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A38

Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when he expects the outcome of the SWARMMS investigation into a possible bypass for the A38 at Dobwalls. [146624]

Mr. Hill: The SWARMMS London to south west and south Wales multi-modal study is due to report around the end of 2001. The consultants have been asked to provide an early report on the Dobwalls bypass and I will ensure there are no unnecessary delays in reaching a decision.

Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Act

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when the strategy and aims which will underpin the Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Act 2000 will be published. [146857]

Mr. Meacher: The Government's fuel poverty strategy will be published shortly for consultation. The strategy document will set out the Government's fuel poverty aims and objectives, and the policies to achieve them.

23 Jan 2001 : Column: 529W

Stakeholder Pensions

Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions under what powers local government pension funds are prevented from offering stakeholder pensions. [146487]

Ms Armstrong: Local authorities do not, at present, have the statutory power they would need to offer stakeholder pensions. If proposals for such legislation emerge, they would be considered carefully.

Seat Belts

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has to introduce guidance on extending the seat belt requirement to all school transportation. [146711]

Mr. Hill: All coaches and minibuses that carry groups of children on organised trips must have seat belts available. This applies whether or not they are being used for school transport. Guidance on this requirement was issued in 1996, and copies are available from my Department on request as well as being available on the DETR website.

We will also be requiring seat belts to be provided in all new buses, coaches and minibuses, apart from those specifically designed to carry standing passengers. These regulations will be made shortly, and we intend that they will apply to vehicles first used on or after 1 October 2001. We intend to prepare guidance for businesses on complying with this legislation.

No other guidance is planned on this subject.

Farm Plastic Waste

Mr. Simon Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) if he will introduce a national waste collection scheme for the disposal of waste farm plastics; and if he will make a statement; [146469]

Mr. Mullin: I refer the hon. Member to my answer of 15 January 2001, Official Report, column 23W, to the hon. Member for Ashford (Mr. Green).

Coalfields Regeneration Trust

Tony Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has to extend the life and funding of the Coalfields Regeneration Trust. [146597]

Ms Armstrong: I have been encouraged by the progress made by the Trust since it was set up in September 1999, and the role it has taken in the regeneration of the coalfield areas. In the light of this progress, we are currently discussing options with the Trust for its longer-term funding and hope to make an announcement shortly.

23 Jan 2001 : Column: 530W

Tony Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how much in (a) cash and (b) percentage terms of the money so far allocated by the Coalfields Regeneration Trust has been given to projects in the Cannock Chase area. [146598]

Ms Armstrong: The Coalfields Regeneration Trust has made awards of £36,804,666, of which the Cannock Chase area has been allocated £646,283 (1.76 per cent.). To date a total of £9,418,877 has been paid out, with Cannock receiving £80,855 (0.86 per cent.).

GM Seeds

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what and how many official spot checks were carried out on imported seed supplies with the purpose of detecting the adventitious presence of GM varieties in 2000. [146408]

Mr. Meacher [holding answer 22 January 2001]: The Central Science Laboratory (CSL) has delegated functions under part VI of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to carry out inspection and enforcement with respect to the deliberate release of genetically modified organisms. The GM inspectorate at CSL carried out audits of 14 seed importing companies during 2000. The inspectors concentrated on auditing companies importing oilseed rape seeds for sowing in autumn 2000. All of the main rape seed importers (13 companies) were inspected. The inspectors have now turned their attention to the importers of beet seeds and spring sown oilseed rape. One beet seed importer had been audited before 31 December 2000. The inspections are continuing.

In all cases the GM inspectors checked the companies' records to confirm whether they were operating proper checks and procedures to ensure that no unauthorised GM material was being imported. No problems were identified.

Marine Conservation

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what recommendations the working party evaluating the successes of previous marine nature conservation measures have made; and if their report will be published. [146926]

Mr. Mullin: The Review of Marine Nature Conservation Working Group has not made any recommendations yet. I hope that a report of the Group's deliberations to date will be submitted to Ministers shortly. Once Ministers have seen the report, a decision will be made on how to make it publicly available.

Planning Law

Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has to change planning law, with particular reference to the rights of objectors. [146991]

Mr. Raynsford: We have no immediate plans to introduce planning legislation which would affect the rights of objectors.

New Forest

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what

23 Jan 2001 : Column: 531W

administrative arrangements he plans to put in place to resolve potential overlapping responsibilities between the proposed New Forest park authority and the Lymington harbour commissioners regarding the management scheme for salt marsh and mud flats designated as a special area of conservation. [145150]

Mr. Mullin: Under Regulation 34 of the Conservation (Natural Habitats etc.) Regulations 1994, a single Management Scheme has to be prepared for each European Marine Site. That for the Solent is in the early stages of preparation and is currently planned to be published in November 2003. The Management Scheme, which will be drawn up as a partnership exercise by all the relevant authorities involved, should provide an agreed protocol on which authority should take the lead where responsibilities would otherwise overlap.

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if the proposed New Forest national park authority will be a relevant authority for the purposes of the habitat regulations in respect of the salt marsh and mud flats special area of conservation which is the responsibility of the Lymington harbour commissioners. [145151]

Mr. Mullin: If a New Forest National park authority is the local planning authority in relation to land or waters within or adjacent to a european marine site, it will be a relevant authority for the purposes of the habitats regulations. Neither the boundary of a possible New Forest national park nor the precise administrative arrangements for a New Forest national park authority have yet been set.

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what arrangements he proposes to put in place to administer the structure of coastal management in the Solent between the European maritime site and the proposed New Forest national park. [145152]

Mr. Mullin: The arrangements for coastal management will depend on the boundary of a New Forest national park, currently being considered as part of the designation process, and the precise administrative arrangements adopted for a New Forest national park authority.

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what effect his proposals for a New Forest national park will have upon the jurisdiction and responsibilities discharged by the Lymington harbour commissioners. [145153]

Mr. Mullin: The Lymington harbour commissioners constitute an independent statutory body under their own Act of Parliament, the Pier and Harbour Order (Lymington) Confirmation Act 1951. It is not expected that the creation of a national park would amend the provisions of that Act.


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