HC Deb 20 October 1999 vol 336 cc590-1W
Mr. Sawford

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when he will publish the Code of Practice on the Dissemination of Information during Major Infrastructure Developments; and if he will make a statement. [95071]

Mr. Raynsford

I have today published the Code of Practice and placed copies in the Library. The purpose of the code is to ensure that people are given as much information as possible at all stages of a development. It does, however, recognise that there may be exceptional circumstances where non-disclosure is justifiable, such as when issues of commercial confidentiality arise.

The provision of a referee who can be approached by members of the public, if they believe that information, which should be forthcoming under the code, has not been provided, is a new element in the code.

A key aspect of our proposals for modernising the planning system is to improve the handling of major infrastructure developments. The new code on the dissemination of information links the planning and implementation phases of such developments.

We are currently analysing the responses to our consultation paper on proposals for streamlining the planning approval procedures for major developments. We are also conducting a fundamental review to improve the system of compulsory purchase and compensation, which are often important aspects of major development implementation.

All Government Departments in England and their Agencies will follow the code. The Scottish Executive and the Welsh Assembly will be making their own arrangements. The code is also commended to local authorities and private sector developers who may be promoting major infrastructure developments.