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Volume 462: debated on Thursday 28 June 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what funding her Department and its agencies have provided for the iGather project; and what plans there are to roll it out across England. (141824)

The iGather project was awarded funding of £300,000 in March 2005. The project has developed a prototype to enable ready access to environmental, employment, housing and other data stored electronically to assist planners to carry out sustainability appraisals effectively and efficiently.

The purpose of a sustainability appraisal, mandatory under the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, is to promote sustainable development through the integration of social, environmental and economic considerations into the preparation of revisions of regional spatial strategies and for new or revised development plan documents and supplementary planning documents.

Further work is being carried out, which will enable the prototype to be fully operational for the South West region by the end of 2007. No decision has yet been made on its further roll out.