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Mobile Phone Masts

Mr. Andrew Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will reconsider the guidance given in PPG8 in respect of the siting of mobile phone masts; and what further research he has commissioned into the effects on health following the Stewart report. [21749]

Ms Keeble: On 22 August 2001 we significantly strengthened the planning arrangements for telecommunications development. We have introduced two sets of regulations and a revised Planning Policy Guidance Note 8, "Telecommunications" (PPG8). The revised PPG8 takes account of the conclusions of the Stewart report. We have no plans to reconsider the guidance.

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The Stewart report recommended that a substantial research programme should be set up to investigate the potential health effects of mobile phone technology as a whole. This programme has been set up by Government under the direction of an independent scientific management committee who have recently assessed a range of research proposals. The first group of projects is expected to start shortly. Information about the research is being made available at

Social Service Departments

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many local authority social service departments have applied to his Department for financial support in the current financial year. [21791]

Dr. Whitehead: Local authorities will have applied for the various types of financial support run by this Department. Records of these applications are not kept centrally. The Department has received a number of representations about the pressures on local authorities' social service budgets. The Government announced an additional £300 million to cover 2001–02 and 2002–03 to assist councils in building care capacity. We have also recently announced our proposals for the funding of local government revenue expenditure in 2002–03. Provision for spending on Personal Social Services is set to increase by £684 million next year or 6.5 per cent.

Area Cost Adjustments

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how much (a) Tewkesbury's, (b) Cheltenham's and (c) Gloucestershire's revenue support grant has been changed as a result of the area cost adjustment in each of the last 10 years for which figures are available. [21404]

Dr. Whitehead: The Area Cost Adjustment (ACA) is used in calculating Standard Spending Assessments (SSA) for each authority. The table compares total SSA for the 2001–02 local government finance settlement, with what total SSA would have been if the ACA was not included in the grant distribution formulae:

Local authority2001–02 Settlement SSA (£ million)Without ACA (£ million)Absolute difference (£ million)Percentage difference

There is an interaction between the ACA and deprivation indicators in the formulae which means that if the ACA is excluded, the weighting given to deprivation changes. This is why the impact of leaving out the ACA varies between authorities. The figures should be treated as approximate. This is because, if the ACA is excluded, it is possible that the analyses on which the formulae are based would find that some of the deprivation and other indicators that appear in the formulae would change. We have assumed that, apart from the ACA, all the other indicators that appear in the formula are the same.

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The ACA methodology has not been changed since 1994–95. The consequence of leaving out the ACA will therefore be broadly the same as the above figures for other years since then.

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will list the local authorities which were net recipients under the area cost adjustment scheme in each of the last 10 years; and if he will make a statement. [21405]

Dr. Whitehead: For the 2002–03 Local Government Finance Settlement, announced for consultation on 4 December, the authorities listed receive an area cost adjustment (ACA).

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The geographical coverage of the ACA has remained the same since 1993–94, although local government reorganisation has taken place over the period. Some of the authorities listed above have changed from district to unitary status, though they received an area cost adjustment in both cases. In some cases, former districts were combined at the time of reorganisation. The predecessor authorities as listed, also received an area cost adjustment:

Predecessor billing authorityReorganised authority
1 April 1995
The Council of:
The Borough of Medina   The Isle of Wight
The Borough of South Wight
The Borough of Brighton   The Borough of Brighton and Hove
The Borough of Hove
1 April 1998
The Borough of Gillingham   The District of the Medway Towns
The City of Rochester upon Medway   (now Medway)

The Greater London Authority took responsibility of the functions of the Receiver for the Metropolitan Police District and the London Fire and Civil Defence Authority from July 2000.

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what plans he has to review the area cost adjustment; and if he will make a statement. [21403]

Dr. Whitehead: We are reviewing the area cost adjustment as part of our current review of all the grant distribution formulae. We intend to implement changes in the 2003–04 local government finance settlement. We are actively involving local government in the review process, and all relevant papers are available on the Local Government Association website.

High Hedges

Mr. Gareth R. Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions when the project by the Building Research Establishment and Tree

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Advice Trust to develop an objective way of assessing the obstruction of light by hedges will be completed; and when the report will be published. [22164]

Ms Keeble: The Building Research Establishment (BRE) and Tree Advice Trust have now completed their project to develop an objective method for assessing whether high hedges block too much daylight and sunlight to adjoining properties, and to provide guidance on hedge heights to alleviate these problems.

Copies of the final report of their work, together with guidelines for calculating hedge height, have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. These documents are also being published on my Department's website.

The guidelines explain how to calculate whether a hedge is likely to block out too much light from a garden and from the main rooms of a house. In relation to gardens, the procedure looks at what portion of the garden is shaded by the hedge and what direction it faces. For the rooms of a house, the main factor is the distance from its windows to the hedge. Some of the details of this formula have been refined in the light of the results of consultation and field-testing on a sample of problem hedges.

We want to encourage people to apply the BRE guidelines to their problem hedge and to use the results to try to settle matters with their neighbours amicably. We will, therefore, be preparing a leaflet specifically designed for this purpose. It will include a simplified version of the BRE guidelines as well as advice on how people might approach their neighbours with this information to try and agree a solution. We will be involving local authority, professional, consumer and advice groups in its development and expect to launch the leaflet in spring next year.

We recognise, of course, that in some cases guidance and voluntary action is no substitute for a legal remedy. We remain committed, therefore, to bringing forward legislation to set up a statutory complaints system for dealing with high hedge problems as soon as there is space in the Parliamentary timetable.

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