HC Deb 25 July 1979 vol 971 cc577-8
3. Mr. Dalyell

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has for funding objectors contesting major inquiries that involve complex land use and technological issues, involving controversial matters of national policy, especially where the proponent has close links to central Government.

The Secretary of State for the Environment (Mr. Michael Heseltine)

None at present.

Mr. Dalyell

Why not?

Mr. Heseltine

Having considered the arguments put to me, I have found no cause for changing my mind or changing the position adopted by the previous Government.

Mr. W. Benyon

Does my right hon. Friend appreciate that my constituents in North Bucks had to raise £70,000 to fight the third London airport inquiry in 1970? They are now faced with having to do exactly the same thing again. Is it not iniquitous that ordinary, decent, law-abiding people should be put in that position?

Mr. Heseltine

Occasionally these large and extremely important issues arise. Mr. Justice Parker has made several representations to me about the Wind-scale inquiry along the lines of those put to me by my hon. Friend. I am considering these matters, but at present I have not been able to introduce any changes.

Mr. Beith

Does the right hon. Gentleman think that it will be necessary to assist the local community in Northumberland to present its case when the Atomic Energy Authority appeals against Northumberland county council's refusal to allow test drilling for nuclear dumping in the Cheviots—or has he pre-judged that case by the statement that he made yesterday?

Mr. Heseltine

No. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman would not want to assume for a minute that there is any question of pre-judging an issue of such great importance. As he will know, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland has already announced planing inquiries in respect of equivalent activity in Scotland. The purpose of my announcement yesterday was merely to bring the investigations that we are conducting into line with practice already established in Scotland.

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