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Mr. Nigel Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement on the suspension of train services due to tunnel and track repairs on the Cheltenham to Swindon line. 
Mr. Hill: Railtrack is undertaking a major engineering project following flood damage to the 155 year-old Sapperton Tunnel, between Swindon and Gloucester. The cap of a former construction shaft in the floor of the tunnel collapsed due to the amount of stormwater flowing through the tunnel drainage system.
The track over the shaft will be removed before foundations, bearings and new concrete slabs can be installed over the shafthead. Works will also be carried out to four similar shafts to ensure future storms do not cause another collapse.
Mr. Nigel Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement on planning issues in relation to flood relief measures in Gloucestershire. 
Ms Beverley Hughes: The Government are committed to reducing, where possible, the risks from flooding to people, property and the natural environment. It is for the Environment Agency to bring forward flood relief measures when they are required for consideration by the appropriate local authority.
Guidance on planning issues in relation to flood relief measures and other issues related to flood risk is contained in Circular 30/92. This is currently being revised and strengthened and we expect to publish the new PPG 25 "Development and flood risk" as soon as practicable in the new year.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will issue planning guidance to local authorities on the design and materials of fences fronting dwellings in rural areas. 
Ms Beverley Hughes: Best practice guidance on all the built elements of a development is contained in "By Design", a good practice guide published jointly by my Department and the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment. The Countryside Agency has also promoted Village Design Statements and Countryside Design Summaries to assist good design in rural areas.
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proposal to widen the M4 in the vicinity of Junction 18 was (a) first included and (b) removed from the Government's road programme. 
Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when he will receive the report of the inspector on the public inquiry into coastal defences at Birling Gap. 
Ms Beverley Hughes: The Government Office for the South East received the inspector's report on the public inquiry into planning applications for coastal defences at Birling Gap on 14 November. The Secretary of State expects to issue his decisions on these applications early in the new year.
Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will list the suppliers of new rail sections to Railtrack and the country of origin for each of the last five years, including the specification required concerning (a) tempering, (b) surface hardening and (c) manufacturing method. 
Mr. Hill: Railtrack have advised that the former British Steel, now Corus Rail, and Voest Alpine Schienen of Austria had been their sole suppliers until new contracts were awarded in May of this year to Corus Rail, Voest Alpine Schienen and Lucchini SpA of Italy.
The current specifications relating to the tempering, surface hardening and manufacture of the rails are included in section RT/CE/S/061 of the Railtrack Line Standards Issue 23 of October 2000. Issue 23 is available on CD Rom and Railtrack have arranged for a copy to be placed in the House of Commons Library.
The proportion of rails subject to particular manufacturing treatments such as tempering and surface hardening continues to depend on the use to which the rails are to be put, since manufacturing specifications vary according to intended traffic loading, line speeds and the geometry of the track.
Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will place in the Library the records from Railtrack regarding the dates on which cracks occurred after the fitting of new rail. 
Mr. Hill: Railtrack have advised that it has checked 3,000 sites for gauge corner cracking. The detection and removal of affected rails is a continuous process and the information is not available in the form requested.
Mr. Hill: Railtrack have advised that the Inspection Schedule it uses to assess the condition of the track is included in their Railway Group Standards Issue 5, dated October 2000, section GC/RT5022 on inspection of rail and rail joints.
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Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will review planning guidance with regard to the siting of mobile phone masts near (a) private houses, (b) schools and (c) hospitals; and if he will require local planning authorities to refuse planning applications for new masts in cases where operators have refused to share facilities. 
Ms Beverley Hughes: A consultation exercise seeking views on possible changes to the planning laws relating to mobile phone masts and associated guidance ended on 31 October 2000. The Department is currently analysing the responses. We shall announce any changes as soon as practicable.
Current guidance in DETR Circular 4/99 already makes clear the Government's expectation that developers should provide local planning authorities with evidence that they have fully considered the use of existing masts, buildings and other structures before seeking to erect any new mast. It also says that, if the evidence regarding the consideration of alternative sites is not considered satisfactory, the authority may be justified in refusing prior approval or planning permission for the development.
Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what recent research he has conducted on the (a) health implications and (b) environmental impact of the location of mobile phone masts; and if he will make a statement. 
Ms Beverley Hughes: The Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones (the Stewart Group) was set up at the request of the then Minister for Public Health to investigate the public health implications of mobile phone technologies. The Group's report was published on 11 May and copies are in the Library. The report reviewed research findings worldwide and made a numbers of recommendations including a recommendation to initiate a substantial independent programme of research. The programme will be launched shortly. The Department has not carried out research into the environmental impact of the location of mobile phone masts.
Clare Short: Since 1997 we have refocused our development work in China away from a concentration on the old Aid and Trade Provision which softened the terms of commercial contracts. We are now building support for health and water, education and environmental
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concerns focused on the needs of the poorest regions and people. We are also supporting state owned Enterprise Reform and prevention of the spread of HIV/AIDS. China has since 1978 focused on the reduction of poverty, and the numbers living on less than 1$ per day have been reduced from 600 million to 120 million.
Clare Short: HIV/AIDS has come into China across its border with Burma and is a problem of increasing importance. We are supporting the efforts of the Chinese Government to develop a national HIV/AIDS policy, and to test innovative approaches to HIV prevention in the provinces of Sichuan and Yunnan. We are providing £15 million over five years.
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