asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what are his latest initiatives to persuade local authorities to dispose of their surplus land.
My right hon. Friend is keeping up the pressure on public bodies, including local authorities, to bring idle land back into use or to dispose of it, by means of regular batches of notices under section 99 of the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980. These give notice of his proposals to direct them under section 98 of the Act to take steps to dispose of particular sites. So far 115 such notices have been issued, and, where appropriate, these are followed by directions.In addition, we have made it simpler for those seeking sites to consult the land register by reproducing the entries on a computer data base that may be interrogated from terminals in London, Birmingham, and Newcastle upon Tyne.My right hon. Friend has invited the public to draw to his attention unused and underused sites which they believe are owned by public bodies and should be included on the land register. He has also invited them to request him to use his powers to direct the disposal of land that is registered.Since the land register was started, over 17,000 acres of land owned by local authorities have been brought back into use or sold, and altogether 38,000 acres owned by public bodies have been removed from the register.