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Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what factors underlay the decision to delay the submission in draft of the United Kingdom discharge strategy to the OSPAR Commission meeting in Denmark in June; and what considerations led to the decision to submit the document to the meeting. 
Mr. Meacher: Publication of the Consultation Document on the UK Strategy for Radioactive Discharges 2001-2020 was not delayed: it was published as soon as possible after the document was finalised. The document was not submitted to the June meeting of the OSPAR Commission but, after publication, copies were circulated to those attending the meeting, since it was relevant to the discussions at the meeting on the implementation of the OSPAR Strategy with regard to Radioactive Substances.
Mr. Gordon Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when he will publish the UK contribution to the OSPAR Quality Status report for the Celtic Seas Region. 
Mr. Mullin: I have today published a "Quality Status Report of the Marine and Coastal Areas of the Irish Sea and Bristol Channel". This report was prepared for my Department by the Centre for the Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) as part of the work involved in preparing the "Quality Status Report of the Celtic Seas" which was launched by the OSPAR Commission on 30 June.
The report published today summarises and evaluates information on the current health of the coastal and marine environment of the Irish Sea and Bristol Channel, and the impact of man's activities upon these areas. The
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assessment shows that the marine environment of the Irish Sea and Bristol Channel is generally in a good state of health, although it highlights over-fishing, endocrine- disrupting chemicals and the pressure for more intensive use of coastal land as being of particular concern. Its conclusions are relevant to policy considerations and to decisions affecting future developments near the coasts, and to the setting of conservation priorities.
In addition, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) have today published a "Directory of the Celtic Coasts and Seas". This document was commissioned by DETR to complement the OSPAR "Quality Status Report of the Celtic Seas". The Directory describes the physical characteristics of the coastline of the Celtic Seas, the marine influences which affect it and regionally important habitats and species. It also describes the national, European and international measures which have been adopted to protect the natural resources in the area.
Dr. Strang: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how much money each local authority received from the Government under the rural bus subsidy scheme in (a) 1998-99 and (b) 1999-2000; and how much each local authority is expected to receive in 2000-01. 
Mr. Hill: My Department is responsible only for Rural Bus Subsidy Grant (RBSG) payments to English local authorities; the figures requested for these authorities are set out in the table. In February this year we announced that RBSG was to continue for a further three years from March 2001. In addition to support under the rural bus subsidy scheme we have also provided £28 million for 104 schemes approved in the first two Rural Bus Challenge competitions in 1998 and 1999; a further £20 million is available for this year's Challenge competition.
|RBSG 1998-99 Payment||RBSG 1999-2000 Payment||RBSG 2000-01 Allocation|
|Passenger Transport Authorities|
|Tyne and Wear||54,151||43,759||82,047|
|Bath & North East Somerset||139,000||136,874||139,970|
|Blackburn with Darwen||15,642||36,284||39,026|
|Isle of Wight||145,273||159,000||159,271|
|North East Lincolnshire||42,652||32,331||42,652|
|Redcar and Cleveland||30,713||56,497||56,497|
|Telford and The Wrekin||52,406||76,048||76,048|
|Windsor & Maidenhead||28,000||34,993||50,584|
(1) The total is less than the £32.5 million allocation because the timing of the Budget announcement, and the need to establish a new grant mechanism, meant that the money was spent over less than a full financial year. The balance was transferred to the 1998 Rural Bus Challenge.
(1) Total payments were slightly less than the full total allocation of £32.5 million because unspent grant from the previous year was carried forward and offset against authorities' allocations. Again the balance was transferred to the Challenge competition for that year.
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Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) if, under his proposals for a New Forest national park, the park authority will have to seek the consent of the Verderers Court before proceeding with any recreational development in the open forest; 
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Mr. Mullin: The creation of a National Park in the New Forest would neither repeal nor amend the New Forest Acts, which lay down the powers of the Verderers. A National Park Authority would, therefore, need to obtain any appropriate consent under those Acts before carrying out recreational development. As there would be no change to the New Forest Acts, the Verderers would retain the powers they currently have to prevent development.
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