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Lord Lucas: The UK Biodiversity Steering Group was set up to advise the Government on the further development of the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. The Government welcomed the Group's report at its launch in December 1995. It will publish its response tomorrow under a foreword from the Prime Minister. The response will be positive and will explain how the Government, in partnership with other sectors will implement the species and habitat action plans and carry forward the other recommendations in the report. In particular it will set out a number of new initiatives it is taking to ensure
The Department of the Environment's Development Plan Monitoring Survey for September 1995 indicated that 58 per cent. of non-metropolitan districts 78 per cent. of metropolitan districts and 88 per cent. of London boroughs expect to have a single district-wide local plan or unitary development plan in place by the end of 1996. The survey also indicated that 100 per cent. of all districts and London boroughs expect to have such plans in place by the end of 1999. The length of time it is taking some local authorities to adopt their local plans is a matter of concern. Her Majesty's Government have already proposed changes to amend both the code of practice on development plans and the development plan regulations. We have not ruled out further changes, including measures that will require legislation, if they are wanted by users of the development plan system. Meetings will shortly be held with interested organisations to discuss their ideas for possible changes to the system.
It is not possible to predict what the average age of development plans would be at any future date. Development planning is a continuous process. Plans are kept under constant review and once they have been adopted are updated by the local planning authority, by alteration or replacement, at appropriate intervals.
Lord Lucas: Responsibility for the provision of information on performance on the processing of planning appeals has been delegated to the Chief Executive of the Planning Inspectorate Agency, who has been asked to arrange for a reply to be given.
Publication of quarterly performance figures was stopped when the Inspectorate became an Executive Agency in April 1992. The decision was made partly because these figures had never excited much interest (yours is in fact the first inquiry about them since then) but mainly because since its launch the agency has been set a range of key targets by Ministers. These are announced in the Official Report and published in our corporate documents. The targets set covered the handling time and unit cost of written planning appeals, the total volume of appeals decided as well as others designed to improve the efficiency and quality of our work. In addition, in its annual Business plan, the inspectorate publishes details of the internal targets that cover its performance in handling a range of appeal work by various procedures. The outcome of each year's work including a summary of how well we did against all our targets is a significant component of the inspectorate's annual report and accounts. It was felt that this full explanation of the inspectorate's performance would meet the needs of the majority of those who use our services more effectively than the previous arrangements.
The information on which the old quarterly returns was based is still collected and I attach copies of the quarterly performance returns covering the period to the end of December 1995. This picks up your specific question but you may also be interested to see copies of our latest business plan and annual report and accounts which both provide much more information about the inspectorate's business.
|Quarter ending December 1995||Number this quarter||Change over previous quarter||Change over same quarter last year|
|a. Number of appeals in hand at start of quarter||6,950||--||--|
|b. Number of appeals received during quarter||3,573||-62||-9|
|c. Number of appeals withdrawn during quarter||414 (11.6 per cent.)||-6||-31|
|d. Number of appeals decided during quarter||3,066||+342||+263|
|e. Number of appeals in band at end of quarter||7,043||--||--|
|Number of appeals decided||Number of appeals allowed||80 per cent. handling times (weeks)|
|Type of appeal||This quarter||Previous quarter||This quarter||Previous quarter||This quarter||Previous quarter|
|Inspector Written Representations||2,696||2,153||857||673||24||24|
|Secretary of State Written Representations||11||16||5||4||40||40|
|Secretary of State Inquiry||16||23||2||5||53||53|
|Quarter ending September 1995||Number this quarter||Change over previous quarter||Change over same quarter last year|
|a. Number of appeals in hand at start of quarter||6,459||--||--|
|b. Number of appeals received during quarter||3,635||-101||-9|
|c. Number of appeals withdrawn during quarter||420 (11.5 per cent.)||+8||+12|
|d. Number of appeals decided during quarter||2,724||+405||-143|
|e. Number of appeals in hand at end of quarter||6,950||--||--|
|Number of appeals decided||Number of appeals allowed||80 per cent. Handling Times (Weeks)|
|Type of Appeal||This quarter||Previous quarter||This quarter||Previous quarter||This quarter||Previous quarter|
|Inspector Written Representations||2,167||1,714||678||542||24||22|
|Secretary of State Written Representations||20||10||6||3||40||42|
|Secretary of State Inquiry||27||25||7||5||53||60|
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