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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): The Government issued on 12 January 1999 the Planning Performance Checklist for the 12 months ending September 1998. This ranks local planning authorities in England according to the
Lord Whitty: As I announced in a Written Answer on 10 December (WA 110-113), the next statutory procedure for this scheme is the publication of draft orders. This is expected to take place during 2001-02.
Lord Whitty: We are currently consulting regional planning bodies on the programme of 26 studies proposed in A New Deal for Trunk Roads in England. Subject to their views, I would expect work on the A.66 study to begin in the spring and report early in 2000.
Lord Whitty: There is no scientific evidence that use of computers causes disease or permanent damage to eyes. However, long spells of work on computers can lead to tired eyes and discomfort. The Health and Safety Executive has issued guidance, including a free booklet Working with VDUs, on how to prevent discomfort; for example, by good lighting, avoiding reflections and glare on the screen and by having an eye test to correct any pre-existing eyesight problems. Working with VDUs was revised in 1998 and a copy is available in the Library.
Lord Sewel: Under the Forestry Commission's Woodland Grant Scheme, we encourage landowners to coppice native woodland where this is appropriate. The commission also helps to promote new markets for coppice products through local initiatives, such as the Argyll Green Woodworkers. While some of the largest traditional markets for coppice products--for example bark for tanning--have now disappeared, there has been a resurgence of other coppice crafts, such as green wood working and charcoal production.
Lord Sewel: The Government set out their proposals for the role of the Secretary of State for Scotland after devolution in the White Paper Scotland's Parliament (cm 3658). It is intended that the Secretary of State will focus on promoting communication between the Scottish Parliament and Ministers and the UK Parliament and Government on matters of mutual interest; and on representing Scottish interests in reserved areas.
What consultations with neighbouring amenity societies were conducted before plans for concerts in Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens and other commercial activities in the Royal Parks were developed; and [HL629]
Whether the Royal Parks Agency has conducted environmental impact assessments of the proposed events in Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens in relation to (a) the grass, shrubs, trees and wildlife; (b) noise levels; (c) the effect around the park of the arrival and departure of, in each case, some tens of thousands of people; and (d) the timescale of subsequent clear-up, both in the park and in the areas around it, for which participants will be arriving before 4 p.m. and departing after 10 p.m.[HL630]
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Responsibility for the subject of these questions has been delegated to the Royal Parks Agency under its Chief Executive, Mr. David Welch. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given.
In the absence of the Chief Executive, I have been asked by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport to reply to your Parliamentary Questions about events proposed for 1999 in Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens.
The Agency expects to receive income in the region of £1 million from all events not only those in Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. But this figure assumes all proposals come to fruition and also includes some events, which are not managed by our Marketing Partner.
The Agency does not consult neighbouring amenity societies about proposed events in the Parks but it has informed the Friends of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens about the proposed concerns and its marketing proposals.
The Agency is not required to carry out environmental impact assessments on proposed events. These assessments are only required before undertaking industrial or other permanent construction developments. However, when considering proposals for events, the Agency takes into account their impact on the Park, access and dispersal arrangements, noise levels and litter clearance.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The agency has entered into these arrangements in response to Ministers' request that they promote more events than hitherto in order to help attract a wider range of visitors to the parks and to generate additional income. This income is to be retained by the agency and used to help meet the costs of maintenance of the parks' infrastructure. The Government are content that these arrangements are consistent with their own commitment to the recommendations of the Royal Parks Review Group's report which were originally accepted, in principle, by the previous government.
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