HC Deb 19 December 1995 vol 268 c1334
6. Mr. Rowe

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has to meet the Secretary of State for Transport to discuss safeguarding the area of outstanding natural beauty of the north downs. [4880]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment (Sir Paul Beresford)

My right hon. Friend has no immediate plans to do so. However, officials from our two Departments work closely together, particularly within the Government office for the south-east.

Mr. Rowe

Is my hon. Friend aware that in the area of outstanding natural beauty of the north downs there is a motorway construction site which is surplus to Department of Transport requirements? If Government rules prevent the Department from allowing Maidstone borough council to use that site for park and ride, there is a serious risk that it will be sold and, eventually, planning permission sought for a use totally inappropriate to an area of outstanding natural beauty. It will be his Department that will have to make that decision. Will he give an undertaking to discuss this difficult situation with the Department of Transport before it becomes very much more difficult to resolve?

Sir Paul Beresford

As my hon. Friend is aware, I do not know the details of this matter. If they are as he describes, I would have thought that there would be some enormous planning hurdles to be overcome before planning permission could be given. Of course, if he is concerned, we will certainly discuss and look into the matter.