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Mr. Rob Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what funds he has made available for transport infrastructure schemes in the Thames Valley in the last eight years, broken down by local authority area. 
Gillian Merron: Since the Local Transport Settlement in December 1998 the Thames Valley area has received £370 million for local transport improvements and maintenance schemes. This figure is broken down in the following table. In addition Buckinghamshire county council is receiving £32.5 million for the A4146 Stoke Hammond and Linslade Western Bypass.
|Funding for integrated transport block and capital highways maintenance|
In addition, the Government are providing record levels of funding for railways infrastructure through the passenger franchises and by direct grant to Network Rail. This funding is not classified by local
authority area, but the Thames Valley local authority areas have benefited from work by Network Rail to address the rail infrastructure renewals backlog. Particular local authorities have benefited from rail enhancement projects, including Buckinghamshire from improvements to the Chiltern Line and Berkshire authorities from replacement of slam door rolling stock on the Reading/WindsorWaterloo route.
The Prime Minister: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given by my hon. Friend the then Parliamentary Secretary for the Cabinet Office (Mr. Murphy) to my hon. Friend the Member for Cannock Chase (Dr. Wright) on 8 November 2005, Official Report, column 159.
Mrs. Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 9 March 2006, Official Report, column 942, on avian influenza, what steps the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State has taken to hold discussions with the Association of Local Government Ecologists. 
Mr. Bradshaw: At the request of the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, DEFRA officials held discussions with Mr. Steve Moon, Chair of the Association of Local Government Ecologists. An offer was extended to Mr. Moon, or another representative of the association, to participate in the DEFRA avian influenza stakeholder group. This offer was declined.
Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what legislation would be required to implement the Countryside Agencys coastal access proposals; 
(4) how many people were involved in the consultation by the Countryside Agency on coastal access; what the cost of the consultation is; which areas are involved in the consultation; what questions are being asked; and when he expects (a) the consultation to be completed and (b) the findings to be passed to him; 
Barry Gardiner: In line with DEFRAs five-year strategy we are looking at ways to improve access to the English coast. We have asked the Countryside Agency, working together with its Natural England partners, English Nature and the Rural Development Service, to undertake additional research and analysis to identify a range of options.
As part of this work, the Natural England partnership has taken forward an information- gathering exercise to collect data on a national basis to develop a comprehensive picture of the coast and existing access provision. Advice will be submitted to DEFRA at the end of July, and will serve to inform a full public consultation paper in October. The consultation will discuss the best ways to improve access to the English coast, including costs and any legislative changes needed to support their implementation. It will be supported by a partial Regulatory Impact Assessment. The results of the consultation exercise will be published.
Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions the Countryside Agency has had with (a) the relevant authorities in (i) Wales and (ii) Scotland, (b) local authorities, (c) non-governmental organisations and (d) non-statutory bodies on its coastal access proposals. 
Barry Gardiner: The Countryside Agency, along with its Natural England partners English Nature and the Rural Development Service, is represented on DEFRAs Coastal Land Advisory Group. Meetings of the Group have provided a forum for coastal access issues to be discussed with the National Trust, Local Government Association, Ministry of Defence, Environment Agency, English Heritage, Welsh Assembly Government and the Forestry Commission.
The National Countryside Access Forum, chaired by the Countryside Agency, considered coastal access issues at its meeting on 17 May 2006. The Forums membership includes the British Horse Society, British Mountaineering Council, Central Council for Physical Recreation, Country Land and Business Association, Cyclists Touring Club, Local Government Association, Moorland Association, National Farmers Union, National Trust, Ramblers Association and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. Representatives from local access forums, the Countryside Council for Wales and Scottish Natural Heritage also attended the meeting on 17 May 2006.
In addition, the Natural England partnership held a series of stakeholder events in each of four study areas in which they have been doing detailed work on options to improve access to the English coast. At these events they sought the views and expertise of a wide range of local organisations, including the local authorities for each of the areas concerned.
Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions the Countryside Agency has had with those administering Crown interests on its coastal access proposals; and when they took place. 
Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what (a) research has been commissioned and (b) surveys have been carried out by the Countryside Agency on coastal access in the last five years. 
Barry Gardiner: The Countryside Agency, along with its Natural England partners English Nature and the Rural Development Service, has carried out a detailed data-gathering exercise to support a comprehensive picture of the English coast and existing access provision. This work includes in-depth investigation, testing and costing of a number of possible ways to improve access, and ways to maximise landscape, historic environment and wildlife benefits.
In 2005 the Countryside Agency carried out short studies of six different parts of the English coast to gain an understanding of different coastal environments. In January 2006 the Natural England Partnership selected four study areas in which they are exploring coastal access issues in greater depth. These areas, selected to reflect the diversity of the English coast, are the Suffolk Coast, Southern Cumbrian Coast and Morecambe Bay, County Durham and Hartlepool Coast, North Devon, Exmoor and the West Somerset Coast.
The Countryside Agency has also commissioned a study to examine how coastal access works in other European countries and what might be learnt from their experience. Further survey work is being done to assess current public knowledge about the demand for and use of coastal access, along with research into the costs of possible options to improve coastal access.
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans he has to discuss the recommendations of the Affordable Rural Housing Commission Report with his colleagues
in (a) the Department for Communities and Local Government and (b) other Government Departments; and whether he has set a timetable for the development of a Government (i) response to the report and (ii) plan to implement the agreed recommendations. 
Barry Gardiner: The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Minister for Housing and Planning, my hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper) and I all took part in discussions of the Affordable Rural Housing Commission report on the day of its launch. Affordable rural housing will continue to be one of the subjects covered in the regular dialogue between the two Departments and across Government.
The Government are currently considering the report and will use a range of channels and mechanisms to respond in a constructive way to the agenda set by the Commission, including in the forthcoming Spending Review.
Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many applications for the Entry Level Stewardship scheme have been made; and how much had been paid to applicants at the latest date for which figures are available. 
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the cost was of compiling, printing and posting the leaflet Celebrating the Rural Development Service; and whether there are plans to issue further Rural Development Service leaflets prior to the services replacement in October. 
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