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Mr. Green: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions which parts of the United Kingdom have failed to meet European drinking water and bathing water standards since May 1997. 
Mr. Robert Ainsworth: At least 3 million tests are done on public drinking water supplies each year, for a variety of potential contaminants. Since 1997, rates of failure to meet the relevant national standards (which are in some cases more stringent than those required under the EC Drinking Water Directive) have been as follows (figures for 2000 are not yet available).
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In the years 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2000, 57, 56, 47 and 33 UK bathing waters, respectively, failed to meet the relevant mandatory standards set in the EC Bathing Water Directive. Names and locations are included in the 'Bathing Water Directive--Detailed Summary of UK Survey Results' for each year, which have been placed in the Library.
Mr. Green: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what steps he has taken to allow councils to place conditions on planning permission to require buildings to optimise energy conservation. 
Ms Beverley Hughes: It is for local planning authorities in the first instance to decide on specific planning conditions. Advice is given in DOE Circular 11/95--The Use of Conditions in Planning Permissions. This indicates that planning conditions which duplicate the effect of other controls are normally unnecessary. The conservation of Fuel and power is covered by Part L of the Building Regulations.
Mr. Green: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what steps the Government have taken to reverse the presumption in planning policy in favour of opencast mining. 
Ms Beverley Hughes: A presumption in favour of opencast coal mining was introduced by a Conservative Administration in May 1988. This Government fulfilled their pre-election commitment to reverse the presumption in favour of opencast coal mining by issuing revised Mineral Planning Guidance on Coal (MPG3 (revised) March 1999) which advises that there should be a presumption against new coal mining development unless the proposal is environmentally acceptable (or could be made so by planning conditions or obligations) or would provide overriding local or community benefits.
Mr. Fabian Hamilton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has to reform riparian rights for those wishing to use Britain's waterways for leisure. 
Mr. Robert Ainsworth: We currently have no plans to reform riparian rights. After discussion with the main interest groups, we made a commitment to commission research into the extent of access to waterways for leisure activities. That contract was recently awarded to the University of Brighton. The results of the research will inform the future development of our policies for water-based leisure.
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Mr. David Heath: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement on his policy on major developments in (a) the area of national parks and (b) areas of outstanding natural beauty in respect of the provisions of paragraph 3.21 of PPG7. 
Ms Beverley Hughes: PPG7 makes it clear that major developments should not take place in national parks save in the most exceptional circumstances. Such developments will need to demonstrate that they are in the public interest before they proceed. All such applications for development are subject to rigorous examination and will be subject to the specific assessments set out in paragraph 4.5 of PPG7. The Government have made clear that it expects the same considerations to apply for proposals for major developments in areas of outstanding natural beauty.
Paragraph 3.21 of PPG7 indicates that new house building and other new development in open countryside, away from established settlements or from areas allocated for development in development plans, should be strictly controlled. But this paragraph also includes policy which would exceptionally allow individual isolated new houses to be built in the countryside if the proposals were of the highest quality and truly outstanding in terms of architecture and landscape design.
The Government believe that there is a need for more affordable housing in rural areas, and do not see the current planning exception for isolated large dwellings which may be built in unsustainable locations as consistent with that priority, or with its objectives for the countryside more generally. We therefore intend to consult on amendments to PPG7 to remove the exceptions policy which allows such large dwellings to be built.
Mr. Hopkins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will list (a) the amount of overhanging debt which has been written off by central Government for each local authority which has transferred its housing stock to a registered social landlord in each of the past three years, (b) the total estimated amount of overhanging debt which will be written off in 2001-02 and 2002-03 and (c) the budget heads under which these amounts are specified. 
Mr. Robert Ainsworth: A local authority is required to use the capital receipt from the transfer of its housing stock to repay the debt attributable to that stock. Where this is insufficient the Department will provide a one-off payment to assist the authority repay the debt. The capital receipt must, however, first cover any premiums payable to the Public Works Loan Board on the early repayment of the loans.
To date, four one-off payments have been made. In 1999-2000 £20.99 million was paid to Burnley. In 2000-01 payments were made to Coventry (£111.68 million) Calderdale (£64.59 million) and Blackburn with Darwen (£78.9 million). Estimates for any future one-off payments will depend upon the housing stock transfer programme for the years concerned. Any resources required for the one-off payments will be held in the DETR Housing Budget.
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Mr. Hopkins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has to subsidise local authorities, debt breakage costs where, following a large scale voluntary stock transfer, their capital receipt does not cover the full amount. 
Mr. John M. Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what his policy is concerning suburban and brown belt residential developments which increase the number of units of accommodation on the same site; what instructions and guidance he gives to inspectors appointed to preside over planning appeals in such cases; and if such instructions and guidance changed in the last four years. 
Planning Inspectors are fully briefed on PPG3 and other aspects of planning policy. No additional guidance has been issued to inspectors relating to residential developments which might increase the density of dwellings on a site. They take into account all relevant material considerations when considering planning appeals under the procedural rules that govern the handling of appeals. Revised rules were published in June 2000.
Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when he will publish the response he has received to his consultation on the control of noise from civil aircraft; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Robert Ainsworth: My Department received some 590 responses to this detailed consultation. They are currently being studied. We shall announce our conclusions in due course. Copies of the individual responses will be made available for inspection, by arrangement, at the Department's offices, except where consent to disclosure has been explicitly withheld.
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