Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page


Viscount Simon asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Hayman: All of the local authorities involved in the trial have borne their own set-up costs. The estimated total costs to each could be up to £114,000 for a full year's work. The details are given in the compliance cost assessment which was deposited in the Library last December.

16 Mar 1998 : Column WA114

Viscount Simon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What they estimate is the likely income to local authorities from the roadside emission test pilot scheme.[HL986]

Baroness Hayman: The level of fixed penalties which were agreed by Parliament last year are intended to enable local authorities to recover the costs of enforcement and no more. The details were given in a compliance cost assessment which was deposited in the Library of the House last December.

Viscount Simon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will establish an independent monitor to evaluate the roadside emission pilot schemes, taking particular note of:


    (a) the number of people rectifying their vehicular emissions following a failure of the test;


    (b) the service records of those stopped;


    (c) public reaction to testing;


    (d) the age and type of vehicles failing and passing the test respectively;


    (e) the impact on air quality;


    (f) the cost-effectiveness of the test as an awareness-raising measure compared with other methods;


    (g) the training given to local authority staff.

Baroness Hayman: We are making appropriate arrangements to monitor and evaluate the trial of the local authority emission-checking scheme.

Channel Tunnel Concession Agreement Extension

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the heads of terms of the Intergovernmental Agreement between the British and French Governments on the Channel Tunnel signed on 13 February; and whether they will place a copy of the full agreement in the Library of the House.[HL967]

Baroness Hayman: The heads of agreement signed on 13 February 1998 by the British and French Governments and by Eurotunnel incorporate commercial undertakings by Eurotunnel which it would not be appropriate to place in the Library of the House. A formal amendment to the Channel Tunnel Concession Agreement is being drafted; this, like the two previous amendments to that agreement, will be published as a Command Paper and will be deposited in the Library.

The conditions upon which the extension of Eurotunnel's concession was granted are:


    obtaining all approvals and clearances required to implement the measures in the agreement;


    implementation of the commitments of the parties to Eurotunnel's Financial Restructuring Proposals of May 1997;

16 Mar 1998 : Column WA115


    Eurotunnel entering into an agreement whereby, in return for extending the concession and throughout the duration of that extension, Eurotunnel will pay to the two governments a total annual sum, including all forms of corporation tax, equal to 59 per cent. of the pre-tax profits;


    the parties to the usage contract agreeing not to extend that contract in line with the extension of the concession.

The agreement also makes clear that the extension is granted to the benefit of Eurotunnel only, and will not come into effect if substitution under Clause 32 of the concession agreement is in place at 28 July 2052.

Thorne and Hatfield Moors: Peat Extraction

Lord Beaumont of Whitley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Hayman on 17 February that they were "not aware of any advice from English Nature that the extraction of peat at Thorne and Hatfield Moors should be stopped" (WA28), whether (a) they were aware of the text of English Nature's News Release (EN/97/28); (b) they had received this document formally; (c) if they were aware of the News Release, they did not regard the contents as "advice".[HL1000]

Baroness Hayman: English Nature's News Release EN/97/28 was conveyed to Ministers under cover of a letter dated 2 December from the Chairman, Lord Cranbrook. The letter refers to the decision of council not to pursue the denotification of the SSSIs at Thorne and Hatfield. Neither the letter, nor the Press Notice accompanying it (which states only in general terms that English Nature has repeatedly advised that there should be rigorous appraisal of the opportunities for local authorities to revoke ancient planning permissions) are seen as constituting explicit advice to Government that the extraction of peat at Thorne and Hatfield should be stopped.

Lord Beaumont of Whitley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they propose to take to stop the extraction of peat at Thorne and Hatfield Moors in view of the statement made by the Earl of Cranbrook contained in English Nature's News Release (EN/97/98).[HL1001]

Baroness Hayman: English Nature's News Release EN/97/28 includes the general statement from Lord Cranbrook that English Nature has repeatedly advised that there should be rigorous appraisal of the opportunities for local authorities to revoke ancient planning permissions. English Nature's position statement on lowland peatland emphasises that its policy is to seek to protect peatland SSSIs with existing planning permission from further damage by peat extraction through advice and liaison with operators: grant aid to facilitate conservation management: purchase and management by a conservation body: agreement, lease or purchase by

16 Mar 1998 : Column WA116

English Nature: and supporting local authorities in reviewing planning consents and permissions.

In relation to Thorne and Hatfield, most areas which bear flora and fauna of conservation value will not be worked for peat, and English Nature is continuing to manage them with the assistance of the extraction company. As additional areas become worked out, they are being passed back to English Nature in a condition ready for conservation management to be undertaken. The local authority is also reviewing the terms of the existing permission under the provisions of the Environment Act 1995.

The Planning System

Baroness Nicol asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How they propose to improve the delivery of local plans and unitary development plans.[HL1071]

Baroness Hayman: The Statement Modernising Planning, published on 15 January, set out our policies to improve the operation of the planning system. In accordance with those policies we have today published a consultation paper on proposals for changes to the arrangements for the preparation and adoption by local authorities of local plans and unitary development plans. Copies of the consultation paper have been placed in the Library.

This Government are committed to the plan-led system of development. This provides the essential framework for rational and consistent planning decisions, and plays a vital role in promoting development and growth which respects the environment. But if the plan-led system is to work there must be plans which cover all parts of the country and an effective system to keep those plans up to date.

The previous Government agreed a target date with local authorities for substantial coverage of local plans by the end of 1996. Only 43 per cent. coverage was achieved by that date. The figure is expected to be about 70 per cent. by the end of 1998. We therefore propose to introduce changes to national policy guidance and to procedures aimed at:


    promoting shorter, clearer plans;


    securing better targeted consultation;


    encouraging authorities to announce and be accountable for a target timetable;


    promoting negotiation on objections in order to reduce the number of issues requiring discussion at the inquiry;


    making the Inspector's report publicly available within a set time period; and


    encouraging the prompt adoption of plans.

Improvements in the quality and content of plans have a crucial role in speeding up the development plans' system. The revised guidance draws attention to the scope for authorities to learn from the best practice of others. However, ensuring that efficient procedures are in place is only part of the answer. Much of the success of these proposals depends on the approach adopted by

16 Mar 1998 : Column WA117

the local authorities in taking them forward. These proposals will improve the system only if used constructively by planning authorities and there is real commitment from them to making the plan-led system work.

Hand-held Phones: Use While Driving

Lord Dormand of Easington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they are taking to ensure that motorists are made aware of the dangers of using a hand-held mobile phone while driving.[HL1060]

Baroness Hayman: We have today launched a publicity campaign to make clear to motorists the dangers of using hand-held phones while driving. The campaign includes advertisements in national newspapers and an advisory leaflet reminding motorists of the dangers of using hand-held phones and offering advice on hands-free phone use. Copies of the leaflet have been placed in the Library.

We are pleased to say that the campaign is supported by the mobile phone industry and four major mobile phone network operators who are producing complementary leaflets for their customers. This will help ensure that the message reaches the relevant audience.


Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page