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4 May 2004 : Column 1387W—continued

Rights of Way

Mr. Allen: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the policy of the rights of way section of her Department is regarding answering the telephone to members of the public on (a) 01173–728–379, (b) 01173–728–957 and (c) other numbers. [169379]

Alun Michael: I assume that my hon. Friend is referring to the difficulties he experienced in getting through to officials in the rights of way branch at Temple Quay House in Bristol on 26 April. The building was experiencing intermittent problems with incoming calls on that day, which is why several attempts had to be made before he was successful.

In normal circumstances telephones are answered promptly. The rights of way branch has a "group pick-up" facility, which links all the telephones in the team, and enables them to take each other's calls when colleagues are absent or away from their desk. This is what happened when the successful call was responded to by a member of the team.

In addition these telephones have a voicemail facility so that callers can leave a message if they wish to, should there be no response.

Mr. Allen: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will set out the history of the request to close the footpath at Cuillan Close, Rise Park; when her Department expects to compete the paperwork necessary to allow Nottingham City Council to close the footpath; and if she will make a statement. [169380]

Alun Michael: Nottingham City Council applied on 20 October 2003 to have the area around the footpath designated under Schedule 6 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. Following an examination of the evidence provided in the second round of applications for designation, I announced my intention to designate 20 areas, including this one, on 9 February. Since the announcement, Officials at Defra have prepared the detailed digital maps necessary for the legal process and consulted the relevant local authorities about them.

I have laid the order that designates this area of Nottingham, along with areas in Brighton and Hove, Leeds, York, Middlesbrough, Oldham, Swale, Wirral and the London Borough of Hillingdon. It will come into effect on 25 May.

The local authorities concerned can now proceed to consider whether to make orders to divert or extinguish rights of way for the purpose of crime prevention.
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The time taken to complete the process is as frustrating for ministers as it is for MPs and councillors, so I am looking at whether we can strengthen the process for the future, but this is a formal legal process which has to be done centrally.

Severely Disadvantaged Areas

Mr. Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what criteria were used in designating severely disadvantaged areas. [168031]

Alun Michael: The severely disadvantaged areas in the uplands (then termed less favoured areas) were first designated following the physical, economic and demographic assessment laid down in Article 3(4) of Council Directive 75/268. In 1999, this Article was replaced by Article 19 of Council Regulation 1257/1999 (the so-called rural development Regulation). They are characterised by land of poor productivity which is difficult to cultivate and mainly suitable for extensive livestock farming; and by a risk of land abandonment, which could impair the conservation of the countryside and the viability of communities in the area.

Mr. Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on what support schemes farmers in severely disadvantaged areas will be able to apply for. [168033]

Alun Michael: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 17 March 2004, Official Report, column 271W.



Mr. Cummings: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many deaths and serious injuries have   been sustained on the section of the A19 which runs through the Easington constituency in the last 10 years. [170119]

Mr. Jamieson: The available information relates to local authority areas. The number of deaths and serious injuries sustained in reported injury road accidents on the section of the A19 in the Easington local authority area for the years 1993 to 2002 are shown in the table below. Estimates on the basis of parliamentary constituencies will become available in the summer and I shall write to my hon. Friend with figures Easington and place a copy of my letter in the Libraries of the House.
Fatal and Serious Casualties on the A19 within Easington(LA area): 1993–2002


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Cycle Lanes (Battersea)

Martin Linton: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many miles of new cycle lanes have been provided using public funds in Battersea since 1997. [169767]

Mr. McNulty: The promotion of cycling in London is a matter for the Mayor of London and Transport for London. This strategy is delivered, in part, by the individual Boroughs such as Wandsworth. The Mayor's policies on cycling can be found in his Transport Strategy at the following link:

Lane Rental

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he received the final report by Halcrow on the lane rental pilot in Camden and Middlesbrough; and on what date it will be made public. [170653]

Mr. Jamieson: I expect to receive the final report on the lane rental pilots around the end of June. Copies of the report would be placed in the Libraries of the House shortly afterwards.

Off-shore Wind Farms

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the risk of obstruction to the Port of London from the London array wind farm; and what representations he has received on the issue from the maritime industry. [168263]

Mr. Darling: The developer of the London Array wind farm in seeking consent for the project must make a thorough assessment of the potential impact of the proposed installation on navigation and ports. The developer must demonstrate to my satisfaction in the case of a Coast Protection Act 1949 consent or that of the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry in the case of an Order under the Transport and Works Act 1992 that their development, in combination with others that may be in the vicinity, does not present a danger or significant obstruction to navigation. In reaching that decision either Secretary of State will take advice from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and, in the case of the London Array, the Port of London Authority. Any person or organisation who has an interest in the matter may make representations to the relevant Minister and these will be taken into account in the decision making process.

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what consultation he has (a) undertaken and (b) planned with maritime groups about the impact of offshore wind farms on marine navigation. [168264]

Mr. Darling: My Department is consulting the shipping and ports industries on the potential cumulative impact on navigational safety of wind farms being developed on the sites for which The Crown Estate has offered leases. In the light of the outcome of this exercise, developers are able to apply to The Crown Estate, between 1 September to 31 December 2004, to adjust the location of their proposed wind farm. In addition, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency is
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consulting on a revised publication giving guidance on the navigational safety issues which developers shall need to take into account in seeking consent for their projects. This consultation is closing on 7 June 2004 with a view to publishing the revised guidance later this summer.

Officials from my Department together with officials from the Department of Trade and Industry met representatives of the shipping and ports industries on 28 January 2004. Also one of my officials was present when they met the Energy Minister on 16 March 2004 where they were given an assurance that offshore wind farms would not be sited where they present a danger to navigation.

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representations he has made to the Department of Trade and Industry regarding obstruction to shipping lanes from wind farms. [168261]

Mr. Darling: There have been numerous discussions between Departments at ministerial and official level in regard to the obstruction of shipping. The safety of shipping is of paramount importance. Wind farms which would present a significant obstruction or danger to navigation will not receive the development consents from Government which are necessary before projects can be constructed. This Department and the Department of Trade and Industry consult the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and others on navigational safety matters in deciding whether to grant consent for offshore wind farm projects.

The proposed location of an offshore wind farm may require shipping which passes through those waters to re-route around the installation. Where such new patterns of ship traffic could be established without a detrimental effect on the safety of navigation, such a possibility would be considered on a case-by-case basis as part of the assessment of whether consent should be given to the project.

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