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Guidance on Costs and Benefits

Part of New clause 3 – in the House of Commons at 5:30 pm on 27th June 1995.

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Photo of Paddy Tipping Paddy Tipping , Sherwood 5:30 pm, 27th June 1995

Since we discussed the issue in Committee, I have received a document called "Plan It" which was produced by the Nottingham Youth Environmental Forum 1994. It is subtitled "The Essential Guide to Saving the Planet", and a third heading reads "Saving the World Starts Here". It was launched last month by a group of young people in Nottinghamshire, and I commend it to the Minister because it goes to the very heart of the matter.

The young people in question focused on real examples, such as the cost of a new road and how that road affects the environment. They focused on the cost of protecting an important wildlife site and have borne in mind the need to balance costs and benefits and the need to balance accountancy costs with the desire to save the planet. It is easy to account for the cost of a new road in financial terms but, as the hon. Member for Lincoln (Sir K. Carlisle) pointed out, it is much more difficult to put a cost on the destruction of ancient woodland.

I know that the Government are aware of the matter, but my anxiety is caused by the fact that the discussion has only just started. We are in the very early days of saving the planet and balancing the important arguments. I know that the Minister has issued guidance but I do not feel that he has taken the debate much further.

We need to examine closely new techniques about the cost and value of lifting the landscape and environmental improvement. They are key issues, ones on which the young people of Nottinghamshire have focused. Again, I commend their document to the Minister because it goes right to the heart of the matter. As it is "The Essential Guide to Saving the Planet", I have no hesitation in sending it to him and asking him to consider the views set out in it.