§ The Minister of State, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (Lord Rooker)
My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
The North-West Regional Assembly (NWRA) published, on 19 April, a consultative draft of the partial review of regional planning guidance for the north-west (RPG13) which was published by my right honourable friend the Deputy Prime Minister in March 2003.
RPG 13 sets out the spatial development strategy that encompasses proposals for the development of the region's economy, housing and transport infrastructure, and other land uses. It also sets out proposals for the conservation, management and enhancement of the region's natural and cultural environment.
Regional planning guidance also provides the regional framework for the plans and strategies of a range of public, private and voluntary organisations, including the preparation of local authority development plans and local transport plans.
The consultation will also allow consideration of the implications of the northern way growth work being led by the regional development agencies.12WS
The selective, partial, review covers a number of key matters of importance to the future of the region, including:
- Transport—the regional transport strategy is updated in the light of a number of major studies in the region and consultations on national aviation policy. The review also includes transport investment priorities, the management of the regional highway network, a regional freight strategy and criteria to ensure that new developments are accessible by public transport;
- Sustainable energy—targets are put in place that should help to increase the amount of energy supplied from renewable resources;
- Waste management—a new approach to handling waste is set out that will encourage recycling and composting, and reduce landfill;
- Climate change—a new policy on climate change is introduced that will aim to meet greenhouse gas reduction targets and allow planning for the implications of climate change;
- Strategic regional parks—three broad areas of search for strategic regional parks are identified based on the north-west coast, the Mersey belt and east Lancashire;and
- Strategic views along the River Mersey—a policy to protect and enhance selected views for different parts of the Mersey valley is put forward.
The draft partial review is published for consultation with all regional stakeholders over a period of 12 weeks. An independent panel will take into account all responses to the consultation before it holds a public examination in November, where it will consider the issues arising from the consultation. The panel will produce a report for the First Secretary of State, who will then publish the final version of the RPG following further consultation, in 2005.
Copies of the relevant documents are available in the Libraries of the House and have been provided for all of the region's MPs, MEPs and local authorities.