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6 Nov 2006 : Column 896W—continued


6 Nov 2006 : Column 897W

For 2002 to 2004 Home Group appears twice owing to the unusual group structure in which the stock was owned by Home Group but managed by Home Housing Association.

In 2004 Wakefield and District Housing Limited was one of the largest 10 RSLs but had only recently transferred prior to the end of the financial year at31 March 2005.

Religious Organisations (Grants)

Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much her Department has provided in (a) grant and (b) non-repayable grant to (i) the Church of England, (ii) Islamic organisations and (iii) other religions in the past five years; who the recipients were of each grant; and what the amount of the grant was in each case. [97385]

Meg Munn [holding answer 30 October 2006]: There are a number of DCLG programmes where funding in the form of grants and non-repayable grants may ultimately reach the Church of England, Islamic organisations and other religions, but not exclusively so. Consequently the information requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Repossessions

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many house repossessions have occurred over the last 12 months. [99339]

Yvette Cooper: Data on repossessions of dwellings are collected by the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) and published at UK level as Table AP4: Possessions of mortgage properties, on the CML's website at:

According to these figures, 10,310 properties in the UK were repossessed in 2005, including those voluntarily surrendered by borrowers. This is less than 0.1 per cent. of the number of mortgaged properties at the end of the period. Figures below UK level are not published.

Safer and Stronger Communities Fund

Joan Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what funding has been made available for (a) England, (b) the West Midlands and (c) Stoke-on-Trent via the Safer and Stronger Communities Fund. [98581]

Mr. Woolas: A total of £233.52 million has been made available through the Safer and Stronger Communities Fund for 2006-07.

The West Midlands region has a combined funding of £21.87 million for 2006-07.

The funding allocation for Stoke on Trent for 2006-07 is £2.07 million.


6 Nov 2006 : Column 898W

Joan Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps she is taking to ensure that the areas which are most in need will benefit from the Safer and Stronger Communities Fund; and if she will make a statement. [98582]

Mr. Woolas: The Safer and Stronger Communities Fund was introduced for all local authorities in England on 1 April 2005. The Fund was a new way of administering a number of Department for Communities and Local Government and Home Office funding streams that have a common theme; tackling crime, antisocial behaviour and, the harm caused by illegal drugs, improving the poor condition of public spaces, and improving the quality of life for people living in disadvantaged neighbourhoods where the issues are more prevalent.

The Safer and Stronger Communities Fund is designed to allow local partners more flexibility in deciding how programmes are delivered to local communities, and to reduce the bureaucracy associated with multiple funding streams. The Fund has been incorporated into the safer and stronger communities block of local area agreements.

School Playing Fields

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what changes have been made to (a) planning guidance, (b) circulars and (c) regulations relating to development of (i) current and (ii) former school playing fields since May 1997. [94568]

Yvette Cooper: In December 1998, the Government published Environment Circular 09/98, which announced the introduction of a Direction under the Town and Country Planning (General Development Procedure) Order 1995. This Direction requires local planning authorities to notify the Secretary of State in cases where they propose to grant planning permission for development on a playing field where Sport England has made an objection, and allows the Secretary of State to decide whether the application should be called in or left to the local authority to determine.

In July 2002, the Government published Planning Policy Guidance 17 (PPG17) “Planning for Open Space, Sport and Recreation”. In addition to general policies designed to protect existing open spaces, sports and recreational buildings and land, PPG17 includes specific policies to prevent the development of playing fields unless strict criteria are met.

Special Protection Areas

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what plans she has to issue (a) a planning circular and (b) guidance in relation to Special Protection Areas. [94611]

Yvette Cooper: In August 2005, the Government published Planning Policy Statement 9 (PPS9) “Biodiversity and Geological Conservation” together with a joint ODPM/Defra Circular “Biodiversity and Geological Conservation—Statutory obligations and their impact within the planning system” (ODPM
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06/2005). A guide to good practice to accompany PPS9 was published in March 2006. Circular 06/2005 contains extensive administrative guidance on the application of the law relating to planning and nature conservation. It includes specific guidance on the procedures to be followed when considering plans and projects in and around internationally designated sites such as Special Protection Areas.

In addition in August 2006 my Department published a consultation paper “Planning for the Protection of European Sites: Appropriate Assessment—Guidance for Regional Spatial Strategies and Local Development Documents”. The final version of this guidance will accompany Schedule 1 of the amending Habitats Regulations due to come into force in February 2007. The amending regulations insert the requirement to carry out Appropriate Assessment (AA) of land use plans to ensure the protection of the integrity of European sites such as Special Protection Areas as part of the planning process at a regional and local level.

The Government currently have no plans to issue further guidance or circulars on these matters.

Travellers

Julie Morgan: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many permanent and temporary planning permissions for gypsy sites have been awarded since the Planning Circular 01/06 came into effect; and how many were issued during the equivalent period before the Circular was issued. [97450]

Meg Munn: The following table shows the number and outcome of planning appeals determined by and on behalf of the Secretary of State since the publication of ODPM Planning Circular 01/06 and in the equivalent period prior to the publication of the Circular. The statistics shown as follows include enforcement appeals as well as planning appeals. All appeals have been counted separately even where appeals were linked and handled together. The Planning Inspectorate does not hold information on whether the permissions granted are permanent or temporary. The Department does not collect information on the numbers of permissions granted for gypsy and traveller sites by local planning authorities.

Permissions granted between 1 May 2005 and 1 February 2006 (pre publication of Circular 01/06) Permissions granted between 2 February 2006 and 25 October 2006 (post publication of Circular 01/06)

Number of appeals during period

270

44

Number allowed (permission granted)

40

26

Number dismissed (permission refused)

230

18



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Valuation Office Agency

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether double glazing is (a) a value significant and (b) dwellinghouse code property attribute in the Valuation Office Agency's Automated Valuation Model. [99554]

Mr. Woolas: No.

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what proportion of domestic properties in England is classified by the Valuation Office Agency with a dwellinghouse code of (a) Heating: Y and (b) Heating: N. [99557]

Mr. Woolas: The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) holds limited information about heating in domestic properties. For arriving at a banding for council tax purposes the presence or absence of heating would only be relevant in those comparatively rare cases where this would significantly affect the property's value. The Automated Valuation Model, developed for the (now postponed) 2007 revaluation, does not therefore treat the presence or absence of heating as a significant factor. The VOA's records provide for the recording of this information if it becomes available. At present fewer than 0.1 per cent. of properties are recorded as not having heating.

Waste Management

Peter Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what planning guidance her Department offers to local authorities on recycling facilities and their proximity to the origin of the materials recycled; and if she will make a statement. [97487]

Yvette Cooper: Planning policy on the management of waste is set out in Planning Policy Statement 10: “Planning for Sustainable Waste Management (PPS10)”, published in July 2005. Practical guidance on the delivery of that policy is contained in its associated “Companion Guide”, published in June 2006. PPS10 requires all planning authorities to prepare and deliver planning strategies that help deliver sustainable development though driving waste management up the waste hierarchy, with a preference for reduction, re-use, recycling and composting, using waste as source of energy and, where these are not practicable, only looking to disposal as the last option to be considered. PPS10 requires that where disposal of waste has to take place planning authorities should enable this in one of the nearest appropriate installations. It also advises that when selecting sites suitable for waste management facilities, authorities should assess them against the capacity of existing and potential transport infrastructure to support the sustainable movement of waste, and products arising from resource recovery, seeking where practicable and beneficial to use modes other than road transport.


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International Development

Air Pollution

Susan Kramer: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what steps the Government are taking to combat the damage to health caused by indoor air pollution in developing countries; [99098]

(2) what steps the Government have taken to combat the environmental causes of acute lower respiratory infection in children in the developing world. [99100]

Mr. Thomas: The International Energy Agency estimates that about 2.4 billion people worldwide depend on traditional biomass such as charcoal, wood and straw to meet their daily household cooking and heating needs. This is often burnt inefficiently and is a source of indoor smoke pollution. It causes ill health, especially for women and children who tend to receive most exposure. The World Health Organisation estimates that 1.5 million deaths a year in developing countries are attributable to indoor smoke, with millions more suffering from chronic respiratory illness. Solutions include more efficient cooking stoves, cleaner fuels and proper ventilation. Changes in behaviour through better awareness of the dangers can also make a significant difference.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), air pollution and possibly second-hand tobacco smoke are to blame for an estimated 42 per cent. of lower respiratory infections in developing countries. The UK has pledged to increase its share for the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), providing approximately £140 million over the next four years. The GEF supports sustainable energy and transportation initiatives that reduce pollution.

However, lower respiratory infections in developing countries are mainly associated with indoor air pollution related largely to household solid fuel use. The International Energy Agency estimates that about 2.4 billion people worldwide depend on traditional biomass such as charcoal, wood and straw to meet their daily household cooking and heating needs. The smoke produced causes ill health, especially for women and children who tend to receive most exposure. Around 1.5 million deaths a year are in developing countries attributable to indoor smoke, with millions more suffering from chronic respiratory illness. The solutions include improved more efficient cooking stoves, cleaner fuels and proper ventilation. Changes in use behaviour through better awareness of the dangers can also make a significant difference.

DFID is the second largest contributor to the World Bank's Energy Sector Management Assistance Programme (ESMAP). We have made core contributions to ESMAP of £0.5 million in each of the last four years. In 2002, we agreed with the Bank that household fuel and health be taken up as a major theme. As a result, the programme has worked in five developing countries, looking at health impacts,
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improved cooking stoves and cleaner fuels. An example is DFID funding in 2002 of approximately £0.5 million for an ESMAP programme in four provinces in China on new stove and ventilation technologies.

The UK also supports the work of Practical Action (previously the Intermediate Technology Development Group), the Partnership on Clean Indoor Air (PCIA) and the Global Village Energy Partnership (GVEP). This includes programmes that aim to improve energy access and reduce the huge environmental costs of solid fuels.

Afghanistan

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will assess the (a) effectiveness, (b) consistency and (c) social and economic impact of provincial reconstruction teams in Afghanistan. [98013]

Hilary Benn: There is no single model for the structure and activities of Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) in Afghanistan. This is largely due to the number of different nationalities involved in managing PRTs: there are currently 24 PRTs (25 as of 9 November when Turkey establishes itself in Wardak) involving 25 nations. Since the concept began in 2002, there has been limited strategic guidance from the Government of Afghanistan or the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) as to the role or mandate of PRTs and individual nations have interpreted approaches independently. However, the recent expansion of ISAF has brought a considerable improvement in coherence and consistency, and regular PRT workshops have proven useful ways to share best practice and learn lessons.

In July 2005 DFID commissioned the King’s Fund to conduct a review of the UK’s involvement in Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Afghanistan. This review involved field visits to the PRTs in Bamyan, Jalalabad, Kandahar, and Mazar-e-Sharif, as well as extensive interviews in Kabul and Bagram Airbase. The review concluded that the sheer number of PRTs operating in Afghanistan made it hard to form a single conclusion on their effectiveness or impact. The review highlighted the variation in national interpretation, of the PRT mandate, with significant differentials in PRTs’ approaches to development, funding allocations, and combinations of civilian and military personnel. The Kings Fund highlighted that PRTs naturally adopt a different emphasis from each other, shaped by the political environment and the PRT internal institutional context.

ISAF has recently prepared a PRT Handbook which is undergoing final revision and has worked hard to enhance consistency across PRTs in future. We have contacted ISAF to find whether a broader assessment has been made on the social and economic impact of PRTs nationally. No such data is currently available.

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what (a) development projects and (b) non-governmental organisations activities the Department has ceased to fund since 2002 in Afghanistan. [98016]


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Hilary Benn: The following table identifies projects funded by DFID in Afghanistan since 2002 that are now complete. Beside each project, there is list of project implementing partners, including non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Whether programmes or projects are directed through NGOs, the Government or multilateral, DFID funding contributions have come to an end when the programme/project reached completion stage as specified in the project contract.


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