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Air Quality (London)

Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what assessment he has made of the air quality in London in relation to that of other EU capitals; and if he will make a statement. [3664]

Ms Angela Eagle: The Department in co-operation with local authorities, currently monitors air quality at 24 automatic, and over 100 non-automatic stations in Greater London. A variety of pollutants are monitored at these sites including nitrogen dioxide, ozone, sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide, fine particles (PM10), hydrocarbons and lead. Levels of these pollutants, in London and other UK cities, together with exceedences of air quality standards and guidelines, are presented in the Department's 18th Edition of the Digest of Environmental Protection and Water Statistics. A copy of the Digest is available in the House of Commons Library. The 19th edition of the Digest, containing information on air quality during 1995 will be published in July.

Information on levels of pollution in major cities elsewhere in the European Union is not held centrally. A European Topic Centre on air quality has been established by the European Environment Agency to improve the availability and comparability of information on air quality at the European level, including urban air quality, and to report on key issues on a regular basis. The Agency is expected to publish a report entitled "Air Pollution in Europe in 1997" during the summer.


Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if information on hedgerow removal notices being held on public registers by local planning authorities will be co-ordinated centrally and published on a regular basis. [4161]

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Ms Angela Eagle: My officials are consulting representatives of local government about the collection of information on hedgerow removal notices. Decisions will be taken in the light of the consultation.

Cement Manufacture

Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when the Government plans to issue its response to the House Environment Select Committee's third report of the 1996-97 session, on the environmental impact of cement manufacture. [4830]

Mr. Meacher: The Government's response to the Environment Committee's Report has been issued today and copies have been placed in the Library. The response addresses the Committee's conclusions and recommendations relating to Government policy on pollution control, planning, waste management and health issues. It also comments on the Committee's criticism of the Environment Agency. The Environment Agency has issued its own response, which covers the majority of the Committee's recommendations, since these concern the Agency's enforcement role.

The Government has welcomed the Select Committee's careful consideration of this issue and sees the report as a very valuable contribution to public debate, not only on this important subject, but also on broader issues of environmental protection. The Government's response affirms its commitment to regulation industry to prevent harm to human health and minimise impacts on the environment as a whole. The Committee has made a number of trenchant criticisms of the Environment Agency's regulation of the cement industry. In particular it found inadequacies in the Agency's public consultation procedures, lack of consistency in application of environmental standards and deficiencies in the regulation of Castle Cement's Clitheroe works. The Government is deeply concerned that the Committee should have felt it necessary to make such criticisms. The Environment Agency has accepted the Committee's criticism and responded to it positively, with an extensive plan of action designed to bring about better public consultation, improve research and guidance and contribute to further studies of the health effects of pollutants.

I have made clear in discussions with the Agency that the Government expects it to be a fair and rigorous regulator in all its dealings with industry. It must set appropriate standards which fully protect public health and the environment, and then enforce them firmly. The Agency's management has assured me that it is committed to the changes which are needed to ensure that industrial pollution is controlled in a manner which will command the full confidence of Parliament and the public. I can assure Members of this House that I intend to hold the Agency to that promise.

Carbon Dioxide Emissions

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if the current United Kingdom target of 20 per cent. reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2010 is dependent on other EU countries meeting their targets; and if he will make a statement. [3209]

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Mr. Meacher: The Government has set itself a challenging domestic target to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 20 per cent. from 1990 levels by 2010 and we are currently looking at the policy options which could contribute towards that target.

Backed by our target, we shall press for an agreement at the Kyoto Climate Change Conference which sees challenging targets for all developed countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions beyond 2000. However, we do not propose to take on a higher, legally-binding target under the Climate Change Convention so that other EU Countries can have lower targets.

Channel Tunnel Safety Authority

Mr. Caplin: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when he expects the channel tunnel Safety Authority to publish its annual report for the year 1995-96. [4574]

Ms Glenda Jackson: The Channel Tunnel Safety Authority has today published its eighth Annual Report, covering the period from 1 April 1995 to 31 March 1996. Copies of the Report have been placed in the Library.

Traffic and Pollution (London)

Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) what plans he has to reduce traffic (a) levels and (b) pollution in London; and if he will make a statement; [3666]

Ms Glenda Jackson: The Government announced earlier this month that it was launching a fundamental review of the actions required to deliver an integrated transport policy which meets the environmental and transport needs of all regions of the country, including London. The need to address the problems caused by increasing traffic levels and opportunities to encourage the use of public transport will be central to this work. Ministers have already met representatives of a wide range of bodies with an interest in transport issues, including environmental organisations, and will continue to do so throughout the course of the review.

Driving Licence Holders

Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many and what percentage of eligible (a) men and (b) women hold a current full driving licence, in each 10 year age band; and if he will make a statement. [3661]

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Ms Glenda Jackson: The number of male and female full driving licence holders by 10 year age band is as follows:

Total18,550,189 (85.3 per cent. of total adult male population of 21,572,667)13,455,824 (57.9 per cent. of total adult female population of 23,004,762)32,006,013 (70.4 per cent. of total adult population of 44,576,429)

Some of the population are ineligible to apply for a driving licence on medical grounds. Figures for the total number of men and women eligible to apply for a driving licence are not available and a percentage comparison between those who hold and those who are eligible to apply for a driving licence could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

Nuclear Waste Transport

Mr. Dafis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) what is the Government's policy towards the transport of radioactive nuclear waste by air; [3851]

Ms Glenda Jackson: The transport of all radioactive material by air is governed by The Air Navigation (Dangerous Goods) Regulations 1994 SI No. 3187, as amended by The Air Navigation (Dangerous Goods) (Amendment) Regulations 1996 SI No. 3100. As a Contracting State to the Convention an International Civil Aviation, the UK is obliged, under Annex 18, to ensure compliance with the latest edition of the Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air, published biennially by the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

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