HL Deb 19 December 1991 vol 533 cc86-7WA
Lord Clinton-Davis

asked Her Majesty's Government:

In respect of the letter recently sent to them by the Commission of the European Communities under Article 169 of the Treaty,

  1. (a) when the Commission first informed them that they had concluded that the United Kingdom was in breach of the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive in respect of each of the seven cases to which the letter referred;
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  3. (b) what is the basis of their assertion that the letter took them by surprise;
  4. (c) whether they propose to inform the House of the substance of their reply to the letter;
  5. (d) when they propose to reply to the letter; and
  6. (e) whether, in view of the uncertainty caused for developers, residents, environmental groups and others by actions taken by the Commission to enforce Community environ mental law, they will review their refusal to publish the terms of such letters and their replies.

The Minister of State, Department of the Environment (Baroness Blatch)

The Commission first informed Her Majesty's Government the reasons for their conclusions in respect of these seven cases in the Article 169 letter which was received on 17th October 1991. Each of the cases had, during the preceding two years, been the subject of a "pre-Article 169" letter of inquiry, to which Her Majesty's Government replied in each case setting out the reasons why it was considered that the directive did not apply or had been complied with. In none of these cases did the Commission seek further detailed discussion of the points made in those replies before coming to the conclusions set out in the letter of 17th October. Her Majesty's Government replied to that letter on 17th December 1991, within the two months period requested by the Commission. Correspondence between Member States and the Commission is conducted in confidence and the United Kingdom will continue to respect this convention.