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Planning Appeals

Ann McKechin: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he has

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completed his review of the effectiveness of the changes to the planning appeal procedures implemented on 1 August 2000; and if he will make a statement. [33838]

Ms Keeble: Revised procedures were introduced on 1 August 2000 to improve the handling of planning appeals by inquiry, hearing, and written representations to streamline the process and make the arrangements fairer and more transparent. When launching the new arrangements we indicated that their operation would be monitored and reviewed after a year.

We have now completed the review in conjunction with the Planning Inspectorate and a wide range of stakeholders, including appellants, local planning authorities, planning agents, and third parties. Local planning authorities were surveyed and a series of stakeholder meetings was held.

Overall, the new rules are meeting the objectives of improved handling and greater fairness. The new arrangements represented a radical change of culture for all concerned. Strict enforcement of deadlines has had a big impact on parties' delivery of documents and has contributed to improved performance by the Planning Inspectorate in deciding planning appeals over the last year. There is now greater recognition and acceptance that all parties have a responsibility in making the appeals system work smoothly.

We have concluded that no further changes to the procedures should be made at this stage. Rather, we intend to allow more time for the new rules to bed in. In the meantime, it is essential that all parties adhere to deadlines and do not seek to gain advantage over others by failing to do so. We shall continue to reinforce this message and to keep the operation of the procedures closely under review. We do not rule out the possibility of further measures to improve the operation of the planning appeals procedures to tackle abuses and to improve the speed of decisions.

The Planning Green Paper which we published on 12 December 2001 notes the dramatic improvements made by the Planning Inspectorate in the timeliness of appeal decisions and that we are working with them to consider ways in which the targets we set for this work might be improved still further without compromising quality.

We welcome the publication on 30 January of "Planning Practice Standard: Handling Appeals in England", prepared by the Royal Town Planning Institute with the active involvement of the Planning Inspectorate. This gives helpful good practice advice on participation in the planning appeals system and underlines the importance of parties acting in a responsible, co-operative and timely manner and of observing high standards of professional conduct.

Greater London Authority

Mr. Love: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what level of general grant he will set for the Greater London Authority in 2002–03. [33834]

Mr. Raynsford: General GLA Grant for 2002–03 has today been determined at £27.95 million, after consultation with the Mayor of London. This includes

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provision for accommodation costs at City Hall, the landmark building the Government are providing for the GLA and the Londoners from June this year.


Animal Transport Directive

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the extent to which the provisions as outlined in the European directive on animal transport (Council Directive 91/625/EEC, as amended by 95/628/EEC) are working to protect non-human primates during transport; and if she will make a statement. [32633]

Mr. Morley: This is a matter that we shall take up with the European Commission later this year when they bring forward proposals to improve and update Directive 91/628/EEC, as amended, on the protection of animals during transport.


Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what operational changes have resulted in changes in the number of cases of BSE confirmed by active surveillance. [32197]

Mr. Morley: The increase in positive cases of BSE identified by active surveillance is a direct result of the expansion of our active surveillance programme since 1 July 2001.

In July 2001, in Great Britain we tested nearly 4,000 cattle of which 0.5 per cent. were confirmed as positive; in December 2001 we tested nearly 19,000 cattle of which 0.4 per cent. were confirmed as positive.

Air Pollution

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many days of (a) moderate, (b) high and (c) very high air pollution there were recorded at Lullington Heath, East Sussex, in each year since 1997. [31962]

Mr. Meacher [holding answer 31 January 2002]: The numbers of days of moderate, high and very high pollution at Lullington Heath since 1997 are given in Table 1. Pollution at each site is defined according to the pollutant that is in the highest band during the day. Ratified data are available up to 30 September 2001. After this date, care must be taken in interpretation of the pollution levels recorded, since high measurements may be the result of instrument error that is still to be identified.

Table 1: Number of days of moderate, high and very high air pollution at Lullington Heath, East Sussex in each year since 1997

ModerateHighVery high

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All the days of moderate, high and very high pollution recorded at Lullington Heath were due to ozone pollution. There were no recorded days of moderate, high or very high pollution for nitrogen dioxide or sulphur dioxide in any of the five years. High air pollution episodes due to ozone are recorded only in the summer months. The pollution is linked to hot sunny weather when industrial and motor vehicle emissions react under these conditions to form ground-level ozone. Light easterly winds sometimes bring this pollution across to the UK from central Europe. If conditions are very still for several days then high pollution can be generated by pollution emissions from UK sources too.

Racial Unrest

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to act on the analysis in the Sustainable Development Commission Review of last summer's racial unrest in respect of the importance of environmental justice. [29409]

Mr. Meacher [holding answer 22 January 2002]: The Sustainable Development Commission Review helpfully draws attention to the links between social deprivation and environmental inequality, and it highlights the significant impact this has on ethic minority communities.

My speech on Environmental Equity given to the Environmental Law Foundation on 21 November 2001 demonstrates how seriously I view these issues, and the work I am doing to generate debate and find answers.

The issues raised are cross-cutting, from regeneration to justice. They involve many Government Departments and agencies. Examples of our work so far include the Action Plan published last November for addressing the housing needs of black and ethnic minority people. This has 70 specific commitments about such things as, for example, allocations policy. The Neighbourhood Renewal Unit has developed Community Support Teams. Each has a pool of people with special skills who can be deployed flexibly and directly. They will be able to support and develop local political leadership to supplement the local authorities and Local Strategic Partnerships. The reports published in December 2001 about last summer's disturbances in Bradford, Oldham and Burnley stressed the need to make community cohesion a central policy objective of all that we do. This must include environmental policy.


Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many applications there have been for recycling plants for refrigerators and freezers in Buckinghamshire area; and when she expects them to be operational. [30044]

Mr. Meacher: There have been no planning applications for recycling plants for refrigerators and freezers in the Buckinghamshire area. Neither have there been any applications for waste management licences for such plants.

Foot and Mouth

Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps she is

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taking to enable (a) farmers and (b) non-farmers to have access to funds available for rural recovery following the foot and mouth crisis. [31158]

Alun Michael: As the hon. Member is aware from a previous answer of 29 November 2001, Official Report, column 539W, the Government have been actively raising awareness among affected businesses of the financial aid available to help cope with the impact of foot and mouth disease. The Small Business Service has sent out 3.7 million copies of their leaflet "Coping with Foot and Mouth Disease—help for business" via banks, post offices, trade associations, employer organisations, etc. Business advice fact sheets have been posted on DEFRA's website,, and we have set up help lines. The regional development agencies have also been actively promoting the Business Recovery Fund.

"England's Rural Future" published on 13 December our response to the reports of the Rural Task Force and Lord Haskins along with steps taken to implement the Rural White Paper. We are further promoting increased awareness and penetration of the measures we have put in place.

The Small Business Service embarked on an ambitious £2.5 million national advertising campaign in autumn 2001 under the title "The Unfair Advantage". It is designed to improve awareness of Business Links, and start driving responses from all business sectors to the national contact centre or Business Link website.

Farmers whose animals have been culled out as a result of foot and mouth disease have been targeted directly for the enhanced (five day) Farm Business Advice Service (FBAS). Publicity for the service has been direct to farms in the form of a personalised mail shot and explanatory leaflet. In addition the Rural Development Service's seminars held locally outlined the components of the service and how farmers can register. Further regional promotion by Business Links is conducted as and when it is necessary.

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