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Mr. Hurst: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many elderly persons' homes there were in the (a) county of Essex and (b) unitary boroughs of Thurrock and Southend-on-Sea in (i) 1971, (ii) 1981, (iii) 1991 and (iv) 2001. 
|County of Essex|
(10) Information not readily available
(11) Included within "county" figure above
John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what timescale there is relating to the removal of the roundabouts between Blythe and Peterborough on the A1. 
Linda Perham: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what recent guidance he has issued to local authorities on the procedure for considering major planning applications. 
Ms Keeble: On Friday 2 November 2001, the Government announced new targets for 200203 for local authorities' handling of planning applications. The new targets for major planning applications are that 60 per cent. of major industrial, commercial and residential applications should be decided within 13 weeks.
12 Dec 2001 : Column: 878W
Mr. Byers: As part of our fundamental review of the planning system, we have decided that as from today we will give reasons for our decision not to call in planning applications. This decision, which forms part of the raft of measures in our Planning Green Paper published today, is in the interests of transparency, good administration and best practice. The Courts have established that there is no legal obligation to provide reasons for not calling in an application.
It should be borne in mind that the issue before him for decision is not whether the application should be granted planning permission but whether or not he should call it in for his own determination. The Secretary of State's policy on calling in planning applicationswhich is to be very selectiveis set out in the written reply by the then Minister for the Regions, Regeneration and Planning, my right hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Central (Mr. Caborn) to a parliamentary question on 16 June 1999, Official Report, column 138. That approach is not to interfere with the jurisdiction of local planning authorities unless it is necessary to do so. Local planning authorities are normally best placed to make decisions relating to their areas and it is right that, in general, they should be free to carry out their duties responsibly, with the minimum of interference.
Mr. Jamieson: Section 1 of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL), which runs from the Channel Tunnel to Fawkham Junction in Kent, is expected to be completed and operational in 2003. Section 2, from Ebbsfleet in Kent to St. Pancras in London, is expected to be completed and operational in 2007.
Mr. Syms: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what the total costs up to 1 December associated with the negotiations for the Channel Tunnel Rail Link are. 
Mr. Jamieson: The Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions employs a number of consultants who advise on engineering, financial, legal and other issues related to the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL). Their work has recently included the negotiations for finalising section 2 of the CTRL, and negotiations with Railtrack relating to their purchase of section 1. The total annual budget for CTRL advisers is around £7 million.
Mr. Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what recent research he has undertaken to assess the impact of aircraft noise and sleep disturbance; and if he will make a statement. 
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Mr. Jamieson: The Department of Transport in 1992 published the "Report of a Field Study of Aircraft Noise and Sleep Disturbance". This was and remains the largest UK study of the relationship between aircraft noise and physical sleep disturbance.
"Adverse effects of night-time aircraft noise" (Porter et al., NATS/DORA R&D Report 9964, March 2000)
"Aircraft Noise and Sleep1999 UK Trial Methodology Study" (Flindell et al., ISVR, Southampton University, November 2000)
"Perceptions of Aircraft Noise, Sleep and Health" (Diamond et al., DSS, Southampton University, December 2000).
The then Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, North-East (Mr. Ainsworth), announced in May 2001 that as a new full-scale objective study into sleep disturbance would be unlikely to add significantly to our understanding, the Government would concentrate instead on further research into subjective responses to annoyance by night and by day. Since that announcement a contract for the project has been awarded and a steering group representing aviation and environmental interests has been formed to oversee the work, and has met once. We are also setting up a peer review group representing both national and international experts. As well as re-assessing the association between the Leq index and reported annoyance the study will attempt to examine subjective valuation of the nuisance from aircraft noise.
Mr. Stinchcombe: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many motorists qualified for a VED rebate because they bought a licence for the year starting July 2000 with half yearly payments. 
Mr. Jamieson: Licences taken out between July and October 2000 did not qualify for the rebate. The total number of six-monthly licences taken out in the period November 2000 to June 2001 was approximately 2.8 million.
Mr. Stinchcombe: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many hon. Members have made representations to his Department about constituents who missed out on a VED rebate because they bought their licences for the year starting July 2000 with a single payment. 
Mr. Syms: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what research he has commissioned into the effectiveness of the goods vehicle excise duty relief scheme; and if he will publish the results of this research. 
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Mr. Jamieson: The rebate scheme for goods vehicle excise duty had two stages: a rebate of up to 50 per cent. of the cost of a licence against licences in force on 30 November 2000; and a similar rebate against all licences taken out between December 2000 and November 2001. Following these transitional arrangements a new structure of vehicle excise duty for goods vehicles came into effect on 1 December 2001.
Rebates totalling £236 million were paid out in respect of some 250,000 goods vehicles against licences in force on 30 November 2000. Although the total amount rebated against licences taken out between December 2000 and November 2001 has yet to be finalised, it is expected to be of a similar order.
The Government have not formally commissioned any research on the impact of these rebate schemes. The Road Haulage Forum gives Ministers and the haulage industry a regular opportunity to discuss, take account of and assess the impacts of fiscal and other factors affecting the haulage industry.
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