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Mr. Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has to fund (a) tram and (b) light railway systems as part of urban regeneration schemes; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Hill: Tram and light rail systems can have an important role to play in delivering integrated transport in major conurbations. Decisions on whether to provide central Government support for tram and light rail systems are taken on a case-by-case basis on the merits of the particular scheme. Where systems cannot be funded entirely from local sources or by the private sector, promoters must demonstrate that their scheme provides good value for money and forms an essential part of a local transport plan, and that the objectives of that plan cannot be met in other ways. In the Department's appraisal process, the wider economic impacts of a particular scheme, including any regeneration benefits are considered.
Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many agencies of his Department use touch tone telephone steering systems when dealing with telephone inquiries from the general public. 
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Mr. Gill: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what additional funding he will make available to local authorities for work on the rights of way network consequent upon the Countryside and Rights of Way Bill. 
Mr. Meacher [holding answer 6 July 2000]: Local authorities will be properly and reasonably funded for additional rights of way tasks. The funding expected to be required as a result of the Countryside and Rights of Way Bill is identified in the explanatory notes that accompany the Bill as between £12 million and £19 million per annum. We shall determine the exact sums to be made available in the next three years in the light of the outcome of the current spending review.
Mr. Levitt: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what environmental controls are applicable to the process of rendering animal carcases; and which organisation is responsible for them. 
Mr. Hill: Animal rendering plants are regulated by local authorities under the air pollution control regime established by Part I of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Where aqueous discharges arise the discharges are regulated by the Environment Agency under the Water Resources Act 1991.
Animal rendering plants will be subject to integrated pollution control under the Pollution Prevention and Control Act 1999 when it applies as set out in the draft Pollution Prevention and Control (England and Wales) Regulations 2000. It is envisaged under the regulations that local authorities will be the regulators, subject to the Environment Agency having power to specify emission limit values or conditions to prevent or reduce emissions into water.
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Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what progress he has made in determining the division of responsibilities for planning matters between (a) county and unitary councils, (b) district councils and (c) the proposed South Downs National Park. 
Ms Beverley Hughes [holding answer 7 July 2000]: We have asked the Countryside Agency to look at the detailed arrangements for handling planning matters for the proposed new National Park in the South Downs. They have established a working group who are now examining options for the division of responsibilities between existing authorities and any new National Park Authority. The Agency will be consulting locally on these options before advising Ministers on what they consider to be the most appropriate arrangements.
Mr. Fearn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what recent steps his Department has taken to (a) help regenerate coastal resorts and (b) improve bathing water quality. 
Ms Beverley Hughes [holding answer 7 July 2000]: The European flag may be flown provided planning permission for the flagstaff has been granted and express consent to fly the flag (under the separate arrangements for control of advertisements) has been given by the local planning authority. A Crown body that wishes to undertake development that would otherwise require planning permission, or express consent to display an advertisement, follows the non-statutory arrangements set out in part IV of DOE Circular 18/84. On 29 June I announced proposals to amend the Town and Country
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Planning (Control of Advertisements) Regulations 1992. One of the proposed amendments is to allow the European flag to be flown from a flagstaff without having to apply to the local planning authority for permission to do so. National flags already benefit from this exemption.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what estimates he has made of the number of new affordable homes required to meet demand; what plans he has to increase the provision of affordable houses; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Raynsford: While the Government have from time to time commissioned studies of the extent and nature of housing need to inform our views on the requirement for affordable housing in England, we believe that neither national nor regional estimates can adequately reflect the wide diversity of needs and priorities which exist at the local level. For these reasons the Government believe that local authorities are best placed to carry our robust assessments of housing need in their areas.
This Government are already making available an additional £5 billion for investment in housing over the life of this Parliament. Much of this is spent on tackling the repairs backlog, but local authorities are able to use these resources to invest in additional affordable housing, where this best meets local needs and priorities. In addition, local authorities have powers to require affordable homes to be provided as part of new developments.
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