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Sellafield

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) what is his Department's planned timetable for the assessment of the Environment Agency decisions on the proposed variations to BNFL's authorisations to discharge liquid and gaseous radioactive waste from Sellafield; [57103]

Mr. Meacher: The Agency's draft determination was received today on 2 November. Requests have been received for the Secretary of State to call in the application for his own determination. These requests are under careful consideration and the Secretary of State will reach a decision as soon as he is able to do so. One of the issues raised in the call in requests, which the Secretary of State will consider, is whether sufficient information has been released into the public domain to allow consultees to comment on the application.

Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) what consideration he will give to the health, environmental and proliferation implications of further moves towards the full operation of the British Nuclear Fuels Mixed Oxide Fuel Plant at Sellafield in his assessment of the Environment Agency's proposed decision on the plant; [57221]

Mr. Meacher [holding answer 29 October 1998]: The Agency's draft determination was received on Monday 2 November. Requests have been received for the Secretary of State to call in the application for his own determination. These requests are under careful consideration. In deciding whether to exercise the

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statutory powers of call in all relevant factors will be taken into account. The Secretary of State will reach a decision as soon as he is able to do so.

Teesside Development Corporation

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how (a) computers and (b) CD-Roms were disposed of after the demise of Teesside Development Corporation in April. [57613]

Mr. Meale: Although the Teesside Development Corporation ceased its operational activities at the end of March, it continued in existence until the end of June in order to produce its final report and accounts and wind up its affairs. I understand that the Corporation disposed of its computer equipment during that final three-month period, after inviting competitive bids and having wiped clean the disks, as part of a packaged disposal of its office furniture and equipment.

Land Use Database

Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what proposals the Government have to provide resources to councils to enable the setting up of the National Land Use Database proposed in the White Paper, Planning for the Communities of the Future; and if he will make a statement. [57416]

Mr. Raynsford: The Government are committed to raising the proportion of new homes expected to be built on previously developed land to 60 per cent. over the next ten years. The National Land Use Database (NLUD) is important to the achievement of that objective.

Comprehensive information about the amount of land devoted to different uses is not currently collected in any nationally consistent way. This new database, which my Department is developing in partnership with the Local Government Management Board, Ordnance Survey, English Partnerships and local authorities, will eventually comprise a definitive database of land use in England, in a form that can readily be kept up to date.

For the first phase, results for which will be available in April, local authorities have been asked to provide information on previously developed sites in their area that may be available for redevelopment for new housing or other uses. This information will assist in the setting of regional targets for the re-use of previously developed land for housing, as announced in the policy document "Planning for the Communities of the Future".

With our partners in NLUD, we have taken a number of steps to assist local authorities in providing the information. These include:



    database--each local authority will be given a copy of a customised database, to help them in capturing the information;


    surveyors--English Partnerships will be contracting surveyors to visit each local authority to assist them in drawing up their list of sites;


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    helpline--there is a dedicated helpline for local authorities to call if they have queries.


In addition, we recognise the tight timetable for supply of the data and have extended the deadline to early February 1999.

This initiative has the full support of the Local Government Association and will be an invaluable resource to local authorities in the future.

Packaging (Recovery)

Dr. Whitehead: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) how many prosecutions of eligible companies failing to register under the terms of the packaging recovery note provisions have taken place since the scheme was introduced; [57602]

Mr. Meale: Under the provisions of the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 1997 eligible businesses have obligations to:




Obligated businesses are able to demonstrate compliance with the Regulations by obtaining a Packaging Waste Recovery Note (PRN) from an accredited reprocessor or by following the alternative approach to compliance set out in the Agencies' guidance. So far the Environment Agency has approved 191 companies as accredited reprocessors.

The Environment Agencies have a duty to monitor compliance with the Regulations. Businesses that fail to comply with the Regulations may be subject to prosecution by the Agencies. The Environment Agency views particularly seriously the non-registration of obligated businesses. The Environment Agency is carrying out a programme of visits and follow-up inquiries to companies which it believes may need to be registered. Where this has been established, the business has registered.

However, the Agency's announcement of 23 October, copies of which are being placed in the Library, clearly warns businesses that prosecutions will now follow after a 7 November deadline for 1998 registrations.

In 1997 there were 3,839 businesses registered under the terms of the Regulations. In 1998 there are 3,813 registrations to date. When account is taken of the subsidiary businesses covered by the registration of a group of companies, the number of businesses covered by registration is 8,832 businesses.

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Local Government White Paper

Mr. Willis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has to allow local democratically elected authorities to agree alternative structures for political leadership other than those proposed in the Government's local government White Paper. [57683]

Mr. Raynsford: Within the 3 models proposed in the White Paper--directly elected mayor with cabinet, cabinet with a leader, and directly elected mayor and council manager--the scope for local diversity is great. If practice subsequently points up the possibility of other further valuable models for separating out the executive from the scrutiny role, the Government intend to provide for them to be available to local authorities.

Mr. Willis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has to extend the additional powers and freedoms proposed for the beacon councils to all democratically elected councils in England and Wales. [57676]

Ms Armstrong: Beacon councils will be a key driver in modernising local government, setting the pace of change, and acting as a test bed for new freedoms and flexibilities. The transfer of freedoms and flexibilities to other councils will be considered in the light of experience by beacons. We will consult widely before establishing the scheme for beacon councils.


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