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9 Dec 2003 : Column 384W—continued

Regional Waste Plans

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the status of a local authority waste plan if its policies are in contravention of a regional waste plan. [142307]

Keith Hill: I have been asked to reply.

Local planning authorities are required, in formulating the policies in their development plans, to have regard to regional planning guidance as well as to current national policies. Planning Policy Guidance Note 10 (PPG10), "Planning and Waste Management", sets out a number of matters that waste planning authorities should take into account in developing the waste planning strategy for their area including regional planning guidance on waste management. PPG10 also expects waste planning authorities to plan for a provision of waste management facilities that is consistent with forecasts of local and regional requirements, as well as other planning considerations.

The weight attached to policies in a development plan depends upon the stage of plan preparation or review, increasing as successive stages are reached. Where an adopted or approved development plan contains relevant policies, section 54A of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 requires that an application for planning permission or an appeal shall be determined in accordance with the plan, unless material considerations indicate otherwise.

Rural Transport

Mr. Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the future of the Rural Transport Partnership grants. [142433]

Alun Michael: The Countryside Agency's Rural Transport Partnership grant scheme runs until March 2004, as set out in the 2000 Rural White Paper. The Agency has recently reviewed the scheme and the outcome will feed into the Agency's and Defra's decisions on the future direction and funding of the programme. It is hoped to announce the result with the Agency's settlement in the New year.

Sustainable Development

Julia Drown: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what action she is taking to ensure that her Department's bid to the

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forthcoming Government spending round contributes towards the UK's objectives on sustainable development. [140493]

Alun Michael: Defra's key principle is sustainable development which involves balancing economic, social and environmental considerations and is consistent with the wider approach of government as a whole. In Defra an Integrated Policy Appraisal (IPA) tool, which provides a systematic framework for the identification of the environmental, social and economic impacts of a policy, is actively promoted within the department. We will apply the IPA tool to our spending plans in SR04.


Mr. Gardiner: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs by what means the policy for purchasing timber and timber products of (a) the Department, (b) the Centre for Science Laboratory, (c) the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, (d) the Pesticides Safety Directorate, (e) the Rural Payments Agency, (f) the Veterinary Laboratories Agency, (g) the Veterinary Medicines Directorate, (h) the Forestry Commission, (i) the Countryside Agency and (j) English Nature ensure that they are obtained from legal and sustainable sources. [141333]

Mr. Morley: Details of the policy for purchasing timber are published on the Sustainable Development in Government Site. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs operates in accordance with this policy by using the model contract specification clause devised by Defra on behalf of all central government departments. This clause is designed to ensure that timber and timber products from legal and sustainable sources are supplied and that contractors provide documentary evidence to prove compliance.

Defra's Estate Strategy and Services Division is responsible for all major works and estate management on the Defra estate and that of the Pesticides Safety Directorate, the Rural Payments Agency, the Veterinary Laboratories Agency and the Veterinary Medicines Directorate. Adherence to the timber policy for the Department and these executive agencies falls to this central body of staff, which is fully appraised of the timber purchase policy.

The central Science Laboratory and Centre for Environmental Fisheries and Aquaculture are responsible for their own buildings and maintenance. They have also been made aware of the policy and have systems in place to ensure observance.

The Countryside Agency has confirmed that it has adopted the Government's policy on Timber Procurement for all construction and fitting-out contracts, as evidenced by the inclusion of "Sustainable Sources Only" Condition/Clause within Invitation to Tender/Contract Specification document.

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The Forestry Commission is the Government Department responsible for forestry policy throughout Great Britain. All the woodland it manages (over 800,000 hectares) has been independently certified as being sustainably managed. On procurement, the Commission implements Government guidance to ensure that timber and timber products it purchases are only from legal and sustainable sources and records details of all such purchases.

English Nature has confirmed that it too is seeking to purchase timber from legal and sustainable sources and that its contracts are drafted to ensure compliance with this policy.

Water Supplies

Dr. Jack Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what statutory responsibilities apply to (a) owners of private water supplies and (b) local authorities to ensure that water supplied for domestic consumption meets legal requirements in respect of (i) lead content and (ii) coliforms; what action they are required to take to ensure that water supplies which fail to meet required standards are improved; and if she will make a statement. [142446]

Mr. Morley: Any person who supplies water in connection with a commercial use is under a general duty of care to consumers, whether the supplier is a commercial supplier or is someone who offers occasional bed and breakfast facilities in their own home.

A local authority has a general duty to take steps to keep itself informed about the wholesomeness and sufficiency of water supplies, including every private water supply, to premises in their area. A supply is normally wholesome if it meets the standards set by the Private Water Supplies Regulations 1991, which include a maximum permitted concentration for lead and a standard of nil coliform bacteria.

Local authorities have a duty to monitor private water supplies at the frequencies set out in the Private Water Supplies Regulations 1991. Frequency depends on daily volume of supply or numbers of consumers. There is no statutory monitoring of private supplies that serve single dwellings solely for the daily domestic use of the occupants. Authorities prefer to advise such consumers informally where a supply is unwholesome.

Where a private supply is unwholesome, a local authority may serve a private supply notice, specifying remedial steps, or one or more "relevant persons". The steps may, for example, include installing a water treatment system, replacing lead pipework or taking protective measures at the source to prevent contamination. Such persons may be owners or occupiers of premises supplied by the private supply, or of premises where the source of the supply is situated, or persons exercising management or control in relation to the source.

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Tees Estuary

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what inspection has taken place since their arrival to establish whether alien species are present in the ships which have arrived in Hartlepool for decommissioning by Able UK. [142334]

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Mr. Morley: No inspections have yet been carried out to establish what organisms are present in the ships. Samples of the ballast water will be required to be taken for inspection and analysis before any discharge of ballast water is authorised.

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Mr. Burstow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many children in the age groups (a) 0 to four and (b) five to 14 have died of influenza in each of the last 10 years for which figures are available. [142965]

Ruth Kelly: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician, who has been asked to reply.

Letter from Len Cook to Mr. Paul Burstow, dated 9 December 2003:

Deaths from influenza(5), England and Wales, 1993 to 2002(6)


(5) Selected using code 487 from the International Classification of Diseases Ninth Revision for 1993 to 2000 and codes J10-J11 from the International Classification of Diseases Tenth Revision for 2001 and 2002.

(6) Figures are for deaths occurring in each calendar year.

(7) Excludes deaths under 28 days.

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