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Monday 13 October 2014


Communities and Local Government

Clocaenog Wind Farm (Vale of Clwyd)

The Petition of residents of the Vale of Clwyd,

Declares that Clocaenog wind farm is currently being developed; further that the Petitioners believe that all cables connecting the wind farm to the electricity sub-station should be underground so as to minimise the visual impact on this beautiful area, to minimise the health risks to residents, to limit the devaluation in property prices and to respect the democratic will of the people of Henllan, Cefn Meiriadog and surrounding areas who unanimously voted to endorse the placing of these cables underground; further that Tir Mostyn, the first wind farm near Clocaenog Forest, placed its cables underground; and further that the offshore wind farms off the coast of Rhyl also placed its cables from the seashore to St Asaph underground.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to encourage local authorities to ensure that planning inspectorates recognise and carefully consider local residents’ views when making planning permission decisions and further that the House urges the Government to encourage Denbighshire County Council to show the same consideration to residents’ views in relation to the development of the Clocaenog wind farm as it has in the development of other wind farms.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Chris Ruane , Official Report, 14 July 2014; Vol. 584, c. 650.]


Observations from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, received 8 October 2014:

There is a proposed electricity connection project to connect four onshore wind farms in North Wales, including Clocaenog. The project is being progressed within the nationally significant infrastructure planning regime, where it is classified as being at “pre-application” stage. The applicant (Scottish Power) aims to submit an application for a Development Consent Order to the Planning Inspectorate later in 2014.

The nationally significant infrastructure planning regime is designed to enable communities to engage early on and, in particular, to do so during the first three stages of the process: “pre- application”, “pre-examination” and “examination”. After the examination stage, the inspectors write a recommendation for Ministers, and after the ministerial decision there is an opportunity to make an application for Judicial Review.

Dealing first with the “pre-application stage”, this is when scheme proposers develop their application and during this period they are required to engage in significant consultation with local interests. The developer is required to submit a Statement of Community Consultation outlining their approach to consultation, and to work closely with the relevant local authority or authorities on this. Further details on pre-application guidance is

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available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/ guidance-on-the-pre-application-process-for-major-infrastructure-projects .

At “application stage”, developers must demonstrate how they have taken notice of consultation responses, and summarise these in a consultation report to the Planning Inspectorate. An application will only be accepted for examination if the Planning Inspectorate is satisfied that the consultation requirement has been met, and the views of the local authority will be considered as part of that assessment.

The “pre-examination stage” begins once an application has been accepted for examination. The application is publicised to ensure that all relevant parties can be made aware, and people and organisations can then register to be involved in the process. Having registered (as an “Interested Party”), individuals and groups will then receive regular updates on progress with the application and have the right to request an open floor hearing as part of the examination.

During the “examination stage”, the “Examining Authority” for the application (comprising one or a small number of Planning Inspectorate inspectors) invites the local authority (or authorities) to provide a Local Impact Report on the likely effects of the development on the local area. Local residents who have registered as “Interested Parties” are notified and can make submissions to the Examining Authority.

All evidence available to the Examining Authority is available to “Interested Parties” and the wider public through the Planning Inspectorate website. The Planning Inspectorate publishes all documents submitted to them in connection with applications with the exception of draft or working documents which are incomplete or potentially misleading.

After the examination stage, the Examining Authority makes a recommendation to the relevant Secretary of State. The decision on any application for the proposed North Wales wind farm connection would be a matter for my Right Honourable Friend, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.

Once a decision has been issued by the Secretary of State, there is a six-week period during which the decision may be challenged in the High Court. This process of legal challenge is known as Judicial Review.

In conclusion, the Planning Inspectorate administers the nationally significant infrastructure planning regime with openness, transparency and fairness, and ensures the affected local individuals, businesses, organisations and other interests have opportunities to understand and react to proposals to develop infrastructure projects.


Child Protection Law

The Petition of Monte Arora, a chartered accountant living in London,

Declares that she reported her partner to the police for his drinking in 2006. As a consequence of this she was referred to the local authority children’s services. Over a period of seven years there have been numerous hearings in the family division and her children have been removed from her and put up for adoption. She

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was unable to get legal aid for the appeal and had to pay around £220,000 to Hughmans Solicitors. Additionally she has had to pay the bridging costs of finance and various medical costs adding up to an additional £200,000. However, the system has refused to return her children to her. It is important to note about this case that according to the court judgments at no stage have the children suffered “significant harm” and that they have been put up for adoption on the basis that they are at the risk of “likely emotional abuse” as a consequence of the mother’s relationship with their father. Their father died in 2013, but the children are still being kept away from their mother. The local authority’s view is that she was dependent upon alcohol. She accepts that she consumed perhaps one or two glasses of wine up to three times a week. She has medical reports from 2013 by Dr Mike McPhillips who stated that he was unaware of any

“current psychiatric reason why she should, not be judged fit to parent her children”;

Sheron Green who stated

“I have no reason to believe that Ms. Arora has misused either Antabuse or alcohol during her appointments with me or outside of the therapy”

and Dr Neil Boast who stated

“I agree with Dr McPhillips that Mr Ball’s (unfortunate early) death improves the prognosis”.

However, the court still refused to accept that she should be reunited with her children. The court has relied upon the opinion of the local authority and its agents which is contrary to Lashin v Russia (Application no. 33117/02) that requires a truly independent assessment for any material decision. The Petitioner believes that the government pressure to increase adoption numbers has destroyed her family. The Petitioner now regrets having asked the system for help as it has destroyed her and her children’s lives.

The Petitioner therefore requests that the House of Commons Justice Select Committee reviews child protection law to ensure that parents get a fair hearing with independent evidence; the House of Commons instructs the Government to stop pressing for ever increasing adoption numbers; and an investigation is started by the Education Select Committee into how public policy should change to fulfil the needs of the large numbers of children wrongly removed from their families.

And the Petitioner remains, etc.—[Presented by John Hemming , Official Report, 14 July 2014; Vol. 584, c. 5P.]


Observation from the Secretary of State for Education, received 10 October 2014:

Decisions as to whether children are to be placed into care are taken by the courts. Our system of family justice is based firmly on the principle that children should not be taken into care without a court independently assessing all of the evidence first. We feel that this is the right approach.

Under the Children Act 1989, local authorities cannot and should not remove children from their parents’ care (unless this is with the parents’ consent) without first referring the matter to a court. In every case where a child is taken into care on a care order, the courts must consider all the evidence and can only proceed if there is reasonable cause to believe that the child is suffering from, or is likely to suffer, significant harm.

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Parents have legal representatives who are appointed to support them and ensure their views are heard, and to ensure that evidence put forward can be challenged. In addition, applications made to the court are subject to separate scrutiny by the child’s guardian who must submit their own analysis of the evidence, and ensure that the child’s interests and views are properly represented. Where, despite these checks and balances in the system, there are concerns about any individual case and its conclusion, cases can be subject to appeal.

Where the court makes an order placing a child in the care of a local authority, the authority should continue to work with the family with a view to the child returning home. At some point, it may become apparent that the child cannot return home. It is at this stage that the local authority must make alternative plans to provide the child with a permanent family home. One option that should be considered is whether the child can be placed with a member of the child’s wider family, such as a grandparent, and this option should be explored before considering placement with a foster carer.

I want to make it clear that there are no targets on the numbers of children in care or who should be adopted. In fact the law is clear that children should live with their parents wherever possible and that families should be given extra support to help keep them together. In most cases, support from the local authority enables concerns to be addressed and children to remain with their families.

There is nothing more important than promoting the welfare of children and protecting them from harm.

The coalition Government commissioned Professor Munro in May 2010 to undertake a review of the child protection system. This review considered the underpinning legislation and guidance and made a number of recommendations which have already been implemented. The Government are continuing to work with sector partners to reinforce existing legislation.

Home-to-school Transport to the Colne Community School (Essex)

The Petition of residents of Harwich and North Essex,

Declares that Essex County Council’s new home-to-school transport policy has removed school transport funding for residents of Wivenhoe with children attending the Colne Community School in Brightlingsea; further that the Petitioners believe that the policy does not recognise the long-term close community link between Wivenhoe and the Colne Community School; further that the cost of running an underutilised service to the allocated catchment school would better be spent on transport to the Colne Community School; and further that the journey time to the Colne Community School is likely to be the same as, or shorter than, to the allocated catchment school.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to encourage the Essex County Council to continue to provide residents of Wivenhoe with equitably funded home-to-school transport to the Colne Community School in Brightlingsea.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Mr Bernard Jenkin , Official Report, 22 July 2014; Vol. 584, c. 1355.]


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Observations from the Secretary of State for Education, received 3 October 2014:

Local authorities (LAs) must provide free home-to-school transport for pupils of compulsory school age who are attending their nearest suitable school, provided that the school is beyond the statutory walking distance.

LAs must also make arrangements for those children who are unable to walk to school because of their special educational needs (SEN), disability or mobility problems. These arrangements also apply to children who cannot reasonably be expected to walk because the nature of the route is unsuitable to walk in reasonable safety.

Entitlement to free school travel is extended for pupils from low-income families, i.e. those that a) are entitled to free school meals, or b) their parents are in receipt of maximum Working Tax Credit. The Education and Inspections Act 2006 seeks to improve home-to-school travel and transport arrangements and therefore secure fair access to schools, especially for children from low-income groups, where a lack of affordable transport can act as a barrier to choice.

Outside the statutory duties, LAs have a discretionary power to provide free or assisted transport if they believe it is necessary and local funding is available. Essex County Council (ECC) has previously gone beyond the statutory requirements and exercised their discretion to link transport entitlement to school catchment areas, including from Wivenhoe to Colne Community School, though there is no requirement in law to do this.

ECC carried out a public consultation on home-to-school transport which ran from 16 September 2013 to 25 October 2013. Following the consultation, a decision was made to cut the discretionary transport currently in place for children of Wivenhoe to Colne Community School in Brightlingsea. The school has historically been deemed a catchment school for pupils living in Wivenhoe. However, it is not the nearest school; this is Colchester Academy. Good practice would suggest that the introduction of any changes should be phased in so that children who start school under one set of transport arrangements continue to benefit from them. ECC are following this practice and introducing their revised policy for all new starters from September 2015. However, they will continue to provide discretionary transport from Wivenhoe to the Colne Community School for those pupils who currently receive it.

Funding and decisions on discretionary home-to-school transport are a matter for LAs and not something in which Ministers can usually intervene. We have no grounds to believe that the Minister can intervene in this case.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Human Rights in Jammu and Kashmir

The Petition of residents of the UK,

Declares that the Petitioners believe that Kashmiris suffer daily human rights abuses; further that the Petitioners believe that more needs to be done for Jammu and Kashmir to progress the right of self-determination for all Kashmiris; and further that a local Petition in Chesham on this matter has received over 228 signatures.

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The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons hold a debate on the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Mrs Cheryl Gillan , Official Report, 10 September 2014; Vol. 585, c. 13P .]


Observations from the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, received 8 October 2014:

First, I would like to extend, on behalf of the British Government, my deepest sympathies to all those who have been affected by the extensive flooding in India Administered Kashmir (IAK), Pakistan Administered Kashmir (PAK) and elsewhere in the region. The British Government continue to monitor the humanitarian situation in the aftermath of the floods. We have not, to date, received a request from either Government for assistance, but are in close contact with relevant partners in both countries, and stand ready to help.

I understand the strength of feeling about the situation in Kashmir among those who have signed the petition. The parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, the Hon. Member for Bournemouth East (Mr Ellwood), in a Westminster Hall debate on Kashmir on 11 September, reiterated the long-standing position of the UK, which is:

“that it is for India and Pakistan to find a lasting resolution to the situation in Kashmir, one which takes into account… the wishes of the Kashmiri people. It is not for the UK to prescribe a solution or to mediate in finding one.”

We continue to follow developments in the region and officials from our High Commissions in both New Delhi and Islamabad discuss the situation in Kashmir with both Governments and travel to the region periodically to witness the situation on the ground, in line with our travel advice. We recognise that there are human rights concerns in both IAK and PAK. Any allegations of human rights abuses should be investigated thoroughly, promptly and transparently.

During the Westminster Hall debate the FCO parliamentary Under-Secretary of State said that the British Government

“recognise the importance of a strong relationship between India and Pakistan not only for its own sake, but for regional stability. We encourage both sides to maintain dialogue, the pace and scope of that dialogue is for the two countries to determine.”

The full record of the Westminster Hall debate on Kashmir on 11 September can be found at:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm140911/halltext/140911h0001.htm# 14091137000001

Palestinian Water Rights

The Petition of a resident of the UK,

Declares that the Petitioner believes that the Government of Israel is not respecting the human rights of the Palestinian people by failing to ensure that they have an adequate water supply.

The Petitioner therefore requests that the House of Commons urges the Government to encourage the Government of Israel to respect the human rights of the Palestinian people to adequate water supply.

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And the Petitioner remains, etc.—[Presented by Tim Farron , Official Report,17 June 2014; Vol. 582, c. 1085.]


Observations from the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, received 7 October 2014:

I understand and sympathise with those who have signed this petition. I share their concerns regarding the situation of an adequate water supply for the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs).

The UK raises issues of water in the OPTs with the Israeli authorities, we last raised this issue with Israeli Ministry of Defence officials from the Co-ordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) Unit on 22 April. We continue to stress the urgent need for Israel to take immediate and practical measures to improve the current unacceptable situation and ensure fair distribution of water in the West Bank and Gaza. The UK does not directly fund water projects in the OPTs since a large number of organisations already work on water and sanitation issues. However, UK support to the EU contributes to EU-funded projects in the water, sanitation and basic infrastructure sector.

There is a huge disparity in the way that resources are allocated, as Foreign and Commonwealth Office Ministers have seen during their visits to the region. For example, while an average Israeli settler uses 242 litres of water a day, an average Palestinian can only use 75 litres a day.

The fair and effective distribution of shared water resources across the Middle East is of great concern to us. These resources are limited and therefore require the effective co-operation from all parties to manage them in such a manner that ensures there will be enough for all.

Although this issue transcends the Arab-Israeli conflict, it is essential that Israel and the Palestinians discuss this issue and ensure that there is a just solution on shared water resources as part of any final status agreement.


Dual Carriageway for the A303

The Petition of residents of the UK,

Declares that the Petitioners believe that urgent action is needed to make the A303 road west of Stonehenge a dual carriageway following dramatically increased traffic levels caused by the closure of the A344; further that the Petitioners believe a bypass road should be created to relieve the village of Winterbourne Stoke and other blighted communities; further that increased traffic has been diverted onto local roads to the detriment of those resident in the surrounding villages; and further that the Petitioners believe that the Government’s feasibility study into improving the A303 must take the impact of disruption on their lives caused by increased traffic into consideration.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to improve the A303 west of Stonehenge by constructing a dual carriageway at the earliest possible opportunity.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by John Glen , Official Report, 9 July 2014; Vol. 584, c. 404.]


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Observations from the Secretary of State for Transport, received 30 September 2014:

This Government have been clear about the importance of the A303 corridor and its role in facilitating economic growth and providing access to the south-west.

As part of the 2013 spending review, the Government committed to identify and fund solutions, through feasibility studies, to a number of long-standing and notorious hot spots on our national road network, including A303/A30/A358 corridor.

In April this year, the Department published details of the scope, timing and management arrangement of the A303/A30/A358 feasibility study which is available from the Department for Transport website.

The aim of the study is to identify the opportunities and understand the case for future investment solutions on the A303/A30/A358 corridor that are deliverable, affordable and offer value for money. The study is currently considering a range of solutions to the problems identified along the route, including to the congestion problems identified on the Amesbury to Berwick Down section which passes through the Stonehenge world heritage site and the village of Winterbourne Stoke.

The Government have committed to report back at autumn statement 2014 with solutions to the problems on this route, and through this feasibility study we will identify potential future investment proposals as part of our process for longer-term investment planning.

The outcomes of this feasibility study will inform the Department’s Roads Investment Strategy that is currently being developed and which we have committed to publish by the end of this year.

Proposed Airspace Changes at Birmingham Airport

The Humble Petition of Communities Affected by the Proposed Airspace Changes at Birmingham Airport Limited.


That we wish to bring to the attention of the Secretary of State that local communities in the vicinity of Birmingham Airport Runway 15 have been significantly affected by the noise and disturbance of aircraft flying departure routes established by Birmingham Airport Ltd (BAL) as part of their air space change proposal. BAL is conducting trial flights in relation to their preferred route options as submitted to the CAA (Options 5 & 6 of BAL’s proposal). During the public consultation process the community raised significant concerns about the loss of the existing Noise Preferential Route, and accurately predicted a significant increase in noise disturbance. Members of the community made detailed submissions to BAL highlighting how a departure that included a turn at altitude could closely replicate the existing Noise Preferential Route and accommodate the extended runway. This is an option that gained a great deal of community support but was rejected by BAL without any meaningful qualification. Additionally the CAA has confirmed that two of the departure routes from Runway 15 are not producing the intended flight paths. We should also like to bring to the Secretary of State’s attention that BAL has no mechanism for gathering community feedback on the trial routes being flown. Given that a technically valid alternative exists, which would substantially accommodate the noise preferential routing, but was not included in BAL’s submission to the CAA, we have no other recourse but to submit this petition to The Honourable House of Commons.

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Wherefore your Petitioners pray that your Honourable House urgently review the proposed flight path changes at Birmingham Airport in view of the sharp increase in noise nuisance to the communities living at the southerly end of the extended runway and the failure of the trial to ensure aircrafts follow the new flight path options accurately and to explore an alternative option which was previously submitted to BAL by the community itself and which would substantially minimise noise nuisance.

And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray, &c.—[Presented by Mrs Caroline Spelman , Official Report, 16 July 2014; Vol. 584, c. 974.]


Observations from the Secretary of State for Transport, received 29 September 2014:

The Secretary of State for Transport, having policy responsibility for UK aviation matters, notes the concerns of the local communities which have been affected by the proposed airspace change at Birmingham Airport.

I understand that Birmingham Airport made an application to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) last December for an airspace change. It is the CAA’s responsibility, as the UK’s independent airspace regulator, to make the decision on whether to approve the proposal and this is a long-standing process which means that decisions can be made on the basis of their merits.

I wish to assure the local communities around Birmingham Airport that environmental factors are also taken into consideration by the CAA, and my Department’s Air Navigation Guidance to the CAA makes it clear that the mitigation of noise up to 4,000 feet is, after air safety, the key priority which must be met in an airspace change.

In the case of the Birmingham Airport application, when the CAA received it they had some concerns around the predicted environmental impacts of the two options for southbound departure routes (options five and six). Birmingham preferred option five based on their assessed impact, while the CAA considered that option six—which goes closer to Hampton—might have slightly less impact. The CAA then decided to pause the airspace change process while the airport carried out trials of both routes for six months.

I understand that these trials have not been as successful as they might have been. While option five is considered to be working as planned, option six is proving difficult with aircraft being more dispersed than is desirable. The CAA appreciates the importance of rectifying this and has stepped in to offer its technical help to resolve the design of option six. The CAA hopes that this should help to resolve the current issues and enable the trials to continue.

Proposed airspace changes such as at Birmingham are complicated matters and the Government appreciate that residents have valid concerns. I would therefore

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encourage them to continue to make their views known to the airport, in order for it to reflect them in its final application to the CAA.

Traffic Calming Measures on Broadway in Morecambe

The Petition of members of the community in Morecambe,

Declares that the Petitioners believe that there should be traffic calming measures introduced at the junction between Broadway and Marine Road East in Morecambe as the junction is dangerous and further that the Petitioners believe that this should be in the form of a roundabout.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to encourage Lancashire County Council to take steps to support the residents in Morecambe and to ensure traffic calming measures are introduced at the junction between Broadway and Marine Road East.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by David Morris , Official Report, 2 September 2014; Vol. 585, c. 250.]


Observations from the Secretary of State for Transport, received 9 October 2014:

I recognise the concerns that having a dangerous junction such as this can cause and how the introduction of traffic calming measures might help.

Responsibility for the introduction of traffic calming measures is, however, the responsibility of individual traffic authorities. They are free to make their own decisions about the design of the streets under their care, provided they take account of the relevant legislation. This includes the provision of traffic management measures such as traffic calming.

The DFT has also published guidance on the design of traffic calming measures in Local Transport Note (LTN) 1/07 “Traffic Calming” which is available on the DFT website at:


The decision on whether to introduce a roundabout is also for local authorities to make. The Department for Transport (DFT) provides guidance on the provision of roundabouts in section 8, chapter 5 of the Traffic Signs Manual. This can be viewed at:


Detailed guidance on the design of roundabouts is provided in the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges (DMRB) in TD 16/07 “Geometric Design of Roundabouts” which is available at:


In line with the coalition Government’s commitment to localism, Ministers and officials have no remit to intervene in the day-to-day affairs of local authorities except where specific provision has been made in legislation.