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Sub-regions (South-West)

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, pursuant to his answer of 13 February 2000, Official Report, column 117W, Ref. 150340, which parliamentary constituencies fall within more than one sub-region of the South-West Region. [150985]

Ms Beverley Hughes: I have nothing further to add to my answer of 13 February 2001, Official Report, column 117W. The sub-areas are broadly defined, overlap and, like the rest of the proposed changes to RPG 10, are open to public consultation. It is not possible to be as specific as the question suggests.

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, pursuant to his answer of 13 February 2001, Official Report, column 117W, which sub-regions comprise all or part of (a) Dorset, (b) Wiltshire, (c) Somerset, (d) Devon, (e) Cornwall and (f) Gloucestershire. [150984]

Ms Beverley Hughes: The areas are described in Table 2 (reproduced) of the proposed changes to draft RPG10, which was published on 21 December 2000. The document was sent to all MPs in the region and placed in the House of Commons Library.

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Table 2: Sub-regional structure

Sub-region Main county areasPrincipal urban areas in sub-region
NorthernFormer Avon, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire except southBristol, Bath, Weston-super-Mare, Gloucester, Cheltenham, Swindon
South-EasternDorset, southern WiltshireBournemouth, Poole
CentralEastern Devon, SomersetTaunton, Exeter, Torbay
WesternCornwall, northern and western Devon, western Somerset, Isles of ScillyPlymouth

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Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, pursuant to his answer of 13 February 2001, Official Report, column 117W, if there is an overlap between the south eastern sub-region of the South West and the South East Region; and if he will make a statement. [150990]

Ms Beverley Hughes: The sub-regional approach proposed in the revised draft Regional Planning Guidance (RPG) for the South-West is limited to the South-West region. The Guidance recognises that cross-boundary issues may arise in the implementation of RPG and that regional planning bodies will need to liaise accordingly.

Quarries (Nottinghamshire)

Mr. Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what discussions he has had with Nottinghamshire County Council about the need for extensions to existing (a) red and (b) yellow sandstone quarries in the county. [150818]

Ms Beverley Hughes: The Secretary of State has had no discussions with Nottinghamshire County Council about the need for extensions to existing (a) red and (b) yellow sandstone in the county.

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There are a number of applications currently before Nottinghamshire County Council concerning the extension of sandstone quarries. These have been submitted under the provisions of both the Town and Country Planning legislation and the Environment Act 1995. The County Council has statutory responsibility to determine these applications and a duty of legal impartiality prevents the Secretary of State from commenting on their planning merits.

Mr. Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what assessment he has made of the demand for (a) red and (b) yellow sandstone over the next 20 years. [150816]

Ms Beverley Hughes: The Secretary of State has made no estimate of the demand for (a) red and (b) yellow sandstone over the next 20 years.

Estimates of demand for aggregate minerals at the national and regional levels were published in Minerals Planning Guidance Note 6 "Guidelines for aggregates provision in England" in 1994. Figures were provided for crushed rock but not for separate types of crushed rock such as sandstone. It was left to Mineral Planning Authorities to consider the implications for specific types of mineral within their administrative areas. MPG6 is

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being reviewed with a view to publication of revised guidance next year. Current and likely levels of future demand for aggregates as a whole will be considered as part of that process.

Mr. Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what estimate he has made of the reserves of (a) red and (b) yellow sandstone with existing planning permissions. [150817]

Ms Beverley Hughes: The Secretary of State has made no estimate of the reserves of (a) red and (b) yellow sandstone with existing planning permissions.

A survey of aggregate minerals for 1997 in England and Wales, including permitted reserves, was undertaken by Minerals Planning Authorities. Results were collated and published for my Department by the British Geological Survey. These included figures for rock reserves in each region. Permitted reserves of sandstone in England totalled 244 million tonnes, mainly in the North West, West Midlands, and Yorkshire and the Humber Regions. Specific types of sandstone were not identified in this survey.

Rights of Way

Mr. Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what areas he will designate for the diversion of public rights of way under Part II of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. [150704]

Mr. Meacher: In designating areas within which local highway authorities may make special extinguishment orders and special diversion orders for crime prevention reasons under Part II of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, we shall seek to identify locations where the new powers are most needed. We shall consult local authorities and others before making any orders to designate areas in which the powers will be available.

Nuclear Contamination

Mr. Cotter: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what percentage of ports have used Geigercounters on a regular basis to check for nuclear contamination of cargo vessels for each year since 1981. [150799]

Mr. Meacher: Information of this nature is not held.

Mr. Cotter: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many inquiries he has received over the past 10 years about safety standards on ships that have previously been used to dump nuclear waste at sea. [150798]

Mr. Meacher: There have been no inquiries that my Department has been able to identify.

Aggregates

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what discussions he has had with other EU Environment Ministers on proposals to tax aggregates. [150842]

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Ms Beverley Hughes: My right hon. Friend the Minister for Housing and Planning has not discussed the proposals to tax aggregates with other EU Environment Ministers. However, DETR officials have had contact on this and other aspects of aggregates policy with the officials of some other EU countries over the past three years.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what discussions he has had with (a) quarry operators and (b) construction companies regarding the planned aggregates tax. [150841]

Ms Beverley Hughes: My right hon. Friend the Minister for Housing and Planning and his predecessor have had a range of discussions about the proposed aggregates levy with quarry operators and construction companies.

Mr. Green: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what estimate he has made of the change in the number of lorry movements required in the 12 months following the introduction of the Aggregates Levy as a result of the substitution of recycled aggregates for virgin aggregates. [150683]

Ms Beverley Hughes: There are so many variables involved in making an estimate of the change in numbers of lorry movements required in the 12 months following the introduction of an Aggregates Levy that a meaningful figure could not be produced. Aggregates, whether virgin or recycled, will need to be carried to the market so the numbers of lorry movements may be broadly similar for given quantities of each. However it is expected that the Aggregates Levy will reduce consumption of virgin aggregates as a result of increased efficiency and less wastage at the construction site. Other things being equal, this should reduce the amount of lorry movements overall.

Mr. Green: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what estimate he has made of the amount of recycled aggregates that would be substituted for virgin aggregates as a result of the Aggregates Levy; and if he will make a statement. [150682]

Ms Beverley Hughes: The amount of recycled aggregates that would be substituted for virgin aggregates as a result of the Aggregates Levy cannot be predicted with certainty. The size of any change will depend on how the producers and consumers of aggregate respond to the levy and to consequent changes in prices in both the short and longer term. The Regulatory Impact Assessment that was prepared in 2000 to accompany the proposal for the levy noted that, using the short run estimate of price elasticity produced by ECOTEC for the Quarry Products Association in 1998, a best estimate of the impact of a £1.60 levy on the demand for primary aggregates would be a reduction of around 10 per cent. of production or, currently, about 24 million tonnes per year. Alternative materials, including recycled aggregate, would replace some of this reduced production, and less aggregate would be required as a result of increased efficiency and less waste of all aggregates. At any level of production, the levy should encourage a shift away from virgin aggregate towards alternative materials such as recycled aggregate.

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