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23 Apr 2001 : Column: 84W
comparative weight his Department attaches to planning applications which could have an economic regeneration impact in former colliery sites. 
Ms Beverley Hughes: Section 54A of the Town and Country Planning Act requires that an application for planning permission or an appeal shall be determined in accordance with the development plan, unless material considerations indicate otherwise. Other considerations may include Government planning policy guidance, as well as the particular circumstances of the case, including the contribution a proposal could make to economic regeneration.
Mr. Trickett: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what guidance he has provided to local planning authorities in relation to the regeneration of former colliery sites. 
Ms Beverley Hughes: No specific guidance has been issued to local planning authorities in relation to the regeneration of former colliery sites. The Government stated in response to the report of the Coalfields Task Force that sufficient flexibility already exists in national planning guidance to permit the development of carefully selected employment sites.
Mr. Trickett: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what steps he has taken, and what new initiatives he proposes, to bring about the regeneration of former colliery sites in the Yorkshire area. 
Ms Beverley Hughes: Twenty-eight former colliery sites, covering in excess of 1,200 hectares, are located in Yorkshire. 26 of these are within the portfolio of Yorkshire Forward. The reclamation and servicing of these sites is being taken forward through the 10-year National Coalfield Programme.
Work has already commenced on 16 of the Yorkshire sites. To date 247 hectares of derelict land has been reclaimed, with a further 286 hectares in the process of being reclaimed; 2,400 job opportunities have been created; about 60,000 sq m of floorspace constructed and £40 million of private sector investment secured. Reclamation work on a further four of the sites is expected to commence during the current year.
The Coalfields Regeneration Trust has provided over £4.3 million in grants to the coalfields communities in the Yorkshire region. The Trust provides grants for smaller voluntary and community groups, through its development worker team, to help strengthen community identities. It also supports intermediate labour market projects that involve the training and employment of local people--projects that support lifelong learning. Following the Government's recent decision to provide an additional £45 million to the trust over the three years to March 2005, the trust is developing rolling regional plans to ensure that its actions meet regional needs. The trust will allow the trust to maintain and develop further its key role in combating poverty, debt and social exclusion in the former coalfield areas.
In addition to these coalfield-specific programmes a range of national programmes directly benefit the coalmining communities in Yorkshire, including the Single Regeneration Budget, the Housing Investment Programme and the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund. The
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Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, pursuant to the answer of 6 April 2001, Official Report, column 321W, if the Health and Safety Executive will visit the site of the subsidence at Tudor Court School to ascertain that sufficient safety precautions have also been taken in relation to the abutting highway and neighbouring residential properties, and that its requirement to make the subsidence area safe, has been adhered to satisfactorily. 
Mr. Meacher: The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) intends to visit Tudor Court School before the start of the summer term. The HSE has been in contact with the Highways Authority and the Building Control Department of Thurrock council about concerns over subsidence in neighbouring areas. They enforce the relevant legislation.
Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many verification missions Euratom has made to United Kingdom nuclear facilities, pursuant to article 35 of the Euratom Treaty since the United Kingdom joined the Treaty; and if he will list the plants involved and date of visit to each. 
Dr. Moonie: Over 60,000 new defence contracts are placed each year and the Ministry of Defence does not routinely analyse all of these on a regional basis. However, it is estimated that the value of defence equipment contracts placed in the north-west of England was £850 million in financial year 1997-98 and £1,200 million in 1998-99. These estimates relate to the locations of defence equipment contractors, and do not take account of the locations of sub-contractors.
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Dr. Moonie: The Ministry of Defence is committed to ensuring that our armed forces have the right equipment, procured in a cost-effective manner that offers the best value for money. When making defence procurement decisions a wide range of factors are taken into account, including possible effects on employment in the UK.
Mr. Hoon: The UK and France announced at Cahors in February the proposal to hold a second EU Capabilities Conference in the autumn. At this Conference, EU member states will identify and commit to the improvements needed to achieve the level of capability set out in the Headline Goal.
30. Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he last met the French Defence Minister to discuss UK and French contributions to European Security and Defence Policy. 
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will define the phrase "pursuit of efforts" used in the presidency report of the European Security and Defence Policy at Nice, in the area of (a) command and control, (b) intelligence and (c) strategic lift under section I(i); and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Hoon: European Security and Defence Policy is about improving European military capability. The European Council at Helsinki decided to develop collective capability goals in the fields of command and control, intelligence and strategic transport. As with the Headline Goal, the European Council at Nice noted efforts made by member states to define and achieve these goals. Member states committed themselves to pursuing efforts to develop and improve these capabilities. They also agreed to take steps to ensure the coherent development of EU and NATO capabilities where they overlap.
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Mr. Hoon: UK participation in any particular operation, and the nature of our contribution (including any potential use of the Reserve Forces), would be matters for decision by the UK Government in the light of circumstances at the time.
Our aim in restructuring the Reserve Forces, particularly for the Territorial Army, was to make it more integrated with regular forces and defence plans, with a shift in emphasis away from traditional home defence roles, to others such as signallers, artillery, air defence, logisticians and particularly medical services.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the costs of upgrading EU armed forces to comply with the strategic capability requirements as identified in the Presidency report on the European Security and Defence Policy. 
Mr. Hoon: The EU has set itself a target for military capability improvements under the Headline Goal. Commitments by individual nations to meet the targets that they have signed up to are a matter for those nations, as are the ways by which these are achieved.
Many European nations are undertaking restructuring programmes and defence reviews. Defence reviews help to identify the areas where re-prioritisation of defence spending can bring about more effective defence outputs. Improvement in capabilities is not just about spending more money, but spending more effectively.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will define peacemaking as established under the actions of the European Security and Defence Policy; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Hoon: The establishing of conditions for negotiating peace through the disengagement of the warning parties and their withdrawal from a demilitarised zone has been endorsed by EU Ministers as suitable for an EU led force. In this, as in other scenarios, it is assumed that the EU would be acting militarily in accordance with the UN Charter.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on changes to (a) his Department's and (b) NATO's practice in the context of the transparency of comparison of Governments identified in the Appendix to Annexe 1 of the Nice Presidency Guidelines on the European Security and Defence Policy. 
Mr. Hoon: Transparency is necessary to stimulate capability improvement among EU member states, and to ensure coherence with NATO defence planning and Partnership for Peace (PfP) Planning and Review Process (PARP).
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