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Mr. Fearn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement on the accuracy of the information available from the Ordnance Survey on the mean high water springs tide-contour around Britain's coastline. 
Ms Beverley Hughes: Ordnance Survey tide lines have been surveyed at the basic scale of survey in the region and may have been surveyed at 1:1250, 1:2500 or 1:10000 scale using photogrammetric or ground survey methods. Interpolation between tide gauges around the coast is used to obtain the tidal heights and/or tide times depending on survey method along intervening stretches of coastline.
In England and Wales, mean high water is the high water mark of an ordinary or average tide. In Scotland, mean high water springs is used and is the high water mark of an average spring tide. Mean high water heights for example can vary along the coast from a minimum of 0.09 meters to a maximum of 5.62 meters above Newlyn Datum. Ordnance Survey uses the Admiralty Tide Tables as the source of tidal height.
Mr. Allan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what the policy of his Department is towards the establishment of lists of buildings of local historical interest by local authorities. 
Ms Beverley Hughes: Planning Policy Guidance Note 15 "Planning and the Historic Environment"--which is published jointly by my Department and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport--advises that it is open to local planning authorities to draw up lists of locally important buildings. Although such lists do not have the status of the statutory ones, planning authorities can formulate appropriate development plan policies for the protection of buildings on them, through normal development control procedures.
Mr. Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when his Department will make available to parish councils further copies of the summary on the White Paper on rural England. 
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Mr. Mullin: The Deputy Prime Minister wrote to the Clerks of parish councils in England in December 2000, enclosing a copy of the full text of the Rural White Paper. This letter also gave information on how to obtain further copies of the free White Paper summary.
A consultation exercise seeking views on possible changes to the planning laws relating to telecommunications masts and associated guidance ended on 31 October 2000. The Department is currently analysing the responses. We shall announce any changes as soon as practicable.
Sir Sydney Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when consultations on the energy efficiency section of the building regulations began; when the closing date for responses was set; and what the expected implementation date of the new or revised regulations will be in England and Wales. 
Mr. Raynsford: Consultations on proposals for amendments to the energy efficiency provisions in the building regulations began when they were published on 15 June last year, and the closing date for responses was 29 September. The proposals are now being reconsidered by officials in my Department in conjunction with the Building Regulations Advisory Committee in the light of the excellent and extensive response. I expect to be able to make the first stage amendments in the summer, and to bring these into force some six months later.
Mr. Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what guidance he has issued to local authorities on height restrictions on new developments adjacent to existing properties. 
Ms Beverley Hughes: Where new development requires a planning application, it is for the local planning authority to decide it, having regard to the development plan for the area. The Department's Planning Policy Guidance Note 1 says that development plans should contain appropriate and straightforward policies on design, including the relationship of development to neighbouring properties. "By Design", published by the Department and the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, emphasises the importance of consideration by local planning authorities of height and massing in relation to adjoining buildings.
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Permitted development rights granted by the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 mean that certain extensions to buildings, and new buildings in gardens, do not require a planning application.
Mr. Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many waste incinerator sites have been identified in the County of Essex; where they are located; and what steps he plans to take to amend his policy on waste to take account of Essex County Council's amendment to the draft Waste Local Plan. 
Mr. Mullin: The draft Essex and Southend Waste Local Plan identifies eight sites for major waste management facilities but does not prescribe what type of facility should be provided at each one. The sites are Rivenhall Airfield, Silver End; Land east of Warren Lane, Stanway; Whitehall Road, Colchester; North Weald Airfield, North Weald Bassett, Epping Forest; Courtauld Road, Basildon; Pitsea Landfill site, Basildon; Rayleigh sub-station, A129/A130, Rayleigh; and Sandon, Chelmsford.
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As set out in Waste Strategy 2000 (Command 4693) published in May, the Government do not expect incineration with energy recovery to be considered before the opportunities for recycling and composting have been explored. The choice of waste facilities is a matter for local councils to take into consultation with their local communities.
Mr. Alan Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many households are defined as fuel-poor on the basis of (a) income including housing benefit and mortgage interest support, (b) income excluding housing benefit and mortgage interest support and (c) income excluding housing expenditure. 
Mr. Meacher: The common definition of a fuel poor household is one that needs to spend in excess of 10 per cent. of household income in order to maintain a satisfactory heating regime. Using data from the latest English House Condition Survey, the table shows the effect of different options for calculating household income on the number of households defined as fuel poor in 1996.
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|Number of households defined as fuel poor in England in 1996(1) (Million)||Fuel poor households as a percentage of all households in England(2)|
|(a) Income including Housing Benefit and Income Support for mortgage interest||4.3||22|
|(b) Income excluding Housing Benefit and Income Support for mortgage interest||5.3||27|
|(c) Income excluding housing expenditure||6.8||35|
(1) Assumes fuel costs include those for non-heating purposes.
(2) Total number of households in England in 1996 was 19.6 million.
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Mr. Alan Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what he estimates to be the reduction in numbers of fuel-poor households since 1996 and the amount of reduction attributed to (a) improved energy efficiency, (b) reduced fuel prices and (c) increased household income. 
Mr. Meacher: Using data from the 1996 English House Condition Survey (EHCS), it was estimated that in 1996 there were either 4.3 million or 5.3 million households in fuel poverty using the definitions at (a) and (b) respectively.
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A follow-up study to the 1996 EHCS was carried out in 1998. Data from the study are in the process of being prepared and the first analysis should be complete during 2001. This should help to confirm the accuracy of the 1999 estimates. The next full EHCS will be carried out in 2001.
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