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Transport Infrastructure/House Building

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what his Department's responsibilities are in relation to the environmental impact of (a) transport infrastructure development and (b) house building proposals. [7879]

Ms Keeble: Proposals for transport infrastructure and housing development, which are likely to have significant effects on the environment come within the scope of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive (85/337/EEC as amended). The DTLR is the lead Department responsible for implementation of the Directive. The EIA procedure requires a developer to compile an Environmental Statement, which includes detailed information about the proposed development, the main effects it is likely to have on the environment, and the mitigation measures envisaged to deal with adverse effects. This information must be taken into account by the competent authority in reaching a decision on the proposal. For most projects falling within the scope of the Directive, for which planning permission is needed, the local planning authority is the competent authority, though in cases that are called in or subject to appeal the Secretary of State has to ensure compliance with EIA requirements. For some projects, for example proposals for new national roads, the Secretary of State is the competent authority.

Farmers' Markets

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what representations he has received regarding existing planning constraints on the development of farmers' markets. [7864]

Ms Keeble: The Department has received a range of representations on planning arrangements for the temporary use of land for purposes including farmers' markets. Part 4 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 (GPDO) SI 1995 No 418 grants a general planning permission for the temporary use of land for up to 28 days in any calendar year, subject to a number of restrictions and conditions. In the case of markets, the permitted use is limited to a total of 14 days in recognition of the parking, litter and noise problems that often arise from such uses.

Guidance to planning authorities in PPG6 "Town Centres & Retail Developments" and PPG7 "The Countryside" encourage farm diversification and acknowledge that farm shops can help meet the demand for fresh produce as well as providing new sources of jobs and services in rural areas. Farmers' markets can also provide such a service. Farmers' markets have been established successfully throughout the country in recent years.

Electoral Commission

Mr. Allen: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make it

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Her Majesty's Government's policy to provide all hon. Members with the full report of the Electoral Commission. [7124]

Dr. Whitehead: The Commission, which is directly answerable to Parliament, has placed a copy of its full report on the 2001 parliamentary general election in the Library of the House and has provided all hon. Members with a summary copy of the report. The full report, as well as the Commission's overview of the election campaign, is also available on the Electoral Commission's website. It would not be appropriate for the Government to supplement the independent Commission's measures, which in any event it could do only at disproportionate cost.

Elections (Turnout)

Mr. Allen: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what discussions he has had on Her Majesty's Government's policy for increasing turnout at elections; and when he expects to issue proposals aimed at increasing turnout. [7123]

Dr. Whitehead: Earlier this month, I, together with the chairmen of the Electoral Commission and the Local Government Association, jointly invited local authorities to apply to run a wide range of innovative electoral pilot projects—including all-postal voting and on-line voting—to test new electoral procedures designed to increase the accessibility of voting and make it suit modern lifestyles more appropriately. Such changes to the method of voting should help to increase turnout, but only if, as the Electoral Commission has stated in its report on the 2001 general election,

Vehicle Excise Licences

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what steps he plans to take to improve enforcement against vehicle excise licence offences; and if he will make a statement. [8008]

Mr. Jamieson: Vehicle excise duty evasion currently stands at 3.9 per cent. of revenue due (down from 4.1 per cent. in 1994). We have a number of measures in hand further to improve performance in this area.

As a result of the success of the wheelclamping scheme for VED evasion there are plans to expand this operation. In addition, last week the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency launched a scheme involving the use of mobile Automatic Number Plate Reader systems to detect and deter unlicensed vehicles on the move. DVLA is also working very closely with the police and local authorities to develop new methods for tackling the evasion problem.

Fishing Communities

Mr. Blizzard: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, pursuant to

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the answer of 19 July 2001, Official Report, column 320W, on fishing communities, if he will list the (a) ports affected and (b) weight of the catch at each port. [6644]

Ms Keeble: The ports used to calculate the allocation to RDAs for the Fisheries Regeneration Initiative, and the weight of their catch, are as follows:

Thousand tonnes

Port of landing Quantity
North Shields1.54
River Fal-Falmouth0.66

This information came from the 1999 catches of Demersal Species by Port of Landing compiled by MAFF. This was the most up to date information available when the calculations were made.

Civil Servants (Retirement Age)

Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will list the compulsory retirement ages which apply to employees of his Department and of executive agencies and other public sector bodies for which it is responsible, broken down by grade or job title. [7235]

Dr. Whitehead: Information on the normal retirement age and on compulsory early retirement or severance for my Department and for the executive agencies and public sector bodies for which it is responsible is as follows:

There are the following exceptions:

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The following executive agencies have these variations:

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