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Written Answers to Questions

Monday 26 March 2001


Light Dues

Mr. Martlew: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement on light dues. [155949]

Mr. Hill: I am pleased to announce that the light dues rates will remain the same for 2001-02.

Following four years of stability, the current rates were set in 1997 when charges were reduced by an average of 4.6 per cent. The General Lighthouse Authorities deserve

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credit for their efforts in trying to maximise efficiency while keeping costs down.

We will consult the shipping industry on the current charging regime later this year, to discuss where there can be further savings and improvements.

Local Government Finance

Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement on Government policy on competitive bidding for funds by local councils on specific projects; and how much level of public expenditure was allocated to such arrangements in (a) 1996-97 and (b) 2000-01. [153801]

Ms Armstrong: The vast majority of Government support to local authorities is provided as general support. Competitive bidding for funds can play a part in bringing forward local proposals for specific projects. Figures for that part of Government support allocated by competitive bidding, as opposed to provision through a standard allocation process, on specific projects for which local authorities are able to bid, are given in the table.

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£ million

Education Standards Fund4678
New Deal for Schools capital(3)--450
Health programmes2421
New Deal for Communities(3)--120
Air Quality and Smoke Control Supplementary Credit Approvals33
Estates renewal3081
Estate Action25268
Land reclamation516
Crime Fighting Fund and schools intervention(3)--48
PFI credits for joined up schemes(3)--30
Invest to Save Budget(3)--39
Capital Modernisation Fund(3)--340
European Structural Funds(4)116212
Single Regeneration Budget (Challenge Fund)/SRB(5)265814
City Challenge(6)224--
DCMS/Wolfson Public Libraries Challenge Fund(3)--2
Combined Conservation Area Partnership Schemes and Heritage Economic Regeneration Scheme125
Innovative transport project(3)--1
Rural Bus Challenge(3)--20

(1) Actual outturn

(2) Provisional

(3) Programmes did not exist in 1996-97

(4) Outturn for both years

(5) In the SRB, local regeneration partnerships, which normally include local authority partners, were able to bid for resources under individual bidding rounds (1-6)

(6) Programme ended in 1998.

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In addition £18.5 million has been allocated to fund the development of new and the extension of existing neighbourhood warden schemes.

Explosion (Sandhurst, Gloucestershire)

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when he expects to receive the (a) next and (b) final reports from the (i) Environment Agency and (ii) Health and Safety Executive, following the explosion at Sandhurst, Gloucestershire; and if he will make a statement. [153747]

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Mr. Meacher [holding answer 15 March 2001]: Three reports from the Environment Agency and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have been received and placed in the Library of the House:

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The final report of the joint investigation (Report One) will be split into two parts. Part 1 will report on the COMAH investigation into the cause of the fire and will be submitted to the European Commission by 12 April. It will not include decisions on prosecution. Part 2 will report on the Agency's and HSE's views on liability and prosecution of the operator. In the light of Counsel's advice, the Agency advise that they now expect Part 2 to be completed and submitted to Ministers by late summer. A progress report, providing an indication of possible breaches of the waste controls, will be submitted to Ministers by 30 April.

Crash Barriers

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what the specifications for use are of (a) corrugated steel crash barriers and (b) concrete crash barriers on (i) motorways and (ii) trunk roads; and what criteria were used in determining the specifications. [154472]

Mr. Hill: I have asked the Chief Executive of the Highways Agency, Tim Matthews, to write to the hon. Member.

Letter from John Kerman to Mr. David Amess, dated 26 March 2001:

Mobile Phone Masts

Mr. Linton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what advice he has given local planning authorities on applications to erect mobile phone masts in residential areas. [154833]

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Mr. Raynsford: Government planning policy for telecommunications is set out in Planning Policy Guidance note 8 (revised): Telecommunications and the Department's Circular 4-99 "Planning for Telecommunications".

I wrote to Council leaders in June 2000 to explain the action the Government had in hand to take forward the planning recommendations of the Stewart report ("Mobile Phones and Health") published in May 2000. This letter said that the Stewart report had concluded that

In response to a question from my hon. Friend the Member for Basildon (Angela Smith), I announced on 16 March 2001, Official Report, columns 748-51W, a series of important changes to the planning system for telecommunications masts which the Government intend to make. These will significantly strengthen the current arrangements. On that day, I wrote to the Leaders of all Councils in England to advise them of the proposed changes. Copies of the letter were sent to Chief Planning Officers. I also wrote in similar terms to all hon. Members for constituencies in England.

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