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Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Williams of Mostyn: I refer the noble Lord to my previous Answers on 6 November (WA 123), 9 December 2002 (WA 2) and 20 January 2003 (WA 81).

Northern Ireland Ambulance Service

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord Williams of Mostyn: The press release correctly identified all the HPSS elements of the reinvestment and reform initiative package announced by the First and Deputy First Ministers.

Waterways Ireland: Capital Projects

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Privy Seal on 7 January (WA 173), what were the capital projects recently completed by Waterways Ireland at Limerick Harbour, Boyle Harbour, Ballinasloe Harbour, Ballyleague in County Roscommon, Shannonbridge in County Offaly and at Scarriff in County Clare; in each case who were the contractors; and how much each is estimated to cost[HL1186]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Details of the capital works completed are as follows:


    1. Limerick Harbour


    The main components of the scheme to extend the Shannon Navigation into Limerick City were a 260m long weir, the restoration of the lock gates at Sarsfield Lock and the provision of three sets of floating moorings at George's Quay, Custom House Quay and Arthur's Quay. The effect of the scheme is greatly to increase navigational access and, for the first time, to allow mooring in the heart of the city.


    Limerick City Council acted as agents for Waterways Ireland, which had no direct involvement in the running of the scheme. The main contractor was Uniform Construction, and Waterways Ireland's contribution was Stg £1.85 million. The scheme officially opened on 20 July 2001.


    2. Boyle Harbour


    At Boyle, Co. Roscommon, an extension to the navigation was opened to traffic on 25 May 2001. This allows boat traffic to come within easy reach of the town via a new 1250m canal coming off the Boyle river, passing under the recently opened Curlews by-pass road and terminating at a harbour with accommodation for 27 vessels and complete with fully equipped service block, car park and refuse disposal facility. The scheme was mainly carried out by Waterways Ireland's own direct labour force, with specialist contractors being engaged for certain aspects as follows:


    The installation of a slurry wall was contracted to Pearse-Bachy, the building of the harbour walls to Coffey Construction and the building of a service block to T.H. Construction. The total cost of the scheme was Stg £2.2 million.


    3. Ballinasloe


    The Ballinasloe, Co. Galway, scheme, which terminates at a harbour close to the town, facilitates navigation along the Suck river for 16km from the main river Shannon. The work included the dredging of 5km of channel, the

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    provision of a lock at Pollboy, the rehabilitation of a fishery and the excavation of a site for the harbour. The harbour, consisting of floating moorings, caters for 24 vessels and is fully equipped with a service block, water and lighting. The scheme was completed mainly using Waterways Ireland's own direct labour workforce, with the floating moorings supplied by Bancon Marina Systems Ltd. It was opened to boat traffic on 25 May, 2001 and cost Stg £1.75 million.

My previous Answer clearly indicated that work at Ballyleague, Shannonbridge and Scarriff is not yet completed.

Northern Ireland Civil Service

Lord Rogan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Privy Seal on 14 January (WA 27), whether they will define the differences between the Home Civil Service Commissioners' Recruitment Code and the Northern Ireland Civil Service Commissioners' Recruitment Code.[HL1208]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Both the Northern Ireland Civil Service Commissioners in respect of the Northern Ireland Civil Service and the Civil Service Commissioners in respect of the Home Civil Service are required by their respective Orders in Council to uphold the principle of selection for appointment on merit on the basis of fair and open competition. In further meeting the requirements of the Orders in Council, their respective recruitment codes are concerned both with the interpretation and application of that principle and also the limited range of circumstances where the commissioners permit exceptions to the recruitment principle.

The detailed contents of the recruitment codes are a matter for the commissioners. I understand, however, that the differences in format and processes between the two codes (which are available on the commissioners' websites at www.nicscommissioners.org and www.civilservicecommissioners.gov.uk) are a result of the different scales of operation covered by the two commissioner bodies.

Lord Rogan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Privy Seal on 12 December 2002 (WA 48), what are the local arrangements for security vetting of the Northern Ireland Civil Service.[HL1209]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The focus of national security vetting arrangements for members of the Northern Ireland Civil Service has always been particular to the circumstances of Northern Ireland. These arrangements have accordingly differed from those in place in respect of the Home Civil Service and may not have been, for example, as thorough regarding threats to national security unrelated to Irish terrorism. The review announced by the

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Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on 12 December will consider whether changes are now needed to the Northern Ireland Civil Service arrangements to take account of changed circumstances.

Holywood, Co. Down: Conservation

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Environment and Heritage Service of the Northern Ireland Department of the Environment was consulted about the potential effect the housing development at 10–20 Bangor Road, Holywood, County Down, would have on the Priory Church and the listed houses at Tudor Park; and, if so, what was that advice.[HL1210]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Planning Service takes account of a number of factors when considering planning applications and consults the Environment and Heritage Service on any planning applications which may affect a listed building or its setting.

Following consideration of a range of issues in relation to the development at 10–20 Bangor Road, Holywood, the Planning Service considered that it was not necessary to consult with the Environment and Heritage Service. The issues considered included the separation distances of over 100 metres between the development site and both the Priory and the listed houses at Tudor Oaks, the intervening development and the lack of visual relationship between the properties referred to and the proposed development site.

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps they have taken to designate a conservation area in Holywood, Co. Down; and, if none, why not.[HL1283]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Department of the Environment has received numerous requests from Holywood Conservation Group and other interested parties seeking conservation area status for areas within Holywood. The previous Minister and departmental officials have met with the group to discuss this issue and explain the department's position.

Holywood falls within the remit of the Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan. As part of the plan preparation process, the department has appointed consultants to advise on those locations within the Down Metropolitan Area, including Holywood, which merit special planning protection by reason of their quality and character of the built environment. The draft plan, which is programmed to be published in September 2003, will present the department's proposals. The plan process cannot designate conservation areas as designation is a separate statutory process. However, it will identify areas of townscape character (ATC). Such ATCs can be subsequently considered for designation as conservation areas under the separate statutory

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process provided by Article 50 of the Planning (NI) Order 1991 where they are of sufficient quality to merit conservation area status.

Downpatrick Divisional Planning Office undertook to carry out preparatory work to shorten the timescale of conservation area designation if this is to be adopted as an appropriate way forward for Holywood. To this end, the conservation officer from this office has met the Holywood Conservation Group. The group is also in the process of producing a booklet on the issue to inform the debate.

Northern Ireland: Protection of the Historic Environment

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps they have taken to protect unlisted buildings in Northern Ireland which are valued by residents as contributing to the character of an area; whether consideration has been given to the removal of VAT on building renovation in contrast to new building work; and whether the increased demands on concentrated development within settlements will result in a change in the criteria for listed buildings.[HL1211]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Government are aware of recent public disquiet over the loss or threatened loss by demolition of a number of buildings in Northern Ireland which, while not statutorily listed, were or are valued by local residents because of their age and character and sometimes their associations with noted public figures from Northern Ireland. While such buildings situated outside conservation areas, where control of demolition exists, may not necessarily merit listing, their potential loss often causes great concern to residents. The draft Planning (Amendment) (Northern Ireland) Order 2003, currently before Parliament, which contains provisions to extend control over the demolition of buildings to areas of townscape character, will go some way to allay these concerns.

The order has other provisions in relation to the protection of the historic environment, including higher penalties, possibly involving custodial sentences, for unauthorised demolition of listed buildings and the introduction to Northern Ireland of building preservation notices (i.e. spot listing) to enable the department to respond quickly to protect buildings at risk.

Strengthened enforcement powers proposed in the order will also apply to listed buildings and buildings in conservation areas and will enable the department to take speedier and more effective action against unauthorised works to the historic environment.

Development plans, formulated as part of the current development plan programme, may contain proposals for new or extended conservation areas or further areas of townscape character.

As regards the removal of VAT on building renovation, the UK maintains its zero rates under

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long-standing formal agreements with our European partners. Under these agreements, we cannot extend our existing zero rates or introduce any new ones. It is therefore not possible to introduce a zero rate for building renovations.

The department has authority to list buildings of special architectural or historic interest under the Planning (NI) Order 1991 and the criteria for such listing are contained in Annex C (the Selection of Listed Buildings) of Planning Policy Statement 6, Planning, Archaeology and the Built Heritage. The criteria for listing buildings in Northern Ireland are comparable with those used across the UK. The department does not envisage a change in these criteria as a result of increased demands on concentrated development within settlements.


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