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Petitions

Volume 475: debated on Tuesday 6 May 2008

Petitions

Tuesday 6 May 2008

Observations

Communities and Local Government

Development (Essex)

The Petition of Mrs Vanda Jimmick, residents of Hadleigh and others

Declares that Hadleigh, particularly the town shopping centre, should be protected from further overdevelopment, and that they feel the proposed development, at the corner of Oak Road North and London Road, replacing four commercial units with 30 flats and three large commercial units, with totally inadequate parking and access facilities, is environmentally damaging and local public services and road capacity are even now under great strain and unable to absorb more development, and that they feel that Hadleigh is becoming flat-land, and there is too much of this sort of housing provision, which is not suitable for families.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to implore the local borough council to reject the development of the corner of Oak Road North and London Road so the community can remain sustainable.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Bob Spink, Official Report, 10 March 2008; Vol. 473, c. 118.] [P000143]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government:

The question of whether or not to allow planning permission for the proposed redevelopment of land at the corner of Oak Road North and London Road is a matter for the local planning authority, in this instance Castle Point Borough Council.

Primary responsibility for development control within an area rests with the local planning authority. It is for them to decide in the first instance, with particular regard to the provisions of statutory development plans and any other material considerations, whether a particular development should take place. The Secretary of State rarely intervenes in the consideration of individual planning applications and then only when planning issues of national or regional significance are involved. To do so more often would be to undermine the responsibility of local authorities for planning in their area.

Local Infrastructure (Northamptonshire)

The Humble Petition of the residents of the Hatton Park area in Wellingborough and surrounding areas,

Sheweth

That for three years they have pursued, through the appropriate channels at the Borough Council of Wellingborough and Northamptonshire County Council, improvements to the local infrastructure including the speed and volume of traffic, the poor state of roads and pavements, the large and intrusive trees and illegal and dangerous parking; and further declares that these improvements have not been carried out, and are concerned that they pay the highest council tax in the Borough of Wellingborough.

Wherefore your Petitioners pray that your Honourable House urges the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to liaise with the two local authorities concerned in order to investigate the concerns above and resolve the situation

And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray, &c.—[Presented by Mr. Peter Bone, Official Report, 20 February 2008; Vol. 472, c. 486 .] [P000126]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government:

Improvements to the road infrastructure in the Wellingborough area are primarily the responsibility of the local highway authority, in this case Northamptonshire County Council, and thus the Secretary of State would not normally comment on the condition of local roads.

Government Office for the East Midlands understand that although Northamptonshire County Council have undertaken some road improvements in the Croyland Ward area these were done some time ago, and the County Council are unaware of the recent concerns of the residents in that area. They do have a large number of conflicting priorities across the county, but will try to ensure that appropriate action is taken to best serve the concerns of the local residents. Northamptonshire County Council have advised that, to best do this, sight of the petition with details of the concerns would be most helpful.

Planning (Bedfordshire)

The Petition of the campaign for a sustainable Harlington,

Declares their opposition to proposals to destroy the green belt around Harlington by building a stadium and a large industrial/commercial development on land adjacent to Junction 12 of the M1. Luton Town Football Club and the Council should find a suitable urban site for a new stadium within the boundaries of Luton.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to take steps to preserve the green belt around Harlington.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Mrs. Nadine Dorries, Official Report, 20 February 2008; Vol. 472, c. 486 .] [P000120]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government:

The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government is aware that a planning application has been submitted to South Bedfordshire District Council in respect of the above development. She is advised that the application was registered on 27th February.

The determination of planning applications is primarily the responsibility of the District Council as local planning authority, and the Secretary of State cannot comment on the merits or otherwise of any application, or prospective application.

Decisions on planning applications are required to be in accordance with the adopted development plan, unless material considerations indicate otherwise. The Government's statements of national planning policy, such as Planning Policy Guidance 2 "Green Belts", are material considerations which must be taken into account, where relevant, in planning decisions, but it is the responsibility of the local planning authority to identify and weigh up all the different issues, in the context of the specific local circumstances, having regard to the; views of local residents and other interested parties.

The Secretary of State may decide to call-in an application for her own determination where she considers that it raises issues of more than local importance, but her policy is to be very selective about this. As it is possible that the instant proposal may, at some future date come within her jurisdiction, it would be inappropriate to comment on the matter raised in the petition.

The Petition of the campaign for a sustainable Toddington,

Declares their opposition to proposals to destroy the green belt around Toddington by building a stadium and a large industrial/commercial development on land adjacent to Junction 12 of the M1. Luton Town Football Club and the Council should find a suitable urban site for a new stadium within the boundaries of Luton.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to take steps to preserve the green belt around Toddington.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Mrs. Nadine Dorries, Official Report, 20 February 2008; Vol. 472, c. 486 .] [P000123]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government:

The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government is aware that a planning application has been submitted to South Bedfordshire District Council in respect of the above development. She is advised that the application was registered on 27th February.

The determination of planning applications is primarily the responsibility of the District Council as local planning authority, and the Secretary of State cannot comment on the merits or otherwise of any application, or prospective application.

Decisions on planning applications are required to be in accordance with the adopted development plan, unless material considerations indicate otherwise. The Government's statements of national planning policy, such as Planning Policy Guidance 2 “Green Belts”, are material considerations which must be taken into account, where relevant, in planning decisions, but it is the responsibility of the local planning authority to identify and weigh up all the different issues, in the context of the specific local circumstances, having regard to the views of local residents and other interested parties.

The Secretary of State may decide to call-in an application for her own determination where she considers that it raises issues of more than local importance, but her policy is to be very selective about this. As it is possible that the instant proposal may, at some future date come within her jurisdiction, it would be inappropriate to comment on the matter raised in the petition.

Planning and Development (Reading)

The Petition of people from the greater Reading area,

Declares that the panel looking at the South East Plan were wrong to recommend development of 7500 houses north of the M4 at Reading; this area is in a functional floodplain; the Environment Agency have said that building in this area could result in floods in central Reading; the petitioners wish to see Kennet floodplain protected in line with existing planning policies.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Minister for Planning to delete Kennet Meadow as a development area from the Regional Plan.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.,—[Presented by Martin Salter, Official Report, 2 April 2008; Vol. 474, c. 890 .] [P000169]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government:

The Secretary of State acknowledges the concerns of the petitioners regarding the recommendations of the panel report into the south east plan in relation to a special development area south of Reading, referred to locally as Kennet Meadow.

As the process of producing the south east plan is bound by regulation and propriety guidance, which seeks to put all interested parties on an even footing, I am unable to discuss the merits of the panel’s report, or take any representations or comments on board at this stage. These propriety matters apply in particular to any comments related to particular localities or development proposals.

The position in respect of the south east plan is that Government are currently considering its response to the recommendations in the panel report. The next stage in the process is the publication, for public consultation, of the Government’s own proposed changes to the draft strategy. This will provide an opportunity for interested parties to make further representations. We are aiming to publish the proposed changes in the summer.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Climate Change

The Humble Petition of residents of Bristol,

Sheweth

That they bear witness to the threats of climate change, and believe that firm action is needed to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

Wherefore your Petitioners pray that your Honourable House appeals to Her Majesty's Government to bring forward an amendment to the Climate Change (Sectoral Targets) Bill, to introduce a target for the reduction of Carbon Dioxide emissions by at least 80% of the 1990 levels by 2050, to include in this target emissions from aviation and shipping, and to require intermediate annual targets for the reduction of emissions.

And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray, &c.—[Presented by Stephen Williams, Official Report, 19 March 2008; Vol. 473, c. 1049 .] [P000154]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs:

Thank you for your petition in which you ask the House of Commons to consider a number of points in relation to the Climate Change Bill. I have been asked to reply as DEFRA has policy responsibility for Climate Change.

With regards to the 2050 target, the government recognises the significant recent advances in scientific understanding since the 60% goal was included in the 2003 Energy White Paper, and set out as at least 60% CO2 reduction in the Bill. However, the Prime Minister stated, last November, that the independent Committee on Climate Change will be asked to review the 2050 target, and advise on whether it should be tightened up to 80%. There has been no comparable cross-cutting research and analysis since the Royal Commission report which recommended the 60% figure in 2000. The Government tabled an amendment to strengthen the Bill, that will make the 2050 target review a statutory duty. The Committee on Climate Change will report its findings by 1 December.

Domestic shipping, which accounts for over 40% of UK maritime bunker sales, is included already in the Climate Change Bill, as is domestic aviation. The Bill also allows for the inclusion of international shipping and aviation once there is a change in European or international law or practice. There is currently no international agreement on how to allocate emissions from international shipping or international aviation to individual countries: it is for this reason that emissions from international aviation and shipping are currently excluded from the national targets of all countries who currently have emissions reduction commitments under the Kyoto Protocol.

We are continuing to investigate all options for reducing emissions from international and domestic shipping, including improved technology and better operator practices. However, shipping is a global industry and so it is important that regulations are developed in the International Maritime Organization (IMO) on a global scale, as they must be enforced by flag States i.e. the countries under whose flags ships operate. Therefore, in the international arena we are working actively within the IMO to address greenhouse gas emissions and other atmospheric emissions from ships.

We are also taking action to tackle the climate change impacts of aviation. The UK has led the debate on the inclusion of aviation in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS). You may be aware that significant progress towards this objective was achieved in December last year when EU Ministers reached agreement at Environment Council to include the carbon emissions from flights arriving at and departing from the EU in 2012.

On the issue of annual targets in the Bill, there is already strong annual accountability through the requirement of annual reporting to Parliament on progress towards budgets and targets by the independent Committee on Climate Change—to which the Government must respond. The Government has rejected annual targets in favour of five-year carbon budgets for very good reasons: annual targets are simply too inflexible to take account of real life. Five-year periods offer the right balance between certainty and flexibility and are also consistent with international practice (e.g. under the Kyoto Protocol). For example, it would be impractical to manage annual targets for those businesses covered by EU ETS, which represent around half of the UK's CO2 emissions, as that system operates on five-year periods where trading freely within the period and across the EU is allowed to ensure operators meet their obligations. Nevertheless, in order to provide greater transparency over the Government's expectations, as part of the Government package of amendments tabled at Lords Report stage, a new requirement has been added to the Bill that following the setting of each carbon budget, the Secretary of State will also be obliged to set out in a report to Parliament annual indicative ranges for the net UK carbon account for each year within the budget period.