995 rating lists; and in each case how many (1) have been resolved and (2) are outstanding. [40423]

Sir Paul Beresford: I am placing in the Library a set of tables which set out, in total, by region and by each office of the Valuation Office agency in England, the number of valid proposals to alter the 1995 rating lists which were received by 31 August 1996, the number settled and the number outstanding.

I am also placing in the Library tables setting out, in total, by region and by each office, the number of proposals to alter the 1990 lists which are outstanding as at 31 August. The number of valid proposals received against the 1990 list in England up to 31 August was 1,402,948. Information on the number received by individual office and region is not available, as the structure and number of offices have now changed.

Mr. Tipping: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects all the appeals against (a) the 1990 rating list and (b) the 1995 rating list to have been resolved; and if he will make a statement. [40424]

Sir Paul Beresford: Current plans are that appeals against the 1990 rating lists outstanding at 1 April 1996 should be cleared by 31 December 1996; appeals made prior to 31 March 1996 by 31 December 1997; and to reduce progressively the time to clear appeals to a maximum of 12 months by 1 April 1988. The only exceptions will be cases where all reasonable efforts to settle matters by agreement have been exhausted and the cases are awaiting determination by valuation tribunals or by the Lands Tribunal.

Sustainable Development

Mr. Meacher: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what assessment he has made of the research being conducted at British universities into materials that could be exported in support of construction projects compatible with principles of sustainable development; and what support his Department has provided these projects. [40425]

Mr. Clappison: My Department has made no such assessment. However, the Department of the Environment is providing direct support for the enhancement of civil engineering exports, including environmental technology, through collaborative funding of a two-year research project led by the Institution of Civil Engineers. This follows a recommendation from the national technology foresight exercise and will promote appropriate research programmes to cultivate UK expertise critical to export success in civil engineering.

Child Care (North Hull)

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects to announce approval of the child care facility in north Hull under the Yorkshire and Humberside objectives of the European regional development fund programme. [40477]

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Sir Paul Beresford: The approval letters for this scheme were issued by the Department for Education and Employment on 25 September 1996.

European Regional Development Fund

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when his Department plans to complete its review of ERDF processes in England. [40421]

Sir Paul Beresford: We hope to complete the review in time for the implementation of the 1997 to 1999 round of objective 2 programmes.

Administrative Expenditure Guidelines

Mr. Meacher: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when his finance directorate issued its MINIS 17 guidelines for administrative expenditure. [40654]

Sir Paul Beresford: Expenditure guidelines were issued on 22 September 1995 at the beginning of the MINIS 17 planning round, based on the resource requirements which were agreed in MINIS 16. The guidelines were adjusted as normal throughout the MINIS 17 round, in the light of available resources, technical changes and decisions taken.

Drinking Water Inspectorate

Mr. Meacher: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what assessment he has made of whether the outcome of the review of the handling of incidents and prosecutions by the drinking water inspectorate is consistent with the quality procedures manual and the code of enforcement. [40656]

Mr. Clappison: The review of incidents was carried out by a consultant on behalf of the drinking water inspectorate. It did not cover the inspectorate's handling of incidents, but was concerned with the lessons that could be learnt by the water companies in preventing incidents and their handling of them. The objectives of the review included: categorising the type of incidents, causes and frequency of occurrence; carrying out a critical appraisal of water companies' responses to incidents, including actions taken to protect and inform consumers, to communicate with health and local authorities and to prevent recurrence of incidents; assessing the effectiveness of water companies' arrangements for responding to incidents and the actions taken to rectify any faults in the treatment/distribution system, identifying areas of weakness; identifying those incidents which were outside the control of the company and those incidents which were avoidable; identifying those regulations which are commonly breached; and making recommendations appropriate to the findings from the above on any issues which warrant wider consideration.

The inspectorate is assessing the consultant's findings and will publish the main conclusions and lessons to be learnt early in 1997.

The drinking water inspectorate's quality procedures manual consists of a number of procedures covering the inspectorate's activities, including one on the handling of incidents and another on the handling of consumer complaints about drinking water quality. These procedures have been developed as part of the inspectorate's total quality programme. The one on

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handling incidents has been in operation since May 1996. This procedure is an important part in achieving a consistent and rigorous approach to the investigations of incidents.

The code for enforcement was introduced at the beginning of 1994. The code sets down how the inspectorate carries out its duties and sets service standards with response times. The inspectorate reports on its performance against the response times in its annual report.

Central Economic Directorate

Mr. Meacher: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has to make more transparent the output of his Department's central economic directorate. [40657]

Mr. Clappison: The output of the Department's chief economist directorate is set out each year in its MINIS return.

"Policy Appraisal and the Environment"

Mr. Meacher: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he plans to publish his Department's evaluation of the Government advisory document, "Policy Appraisal and the Environment," as implemented by Government Departments. [40655]

Mr. Clappison: The consultants appointed to undertake the evaluation of "Policy Appraisal and the Environment" are due to submit a draft final report to the Department in mid-December. No decision about the timing of publication has yet been taken.

Environment Policy

Mr. Meacher: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what assessment he has made of the implications for the United Kingdom environment policy of ISO 14001 published in September; and if he will make a statement. [40653]

Mr. Clappison: The White Paper on sustainable development--Cmnd. 2426--set out the Government's belief that voluntary initiatives by business have a vital role to play. The Government therefore welcome the new international standard for environmental management systems, ISO 14001, as it provides a management tool which will enable businesses voluntarily to improve their environmental performance. I was delighted earlier this week to address the British Standards Institution's conference to launch ISO 14001 in this country, an event which aptly reflected the pioneering work previously done by the institution to establish the world's first specification for environmental management systems, BS 7750. Businesses now have a framework for a voluntary and proactive approach to the management of their environmental impacts which is backed up by a regime of independent certification and is recognised worldwide. Companies making use of the standard will also be well on the way to achieving registration of their sites under the eco-management and audit scheme, which was launched last year across the European Union and is keenly supported by the Government. These initiatives, with their industry-wide recognition, should together form a powerful incentive for progressive business organisations to improve their competitiveness and at the

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same time raise the level of their environmental performance well above the minimum demanded by regulation.

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