HC Deb 06 December 1978 vol 959 cc1415-6
19. Mr. Flannery

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he has received any further applications from foreign companies for quarrying in the Peak national park.

Mr. Denis Howell

There are no such applications before my right hon. Friend. Applications for planning permission would be made to the Peak park joint planning board in the first instance.

Mr. Flannery

Does my right hon. Friend accept from me that my motive in asking the Question was to try to ensure that people in the Peak park have adequate employment without this at the same time involving the destruction of the surpassing beauty of this area? Will he further accept from me that the scars being left within the park are horrific and far more massive than the average person understands? Will he ensure that there are clauses in any of these contracts to ensure that the ground is set right after the profits and the materials have been taken out? This is absolutely necessary as, for instance, the great area on the periphery, extending for miles between Buxton and Bakewell, looks like the mountains of the moon, frankly—and they are almost as big.

Mr. Howell

I entirely agree with those considerations. My hon. Friend's opening comments very properly showed the balance which Ministers and planning boards must hold. In this respect I am sure that my hon. Friend will be as delighted as the Government are with the new agreement reached between the board and Dresser Minerals, under which that company has entered into a full bond guaranteeing absolute restoration of the 10 acres to be mined. We regard that development, upon which we have congratulated the planning board, as a very significant step in the direction in which we and my hon. Friend wish to go.

Mr. Budgen

Will the Minister reject the mercantilism and xenophobia of the Question by the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery), in which he refers to foreign companies only? Will he assert that the Government are in favour of both inward and outward investment and that considerations will be equally applied to both foreign and domestic companies?

Mr. Howell

We apply the planning laws impartially between all applicants.

Mr. Budgen

That is right.

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