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Tree Planting

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what Government financial help is available to local authorities in England and Wales to encourage tree-planting schemes within their areas. [27635]

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Angela Eagle: Local authorities may plant trees themselves or support planting schemes carried out by others. Any financial help is given at the discretion of each local authority from resources available to them through the local government finance system. Authorities may also be eligible to apply for the Forestry Commission's Woodland Grant Scheme, which offers grant aid for the establishment and management of woodlands.

In addition, local authorities may be partners in Government sponsored programmes which involve tree planting as part of a wider strategy to improve the local environment, such as the Community Forest Programme and the Single Regeneration Budget. They may also work with voluntary organisations supported financially by the Government to encourage tree planting (such as the Tree Council) or who are engaged in planting trees (such as Groundwork and the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers).

Hedges

Jane Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has to amend building regulations to limit the height to which hedges and trees around residential property may be allowed to grow. [27503]

Angela Eagle: I am considering whether some form of Government intervention in relation to such hedges and trees is justified, but there are no powers to limit their height under building regulations, which apply only to the design and construction of buildings.

Mottram Tintwistle By-pass

Mr. Levitt: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what proportion of land on the proposed route of the A625/A57 Mottram Tintwistle by-pass is currently in the ownership of the Highways Agency. [27447]

Ms Glenda Jackson: The Highways Agency owns 13 of the 15 properties which should have to be demolished to build the road. The rest of the land, about 40 hectares, would be acquired under compulsory purchase powers, following the completion of the statutory procedures, if the scheme goes ahead. The scheme is included in the strategic review of Trunk Roads, the results of which we aim to announce later this year.

Regional Development Agencies

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what recent representations he has received on the structure of regional development agencies. [27686]

Mr. Caborn: Since the publication in December of the White Paper, "Building Partnerships for Prosperity", and of the Regional Development Agencies Bill, I have received a number of letters about various matters relating to RDAs. In addition, I have regularly had meetings with interested parties, both in London and in the regions, to hear at first hand what people think about our proposals.

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Rail Investment

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement on levels of investment planned by (a) Railtrack and (b) the private train operators in 1998. [27638]

Ms Glenda Jackson: Railtrack publishes its levels of investment for the maintenance, renewal and enhancement of the network in an annual Network Management Statement. The next statement is expected in March. No organisation is currently responsible for monitoring the total investment levels planned by all train operators, though the Franchising Director monitors contractually committed investment. Our proposed Rail Authority will help to meet the need for proper strategic planning in the industry.

Roads

Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what representations he has received from local authorities on the adequacy of funding for (a) outstanding maintenance work on local authority roads and (b) improvement of transport infrastructure to meet current needs. [27886]

Ms Glenda Jackson: Since my right hon. Friend the Minister for Transport announced the local transport capital settlement on 17 December 1997, Official Report, columns 198-99, my Department has received eight written representations from local authorities about, inter alia, the adequacy of funding for the structural maintenance of local authority roads. A further 11 written representations have been received about the funding of other transport capital infrastructure in the local transport capital settlement. Officials of the Government Offices of my Department have also held a number of routine meetings with local authorities to discuss the settlement.

Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he has sought advice from the Standing Advisory Committee on Trunk Road Assessment for the purposes of the (a) Roads Review and (b) Integrated Transport White Paper. [28452]

Ms Glenda Jackson: In July, we asked SACTRA to contribute advice in time for the Roads Review and White Paper timetables. We are pleased to confirm that we have now received an interim report from the Committee and this will be taken account of in our deliberations on the Roads Review and Integrated Transport White Paper. Copies of the report will be placed in the House Libraries.

Public Access

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will list the locations of privately-owned land which has been opened up to public access since 1996 as a result of a voluntary access agreement with a member of the Country Landowners Association. [27484]

Angela Eagle: This information is not held centrally.

Property Standards

Mr. Willis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he

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has to introduce legislation to require owners to maintain their properties in a reasonable and safe state of repair. [27711]

Mr. Raynsford: Owners are first and foremost responsible for maintaining their properties in a reasonable and safe state of repair. Statutory provisions exist for local authorities to take enforcement action against owners whose properties are unfit for human habitation or in a state of disrepair. In the private rented sector we are committed to introducing a licensing scheme for houses in multiple occupation where poor fire and safety and other health and safety standards often apply. Primary legislation will be needed to introduce a licensing scheme.

Royal Bournemouth Hospital (Clinical Waste Incinerator)

Mr. David Atkinson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what has been the cost to public funds of the public inquiry into the appeal by White Rose Environmental against the enforcement notice of Dorset County Council Ref T/APP/C/97/C1245/646229/P6 and T/APP/C1245/A/96/275779/P6 regarding the clinical waste incinerator at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital. [28183]

Mr. Raynsford: I have asked the Chief Executive of the Planning Inspectorate to write to the hon. Member.

Letter from David Hanchet to Mr. David Atkinson, dated 6 February 1998:



Empty Properties

Mr. Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what is his estimate of the (a) annual cost and (b) total value of the empty properties owned by (i) his Department, (ii) his agencies and (iii) other public bodies for which he has responsibility, in (A) 1995-96, (B) 1996-97, (C) 1997-98 to date and (D) 1997-98 full year. [26656]

Angela Eagle [holding answer 5 February 1998]: The information requested is as follows:

961996-971997-98 (to date)1997-98 (estimate)
Department (incl. Executive Agencies)
Cost of empty property.543.546.461.9
Value of empty property5.0158.0377.0377.0
Executive agencies
Cost of empty property.543.58.911.9
Value of empty property5.0158.0127.0127.0

Note:

Information on NDPBs is not held centrally.


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