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Benefit Overpayments

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security, pursuant to his answer of 4 April 2000, Official Report, column 447W, on benefit overpayments, if he will estimate, in relation to the overpayments which took place on 17 and 18 January, the total (a) value of the benefits recovered so far, (b) number of customers who have repaid the overpayment in full and (c) number of customers who have paid none of the overpayment; and if he will estimate the total cost in administration and in unreturned benefit of the overpayment. [132360]

Angela Eagle: Administration of benefits and recovery of overpayments is matter for the Chief Executive of the Benefits Agency, Alexis Cleveland. She will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Alexis Cleveland to Mr. Paul Burstow, dated 25 July 2000:


Waste Incinerators

Mr. Opik: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has to seek to exclude farm and hunt kennel incinerators

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from the new European directive on waste incinerators; and if he will make a statement. [131477]

Mr. Hill: In negotiations on the European Parliament's proposed amendments to the waste incineration Directive proposal, the UK has made clear that it would like the text to exclude animal carcase incinerators provided that they are subject to alternative appropriate environmental regulation. We are now confident that the directive when it is adopted will include text intended specifically to exclude animal carcase incinerators with the proviso that the Commission intends to propose a revision to the animal waste directive providing for high environmental standards for incineration and co-incineration of animal waste.

Contaminated Land

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) what steps he is taking to encourage research into contaminated land remediation; [132100]

Mr. Mullin: Public funding is made available for contaminated land research on a variety of topics, including its remediation. This is undertaken by a number of bodies, including my Department, the Environment Agency, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, English Partnerships, the Natural Environment Research Council, the Biotechnology and Biological Research Council, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the Economic and Social Research Council, and the Medical Research Council. Further projects are being funded through various European programmes, including Life and the Fifth Framework Programme for Research and Development.

In addition, this type of research is an approved objective under the landfill-tax credit scheme.

It is not possible to provide a detailed breakdown of research specifically related to the remediation of contaminated land since funding programmes and individual projects within these programmes typically relate to wider issues than just remediation.

My Department has recently let a contract for a contaminated-land research audit. This aims to assess current contaminated-land research programmes and to identify gaps or duplication of effort and suggest ways to improve access to the results.

Figures for the amount of land that has been remediated in each of the last 10 years are not available. Most of this remediation has taken place as a result of voluntary action by landowners (for example, the redevelopment of brownfield sites). Statistics are not recorded when development takes place.

Croydon Tramlink

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what the net cost is of the Croydon Tramlink project under the Private Finance Initiative; what the value is of public

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sector comparators in (a) pre-risk and (b) risk adjusted terms and what risks are identified as having been transferred; and if he will make a statement. [132269]

Mr. Hill: Croydon Tramlink was designed, built and is being operated by Tramtrack Croydon Ltd. (TCL), a private sector consortium, under a concession agreement with London Regional Transport made in 1996. Under the concession agreement TCL bear the risks associated with the construction and operation of the project. The Government made a fixed contribution of £125 million towards the projected capital cost of £200 million, in recognition of the wider benefits of Tramlink to the local area. TCL raised the remainder of the cost and run the system without public subsidy.

Best Value

Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions to what extent the costs to local authorities of implementing the best value regime are allowed for in SSAs. [132440]

Ms Beverley Hughes: The Government added £24.25 million to the 2000-01 SSA totals to cover the cost of Best Value audit and inspection fees. Our spending plans for local government take into account the costs of implementing Best Value, together with the improvements in cost effectiveness that will flow from it.


Mr. Spring: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when he expects funding to be allocated for the upgrading of the A11 from Barton Mills to The Ford; and when he expects construction work to begin. [132539]

Mr. Hill [holding answer 25 July 2000]: Funding for the preparation of this scheme was confirmed in March this year.

The scheme is at an early stage in its development and progress is of course, dependent upon statutory procedures. It is therefore too early to identify a possible date for the start of works.

Railways (Wales)

Mr. Wigley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how much of the additional resources for rail transport, announced in the Spending Review 2000, will be ear-marked for railway services in Wales. [132793]

Mr. Hill: None of the additional resources announced in the Spending Review 2000 have been allocated to particular parts of Great Britain.

Waste Imports

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make it his policy to prohibit the importation of waste for use in energy-from-waste plants. [131663]

Mr. Mullin: Existing policies on imports of waste are set out in the legally binding United Kingdom Management Plan for Exports and Imports of Waste, which came into effect in June 1996.

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The UK Plan prohibits most waste imports for disposal, including imports of municipal waste for final disposal, in line with longstanding UK policies of encouraging developed countries to become as self-sufficient as possible in waste disposal. Consistent with the EC Waste Shipments Regulation (EEC) No. 259-93, though, the UK Plan cannot prohibit imports of wastes for recovery, which could include incineration with energy recovery. However, individual shipments of municipal wastes for recovery require the prior consent of the UK enforcement authorities. There may be grounds for objecting to proposed shipments if the primary purpose of the importing facility is to treat local wastes and those wastes will be displaced by the proposed imports.

Available data show that no imports of municipal waste have taken place since the UK Plan took effect.

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