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Pesticide Tax

Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what assessment he has made of the (a) environmental benefits and (b) costs to rural businesses of a pesticide tax. [63450]

Mr. Meale: The Department has commissioned extensive research work on the feasibility of an economic instrument to assist in delivering the Government's pesticide minimisation policy. This has included assessment of the potential environmental benefits of such an instrument, of the impacts on and costs to relevant agricultural sectors and on the manufacturers and distributors of pesticides.

Greater London Authority Bill

Mr. Ottaway: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when he intends to publish the explanatory notes to the Greater London Authority Bill. [63305]

Mr. Raynsford: Copies of the Explanatory note were published today.

Sea Stores, Yate

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what current use is made of the sea stores property at Yate, owned by the Property Services Agency; and what plans he has for its future use. [63256]

Ms Glenda Jackson: This property is in fact owned by the Highways Agency. I have asked the Chief Executive of the Highways Agency, Mr. Lawrie Haynes, to write to the hon. Member.

Letter from H. Parker-Brown to Mr. Steve Webb, dated 10 December 1998:

    The stores are owned by the Highways Agency and are used to store mainly electrical equipment needed for the National Motorway Communications Network. There are no plans to change this use.

UK Safety Oversight System

Mr. Quinn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when he expects to announce the results of the audit of the UK safety oversight system carried out by the International Civil Aviation Safety Organisation in April 1998; and if he will make a statement. [63665]

Ms Glenda Jackson: The United Kingdom was one of the leading nations in pressing the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to set up, in 1995, a

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programme of voluntary safety assessments of its member states. The objective of this programme was to seek to ensure that ICAO Contracting States are adequately discharging their responsibilities for safety oversight in certain specific areas: aircraft operations, the licensing and training of personnel and aircraft airworthiness.

This Government took the initiative in December 1997--the first major aviation state to do so--of asking ICAO to assess the UK safety oversight system. The audit took place from 14-24 April, this year, and focused to a large extent on the role of the Civil Aviation Authority. The final Report, which was agreed with ICAO on 30 October, finds that the

There are 28 recommendations, relatively few compared with audits of other, smaller authorities, and none questions the performance of the Authority's fundamental safety work. The Government have accepted all but two of the recommendations, which could not have been met within the current legislative structure. We have agreed an Action Plan, drawn up by the CAA, to meet the recommendations; the Plan is included in the Report.

We have also been firm advocates of the need to make the results of ICAO audits more transparent and widely available to the international aviation community and to the public at large. Today, we are happy to make the full ICAO report available on the Internet at the DETR web-site. Printed copies have been placed in the House Libraries.

The UK is one of the leaders in safety oversight, with an excellent reputation world wide. But aviation safety needs constant vigilance; that is why both the Government and the Authority were keen to open its doors to ICAO. The Government welcome the audit results and the CAA's positive response, and will be following closely the implementation of the Action Plan. I am confident that the CAA, and the UK aviation industry as a whole, has benefited from this audit.

Roads Review

Mr. Fitzpatrick: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement on progress since the Roads Review on the Targeted Programme of Improvements and the programme studies. [63666]

Ms Glenda Jackson: My noble Friend the Minister for Roads and Road Safety announced today that we are able to provide further details of the construction programme for the schemes included in our Targeted Programme of Improvements listed in A New Deal for Trunk Roads in England.

As previously stated by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport, on 31 July 1998, Official Report, columns 653-75, all the schemes listed in the TPI will definitely start within the next seven years, subject only to the completion of any outstanding statutory procedures.

For those schemes where all the statutory procedures have been completed, the following are the planned start of works dates. Final confirmation of individual start dates within each year will be subject to the satisfactory completion of the necessary contract process.

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We propose to take forward the following five schemes under Design, Build, Finance and Operate (DBFO) contracts. These provide bidders with the flexibility to decide their own start dates as a means of producing better value for money. In line with our new objectives for Trunk Roads the proposed payment mechanisms for these schemes will incentivise efficient road operation and will include rewarding improved safety and good service to buses and lorries. We will further keep under review the scope for additional public private partnerships to implement the TPI.

The DBFO Schemes are:


    A1(M): Ferrybridge to Hook Moor

    A1(M): Wetherby to Walshford.

The following three schemes, which we propose taking forward under DBFO contracts, are still subject to statutory procedures. The next statutory procedures for these schemes, together with the planned dates, are:

    A249: Iwade-Queenborough Improvement (Public Inquiry)


    A2: Bean-Cobham Widening Phase 2 (Public Consultation)

    A2: A2/A282 Dartford Improvement (Order Publication).

I am not yet in a position to announce the final start of works dates for the remaining schemes listed in the TPI. I am however able to announce the next statutory procedure for the remaining schemes where applicable.

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At the same time as the TPI was published, a further seven schemes were listed which were not sufficiently advanced to be considered for the TPI but which are to be progressed through their statutory procedures and, if endorsed as a result of the Regional Planning Guidance procedure process, will be taken forward without delay, subject only to the availability of funds. They are, with dates of the next statutory procedure:


    A30: Bodmin-Indian Queens Improvement (Public Consultation)


    A11: Attleborough Bypass (Public Consultation)

    A11: Fiveways-Thetford Improvement (Public Consultation)

    A63: Melton Grade Separated Junction (Order Publication)


    A45/A46: Tollbar End Improvement (Public Consultation)

    A57/A628: Mottram-Tintwistle Bypass (Order Publication)

    A66: Temple Sowerby Bypass and Improvement at Winderwath (Order Publication).

In A New Deal for Trunk Roads in England we also proposed a programme of studies to address the most urgent problems on the Trunk Road Network not addressed by schemes in the TPI. My Department is today beginning a consultation exercise with Regional Planning Bodies to agree the study programme and to seek views in particular on the timing of the studies. The provisional programme of studies is as follows:

    Work to begin in spring 1999.

    Tranche two multi-modal studies: Cambridge to Huntingdon, A453 (M1-Nottingham); Southampton to Folkestone; Hull; London to South Midlands; West Midlands to Nottingham; London to Reading.

    The start date for these studies will depend on the progress of tranche one studies in each region.

    Roads-based studies: A1 Bramham to Barton; Norwich to Great Yarmouth; A5 Shrewsbury to Welsh Border; A38 Derby Junctions; M1 Junction 19; A3 Hindhead; Deeside Park Junctions; M40/A46 Longbridge roundabout; A419 Blunsdon; A66 Safety study.

    We intend to begin these within the next two years.

A copy of the consultation document will be placed in the Library.

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