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The consultation paper Legal Aid: Refocusing on Priority Cases is available on the Ministry of Justice website at Responses are invited by 8 October 2009.

Local Transport Act 2008: Passenger Focus


The Secretary of State for Transport (Lord Adonis): My right honourable friend the Minister of State for Transport (Mr Sadiq Khan) has made the following Ministerial Statement.

The Local Transport Act 2008 includes powers for the Secretary of State to confer additional functions on Passenger Focus (formally known as the Rail Passengers' Council, the statutory rail passenger watchdog) so that it can represent bus, coach and tram passengers. The Act also enables secondary legislation to be made requiring certain persons to display certain information relating to public transport.

The Department for Transport is today publishing a consultation on a draft order to extend Passenger Focus's remit and draft regulations requiring bus and coach operators to display information on their vehicles about whom passengers should contact if they want to make a complaint. Copies of the consultation materials will be made available on the department's website ( and are being placed in the Libraries of the House.

National Park Authorities


The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Davies of Oldham): My honourable friend the Minister for Marine and Natural Environment (Huw Irranca-Davies) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

In July last year Defra launched an open consultation to seek the views of a range of stakeholders on the principle of whether some members of national park and broads authorities should be directly elected.

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The majority of the national park authorities' membership comprises local authority and parish councillors selected by their respective councils, with the remainder being appointed by the Secretary of State in recognition of the national interest. The Broads Authority has a different membership structure under its own primary legislation to reflect the Broads' navigational interest.

During the passage of the Broads Authority private Bill the question arose of whether there should be parish members on the Broads Authority. As a result this issue was included in the consultation on direct elections.

A total of 490 responses were received to the consultation. The strongest support for the principle of direct elections came from respondents within the Broads Authority and New Forest National Parks for reasons of local democracy and local representation in relation to planning decisions, but there was very little support for larger authorities to accommodate directly elected members.

Most stakeholders considered that direct elections would not lead to any improved effectiveness or efficiency of national park authorities, including the authorities themselves. Many national park authorities, local authorities and parish councils expressed concern that direct elections in place of their members would have the effect of disenfranchising the local authorities and parish councils whom the park authorities work with leading to the effect of serious repercussions in relation to their influence with other bodies, particularly at regional and national level.

There appeared to be no consensus on which category of members to replace to accommodate directly elected members. All categories of members have provided a significant contribution to the effective working of the authorities. However, many individuals who live in the parks and MPs have raised the issue of democratic accountability and local representation for local communities in the parks.

I have been impressed with the range of community engagement that already occurs, and having carefully considered the responses I have decided not to make any changes to the current membership arrangements. I am proposing ways of improving the accountability of the national park authorities and to more consistently apply some of the examples of best practice across all parks.

The park authorities will be required to apply the "Duty to Involve" measures contained in the Local Government and Public Health Act 2007, which will assist local authorities and others in understanding what the park authorities are, their functions and how people can get involved.

Although there are a range of accountability measures already in place, including the holding of authority meetings in public, local area agreements, formal performance assessments and annual inspections by the Audit Commission, I have also asked the park authorities to examine other ways of engaging the public and local residents in the decision-making process, for example:

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making the reporting of progress and performance more open and transparent, including information on progress in delivering the objectives set out in the National Park management plans; considering whether existing forums provide sufficient opportunities for public involvement in priority setting and improving the engagement of parish councils;undertaking regular resident and visitor surveys to obtain feedback on the services provided by the authorities, openly publish analysis of these, and demonstrate how they are shaping the delivery of services provided by the authority.

Given the ability of parish members to provide local knowledge, I will also consider more closely the role they play in existing national park authorities, and ways of enhancing the parish member appointment processes to ensure they are made more consistent and include opportunities for wider public involvement.

I have asked for a report back to my department in 12 months on how the park authorities are building on their existing arrangements for engaging the public and local residents.

On the issue of appointing parish members to the Broads Authority, whilst there was some support for these appointments this should not be at the expense of a reduction in the existing categories of membership. Although I am not in favour of adding parish council members to the Broads Authority at this time, I am prepared to reconsider the matter if local government restructuring meant that there was a need in any case to revise the Broads Authority's membership.


Examples of existing and proposed accountability measures in addition to those mentioned above:

Existing mechanisms

Methods by which National Park Authorities are currently accountable for their activities and decisions are numerous and include:

NPA meetings being held in public, with the papers made available, including on websites;formal NPA performance assessments being undertaken which includes peer and stakeholder review and rigorous independent scrutiny; a commitment to public participation which goes beyond statutory public consultation on the preparation of the national park management plan and subsequent publication and monitoring of delivery;publication of NPA corporate plans and other strategies;undertaking resident and visitor surveys to test opinion and receive feedback on services and priorities; publication of newsletters to both residents and to visitors from beyond the national park boundary, and customer satisfaction surveys designed in order to improve performance and to ensure services meet customers' needs;hosting consultative forums that bring town and parish councils, amenity groups and other local associations together to discuss shared priorities, and run community and stakeholder forums to gather views.

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Some possible new measures under consideration

NPAs sharing good practice in the area of public involvement and early experience of implementing the "Duty to Involve" requirements. NPAs could consider if cost effective improvements can be made to the publishing of forthcoming meetings. NPAs could explore whether they can enhance the support given to capacity building of parish councils. This might entail, as an example, running a joint event for parish councils on the planning system to help build their capacity to engage with policy development and respond to planning applications, and offering annual planning liaison meetings with each parish council to improve understanding of the process.

Northern Ireland Prison Service: Annual Report and Accounts


Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My right honourable friend the Minister of State for Northern Ireland (Paul Goggins) has made the following Ministerial Statement.

I am pleased to announce that I am today publishing the Northern Ireland Prison Service's annual report and accounts 2008-09. They combine the agency's annual performance report and agency resource accounts in a single document that provides a comprehensive overview of the Prison Service's financial and non-financial performance for the year. A copy has been placed in the Library of the House. It is also available online from the agency's website at

Planning: Eco-towns


The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): My right honourable friend the Minister for Housing and Planning (Mr John Healey MP) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Yesterday, the Government published their low carbon transition plan. To respond to the challenge of climate change, we need to become a low carbon country, achieving an 80 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

We must also meet the challenge to build more homes, so that everyone has a decent, secure and affordable home.

To deliver both we need to change the way that we plan, design and build homes for the future. More than a quarter of Britain's carbon emissions come from our homes. We will need to reduce emissions from existing homes. The Government announced important measures to do so yesterday and we will set out more later this year. But one in three of Britain's homes in 2050 will be built between now and then. We need to make sure that our homes in future are cleaner, greener and cheaper to run from the outset.

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Today I am reconfirming the Government's policy that all new homes will be zero carbon from 2016 and announcing further details on the definition and standards we will legislate for.

New buildings are only part of the answer for a low carbon and sustainable future. A differently planned and more sustainable built environment can encourage more sustainable ways of living.

Today I am publishing the planning policy statement which sets out the highest ever standards for green living, announcing the first four pioneering locations for eco-towns in England and offering government support to work with a further six second-wave areas.

By radically rethinking how we design, plan and build we can create zero carbon developments which combine affordable housing with green infrastructure, greater energy efficiency and a higher quality of life.

To support the low carbon transition plan and its route map to carbon reduction, today I am also announcing that we will review and combine the climate change and renewable energy policy planning statements (PPS) consulting in detail on proposals before the end of the year.

Zero Carbon Homes

In July 2007, we announced that all homes would be zero carbon from 2016. In December 2008, we published a consultation on the definitions of zero carbon. I am announcing today details of the definition that will apply.

A zero carbon home is one whose net carbon dioxide emissions, taking account of emissions associated with all energy use in the home, is equal to zero or negative across the year. Our definition of energy use will cover both energy uses currently regulated by the building regulations and other energy used in the home.

Homes meeting the new requirements will be cheaper to run because of high energy efficiency requirements, and occupants will be less vulnerable to rising gas and electricity prices. These homes will have better controls, including smart meters, so that people can more easily manage and reduce energy use. Technology for people to generate their own low carbon heat and electricity, with payments for surpluses, will be designed and built into new zero carbon homes or developments as a matter of course.

Zero carbon homes will be designed and built to be highly energy efficient. Our consultation quoted two standards to illustrate our ambitions in this area. Respondents welcomed the proposition that energy efficiency should be the first priority, although many argued that the standards quoted were not suitable as a minimum regulatory standard to apply to every new home in England and that we do not have an appropriate established energy efficiency standard for the purpose of zero carbon homes. I accept this.

I am therefore setting up a specialist task group, reporting to me in the autumn to examine the energy efficiency metrics and standards which will realise our ambition of the highest practical energy efficiency level realisable in all dwelling types. Following the task group's report, I intend to announce decisions on a clear new standard by the end of this year.

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The net emissions of the home, taking account of its energy efficiency and on-site energy supply (including, where relevant, connections to heat networks) will meet a minimum carbon compliance standard-in effect a regulatory level of carbon reduction to be achieved on-site compared to today's regulations.

I have decided to set that level to be as ambitious as possible for on-site carbon mitigation, while being technically achievable. This will therefore be 70 per cent of regulated energy use, based on the assumptions laid out in our consultation document. We will consider updating this as necessary in light of technical changes, such as developments to the standard assessment procedure energy assessment tool, to maintain this overall level of ambition and provide continued certainty to industry.

I can also confirm that new support for small-scale renewable heat and electricity generation through the renewable heat incentive and clean energy cash back will be available for on-site renewables in zero carbon homes, making these homes more attractive to occupants and potentially reducing the net costs faced by developers.

Any carbon not mitigated on site will be dealt with through a range of good quality allowable solutions. The allowable solutions will cover carbon emitted from the home for 30 years after build. Responses to the consultation took different views about some of the solutions suggested. I have decided to indicate now those approaches that commanded broad support. We will consider with stakeholders the practical arrangements that would be required to permit them to be put in place and to ensure that standards are achieved in practice. I will announce decisions by the end of this year. Those that received broad support are:

further carbon reductions on site beyond the regulatory standard; energy efficient appliances meeting a high standard which are installed as fittings within the home; advanced forms of building control system which reduce the level of energy use in the home; exports of low carbon or renewable heat from the development to other developments; investments in low and zero carbon community heat infrastructure; other allowable solutions remain under consideration.

The wider policies supporting distributed energy will continue to develop over the coming years. Our consultation suggested setting a guideline maximum price we expect industry to bear in implementing allowable solutions. In the light of responses, I intend to do so following further work on costs. For the purposes of the impact assessment published today, I have included costs of allowable solutions up to the central option in our consultation of £100 per tonne of carbon dioxide, reflecting the cost of off-site renewable electricity.

Government will support industry as it responds to this challenge. Budget 2009 announced that the Government will report at the 2009 Pre-Budget Report on progress and set out the strategy to support a timely and effective housing supply response through the recovery, in order to maximise delivery of high-quality, energy-efficient homes, supporting our long-term housing supply and environmental objectives. As part of this,

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the Government will identify, working with industry and other partners, the best regulatory and policy framework to support the Government's long-term housing objectives. In making the announcement today, I am making clear the priority the Government attach to tackling climate change over other potential demands on land values. We will examine the cumulative impact and costs of our existing regulatory policies and proposals that potentially affect land value including current implementation plans in the round in the context of the PBR work, taking the zero carbon policy into account.

Industry will need to develop innovative design and building technologies and techniques, and to support these efforts government will work closely with the industry:

The Technology Strategy Board is working with partners to enable it to harness the market for environmentally sustainable buildings, since 2004 investing £46 million in this area. Under its low impact buildings innovation platform a further total of £50 million is now earmarked for allocation to research relevant to new build by 2011. This includes over £30 million of capability building work to be awarded over the next two years and up to £8.5 million in new build demonstration programmes;The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) has a carbon challenge programme which aims to accelerate the home building industry's response to climate change by building homes that reach level 6 of the Code for Sustainable Homes. Four new communities are planned which will together provide around 1,700 zero carbon, highly sustainable demonstration homes; I am today announcing with the HCA support for the first schemes under the £21 million low carbon community heating initiative fund, launched in Budget 2009. Schemes will be supported in Exeter, Nottingham, Milton Keynes, Southampton, Birmingham and Newcastle.


Eco-towns respond to the demand to build more homes and to live in a more sustainable way. By radically rethinking how we design, plan and build our homes, we can create zero carbon developments which combine affordable housing, environmental sensitivity, and outstanding quality. Eco-towns will pioneer genuinely sustainable living setting standards that will need to be followed more widely to deal with the challenge of climate change.

The new eco-town planning policy statement (PPS) that I am publishing today sets out the highest ever standards for green living, and linked to it I can announce the first four pioneer locations for England's Eco-towns. These are: Whitehill-Bordon, St Austell (Clay Country), Rackheath (Norwich) and NW Bicester, all led or strongly supported by their local authorities who can see both the potential for their new eco-town and the benefit for existing communities in regeneration, higher quality jobs and new green infrastructure. Each of these four locations has the capacity to link well into existing development, as well as the scale to function as a new settlement. None are self-contained developments in the middle of the countryside.

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These locations will receive continuing government support including a share of a special £60 million growth fund to support local infrastructure.

Alongside the new eco-towns PPS I am publishing a series of documents which demonstrate the detailed work and assessment on which my decisions today are based. These are:

an update of the sustainability appraisal;a sustainability statement;an impact assessment;

summary of responses to the consultation on the draft PPS;

a location decision statement.

I am placing copies in the Library of the House.

However the PPS is a statement about potential. The decision on whether or not the eco-town schemes go ahead is for the local planning authority. Schemes can be considered in local plans and will be the subject of individual planning applications, and local consultation, which will be decided on their merits by the local authority.

In addition to the first four pioneering locations in the PPS we have said we want to see up to 10 eco-towns by 2020, so I am making the offer to work with and help fund a further six local authorities in developing proposals through regional and local plans. We have offered additional support to two authorities where proposals were not sufficiently advanced to be included in the PPS-Uttlesford and Doncaster-to enable them to take forward these locations through their local plans if this is the preferred option they choose to pursue. I have set aside £5 million to support these and other areas to carry out further assessment and technical work including potential future locations to come through plans in other regions.

The eco-towns concept-more sustainable living in new communities-has attracted real interest. When a whole community is planned at this scale (5,000 homes is broadly the size necessary to support a secondary school) there is an opportunity to completely rethink how transport, employment, retail and other services are provided as well as designing housing to exemplary standards. In practice this means features such as smart homes with remote control of heating and ventilation, real-time information on available transport, state of the art provision for home working, including high-quality broadband.

The PPS I am publishing today sets out for the highest standards for green living ever set. Eco-town developments must be able to demonstrate essential features to achieve the highest levels of sustainability. Examples of the PPS standards include ensuring:

zero carbon status across all the town's buildings, including commercial and public buildings as well as homes-a significantly tougher threshold than any existing or agreed targets;40 per cent of the area within the town to be green space, at least half of which should be open to the public as parks or recreation areas;a minimum of one job per house can be reached by walking, cycling or public transport to reduce dependence on the car;

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all homes are located within 10 minutes' walk of frequent public transport and everyday neighbourhood services; smart, efficient, affordable homes taking their energy from the sun, wind and earth.
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