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20 Mar 2006 : Column 53W—continued

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER

Accessible Housing Register

Danny Alexander: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many local authorities maintain an accessible housing register. [56286]

Yvette Cooper: Allocations are a matter for local authorities to decide on, based upon local requirements. It is, therefore, up to each local authority to decide whether they wish to maintain an accessible housing register or not. The information requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Airfields

Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what guidance he has issued on residential development on airfields. [57432]

Yvette Cooper: Draft Planning Policy Statement 3: Housing (PPS3), published for consultation on 5 December last year, set out a new policy framework for planning for housing in England, and will replace existing planning policy guidance (set out in Planning Policy Guidance Note 3: Housing (PPG3)) when it is finalised later in the year.

The new policy statement does not change the approach to residential development on airfields.

Brownfield Development (Hampshire)

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the effect on wildlife habitat of brownfield development in local authority areas in Hampshire which include special protection areas; and if he will make a statement. [59061]

Yvette Cooper: None. Any proposals for development on or near to a Special Protection Area (SPA) are subject to the provisions of the Conservation (Natural Habitats Etc) Regulations 1994. Before planning permission can be granted for any development close to a Special Protection Area (SPA), the local authority is required, under the regulations to make an appropriate assessment of the significance of the implications of that development on the SPA. The local authority should consult English Nature and have regard to any representations that it might make. If there are no alternative solutions, the authority may only agree to
 
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development that will adversely affect the integrity of the SPA if it can demonstrate that there are imperative reasons of overriding public interest.

Building Regulations

Mr. Pelling: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will bring forward proposals to strengthen Part E of the Building Regulations (England and Wales) as they relate to resistance to the transmission of sound in relation to wooden or laminate floors. [53470]

Yvette Cooper: Sound insulation between dwellings is controlled under Part E of the Building Regulations. The Building Regulations apply to new buildings, and specified types of work in existing buildings. Currently, laying laminated flooring on an existing floor is not specifically controlled under the legislative scheme, and there are no current plans to amend the Building Regulations to provide for this.

Mr. Amess: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what guidance he has given local authorities to ensure the consistent application of Part M of the Building Regulations by building control officers. [54197]

Yvette Cooper: Guidance on application of the requirements of Building Regulations is contained in Approved Documents issued with the approval of the First Secretary of State, my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister. The requirements of the regulations are expressed in functional terms (Requirement Ml is that

Every Approved Document states

There is therefore, necessarily, room for discretion in the application of the requirements, though in most cases the guidance in the Approved Document is followed.

Mr. Amess: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many cases there have been of enforcement action against builders for breaches of Part M of the Building Regulations in the last three years; and what the result of the enforcement action was in each case where proceedings are complete. [54198]

Yvette Cooper: The information requested is not held centrally, and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

David Taylor: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the impact on staffing levels in (a) public sector and (b) private sector building control bodies of the technical requirements of the building regulations due to come into effect on 6 April 2006. [53167]

Yvette Cooper: The impact on Building Control Bodies of the technical requirements of Part L of the building regulations due to come into effect in April 2006 was assessed in the draft Regulatory Impact Assessment published in 2004. Since then Building
 
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Control Bodies have helped in refining the proposals and with developing our largest ever information campaign which got under way last July.

The changes in April 2006 will simplify procedures, encourage a more focussed approach to compliance checking and introduce new self-certification schemes. The information campaign aims to ensure that all building control people have the information they need. A final Regulatory Impact Assessment will be published when I lay the 2006 Statutory Instrument.

Carbon Dioxide Emissions

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what estimate he has made of the likely effect on carbon dioxide emissions of domestic conservatory extensions being subject to planning permission and the concomitant energy efficiency standards; and if he will make a statement. [54998]

Yvette Cooper: Conservatories are subject to planning permission and have been for the last half a century. The Planning system does not set specific energy efficiency standards.

Circulars

Sarah Teather: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many circulars his Department issued to local authorities in each year since 1997, broken down by topic. [55773]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister was established on 29 May 2002, since then the ODPM has issued a total of 36 circulars. These are broken down as follows:
20022003200420052006
Building1241
Housing11
Local government64
Planning231101

Civil Servants (Foreign Trips)

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many foreign trips paid for by public funds his Department's civil servants have undertaken in each year since 1997. [56091]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) was created following the Machinery of Government changes on 29 May 2002. The detailed information requested is not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

All travel by ODPM staff is conducted in accordance with requirements of the Civil Service Management Code.

Concessionary Travel (Lancashire)

Rosie Cooper: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how much funding for the concessionary travel scheme has been allocated to Lancashire county council; what this represents as a percentage of the council's total budget; and whether this money is ringfenced. [57894]


 
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Mr. Woolas: Concessionary travel is one of the services supplied by Shire district councils in two-tier areas.

It is not possible to calculate how much funding has been allocated to each district-level authority with respect to concessionary fares, since this is funded through an unhypothecated formula grant. This means that authorities are able to use the grant for any purpose. The total amount added to the RSG was £350 million which was distributed through the lower tier EPCS formula.

Correspondence

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister when he will reply to the letter of 20 December 2005 from the hon. Member for Aylesbury about the case of Mr. D. W. of Stokenchurch, Bucks. [58721]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The hon. Member's letter has been transferred to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) as it relates to issues which are the responsibility of that Department. DWP will therefore respond directly. I apologise to the hon. Member for the delay that occurred in transferring the letter.


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