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Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 23 April 1998


Waste Disposal

Sir Alastair Goodlad: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what volume of non-inert waste was disposed of by each local authority in the North West in each of the last three years; and what estimate he has made of the volumes to be disposed of in 1998-99. [38469]

Angela Eagle: The following figures represent Environment Agency site return data for all non-inert waste in tonnes disposed of to landfill within each waste disposal authority in the north west region over the last three years.

Greater Manchester9271,247n/a1,100

(1) Available June 1998

(2) Estimates

The estimate has been made by the Environment Agency on the basis of a 2% growth in the number of households.

Traffic Noise (A13)

Mr. Fitzpatrick: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) what plans he has to protect residents in the Canning Town area from increased noise pollution as a result of changes to the A13; [39262]

Ms Glenda Jackson: I have asked the Chief Executive of the Highways Agency, Mr. Lawrie Haynes, to write to my hon. Friend.

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Letter from Lawrie Haynes to Mr. Jim Fitzpatrick, dated 23 April 1998:

    No financial limit has been set for providing traffic noise insulation to homes in the area. Offers of noise insulation will be made to all occupiers of dwellings that qualify in accordance with the Noise Insulation Regulations.

    We have estimated that up to 650 dwellings will qualify and a list will be published in due course.

    Noise levels immediately adjacent to the scheme have been calculated to increase by between 1 and 4 db(A) in 2011 as a result of increased traffic flows and speeds.

    However, to mitigate the effects, we are planning to put barriers alongside the new carriageways. 2 metre high barriers, 700 metres long are proposed on the new bridges over the River Lea and the Canning Town Flyover, and a 3 metre high screen, 160 metres long will be provided on the new road adjacent to Portree Street, to protect properties there. The benefits of these barriers for individual properties would depend on the type of property and its location.

Contaminated Land

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what progress his Department has made in respect of the publication of technical guidance arising out of provisions of the Environment Act 1995 relating to contaminated land. [39354]

Angela Eagle: Various technical reports are being prepared which will be relevant in the operation of local authorities' planning and building regulation functions, as well as in their future operation of the regulatory regime for contaminated land under the Environment Act 1995. These reports cover issues including guideline values for the assessment of the potential threats to human health posed by contaminants and model procedures for the management of contaminated land, from identification of the problem through the selection of the remediation option to assurance that the problem has been successfully dealt with. The Department expects these reports to be ready for publication in the autumn.

Driving Standards Agency

Mr. Leslie: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what targets he has set for the Driving Standards Agency. [39489]

Ms Glenda Jackson: The key targets for the Driving Standards Agency are set out in its Business Plan, which include management objectives, performance indicators and key tasks. Copies of the Business Plan have been placed in the Library. The key targets are as follows:

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    increase the weighted average of fees by no more than RPI in each of the three years during the period 1 April 1997 to 1 April 2000 and by no more than RPI minus 1% in each of the following two years;

    achieve a national average waiting time for car practical tests not exceeding 6 weeks and make appointments available within 10 weeks at 99% of permanent test centres;

    aim to keep 99.5% of all practical test appointments which are in place 2 days prior to the appointment date;

    answer practical test booking office telephones so that:

    4 and 5 calls will be answered on their first dialling attempt;

    90% of calls will be answered by a human voice within 30 seconds after completion of handling by the automatic answering system; and

    an average of no more than 4% of calls in the queue will be abandoned before being answered;

    ensure 95% of theory test candidates obtain a test booking at their preferred test centre and test session within 2 weeks of their preferred date; and

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    ensure theory test booking office telephones are answered so that:

    incoming lines will not be engaged for more than 30 minutes in any week; and 95% of calls received will be answered by a human voice within 10 seconds after completion of handling by the automatic answering system.

Fire Deaths

Kate Hoey: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) how many deaths were caused by fires in buildings in (a) 1995 and (b) 1996; [39294]

Mr. George Howarth: I have been asked to reply.

The readily available information is given in the table.

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Fatal casualties from fires in buildings, by cause of death, 1995 and 1996
United Kingdom Number(3)

YearTotalBurnsOvercome by gas or smokeBurns and overcome by gas or smokePhysical injuriesShock onlyPrecautionary check upOther specifiedUnspecified
All buildings

(3) Includes additional "late" call and heat and smoke damage incidents.

(4) The figures for 1996 are likely to be revised downwards closer to those for 1995 as later information becomes available.

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Mrs. Dean: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if she will make a statement on the progressive lifting of the broadcast entertainment restrictions affecting BT and other public telecommunications operators; and if she will make a statement. [39839]

Mrs. Beckett: The Government have considered the options for fulfilling their commitment carefully, and I am today publishing our conclusions. A copy of the document setting out the Government's approach has been placed in the Library of the House. In summary, we have concluded that:

We are following through on our commitment. We need to remove the uncertainty, created by the previous Government, over when and how the restrictions they placed on BT and other PTOs might be lifted. It has become increasingly damaging for all operators--including cable. All operators need greater certainty and clarity about the regulatory position as they plan long-term investments for advanced digital services.

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We want to restore confidence for all market players and enable the benefits of new technologies to be delivered throughout the country.

We want to encourage competition which will drive down prices, enhance innovation and encourage private sector investment--to the benefit of the consumer--in all areas of the market; in services and in networks. A competitive market in network provision will underpin sustainable competition in services for the long term.

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