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Waste Management Licensing

Mr. Caton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) if he will extend the scope of the Waste Management (Licensing) Regulations so that judgment on fit and proper person status takes into account relevant convictions in other EU countries; [118780]

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Mr. Meacher: Offences which are taken into consideration in Great Britain when assessing "fit and proper person" status are those set out in regulation 3 of the Waste Management Licensing Regulations 1994 (S.I. 1994 No. 1056) (as amended). Convictions in other countries are not currently taken into consideration when assessing applicants' fit and proper person status for the purpose of these provisions and waste management licensing. However, we are considering whether the list of relevant offences should be extended to take into account convictions in other EU countries, although there is at present no EU-wide mechanism to support such a system.

The amendment of the 1994 Regulations in relation to Wales is a devolved function and would be a matter for the National Assembly for Wales.

Bull Bars

Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has to ban the use of bull bars on public roads. [120281]

Mr. Hill: As stated in our recently published Road Safety Strategy "Tomorrow's Roads--Safer for Everyone", we believe that the anticipated European Commission proposal to make all new car fronts safer would be the best way of preventing particularly dangerous bull bars being fitted to vehicles. We are currently awaiting the opportunity to examine the details of the Commission's draft proposal. We had expected this to be put forward in mid-March, and were disappointed when this proved not to be possible. We are now urging the Commission to bring forward their proposal at the earliest opportunity.

We are keen to see bull bars tackled as soon as possible, on an effective Europe-wide basis. We are therefore also submitting a scientific proposal to the Commission for bull bars to be controlled by an amendment to the external projections directive as an interim measure.

Disabled Access (Stations)

Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what percentage of (a) London Underground and (b) Railtrack stations have disabled access; what steps are being taken to increase the provision; and if he will make a statement. [120079]

Mr. Hill: 20 per cent. of London Underground stations have wheelchair access to at least one direction of travel on at least one line. It is anticipated that the number of tube stations with disabled access will increase to 45 per cent. through the PPP contracts.

22 per cent. of Railtrack stations have wheelchair access from the street. Railtrack has a strategy to make all stations fully accessible to the disabled within 20 years. Railtrack are awaiting the outcome of the Rail Regulator's periodic review of their access charges, which are due later this year, before finalising their programme of improvements.

Noise Pollution

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) if he will

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instruct the Highways Agency to prepare plans for noise pollution barriers on the section of the M62 adjoining to Bradley Wood, Huddersfield; [120129]

Mr. Hill: No. The Government set out their policy towards dealing with the problems of traffic noise arising from motorways and other roads managed by the Highways Agency in "A New Deal for Trunk Roads in England". We expect considerable benefits to be achieved by the increased use of quieter surfaces both for new trunk roads and for those needing maintenance. In addition, we have asked the Highways Agency to consider the case for providing noise mitigation in the worst cases where no other action was being taken to provide relief for residential properties. The Government are also supporting the implementation of a proposed EU Directive that will require vehicle tyres to meet noise emission limits.

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what arrangements he has made with the Highways Agency to increase sound pollution barriers when stretches of existing motorways are (a) upgraded and (b) modified. [120130]

Mr. Hill: The Highways Agency is required to assess the potential adverse effects on the environment of any modifications to existing motorways which involve physical alterations. With regard to noise, the effectiveness of any existing sound barriers will be taken into account and proposals for upgrading them or for alternative measures to be provided in conjunction with the alteration will be considered.

Open-cast Mining Sites (Scotland)

Mr. Welsh: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how often open-cast mining sites in Scotland were inspected by the Health and Safety Executive in the last three years; and what plans he has to increase the frequency of inspections in the coming year. [120791]

Mr. Meacher: Health and Safety Executive inspectors carry out routine preventative inspections of workplaces according to the hazards and risks of the workplace. With open-cast coal mines such inspections are normally made once per year. In addition an inspector may visit for other reasons, e.g. to investigate an accident or complaint.

As of 31 March 2000 there were 106 open-cast coal mines registered in Scotland of which 28 were operational. All the operational sites were inspected during 1999-2000. Over the last three years a total of 254 inspection contacts were recorded at open-cast sites in Scotland by inspectors. These included visits to non-operational sites to check their status.

HSE has no plans to change this inspection strategy.

Road Hauliers (Compensation)

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Morecambe and Lunesdale (Miss Smith), of 19 April 2000, Official Report, column 485W, if he will list those areas of sustained effort which required departmental and diplomatic activity in the

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settlement of claims by road hauliers affected by the 1996 dispute; and what total sums of claims (a) have been agreed and (b) were refused by the French Government. [120847]

Mr. Hill: Action included numerous meetings with the French Ministry of Transport and with the Interior Ministry, initially to clarify the scope of the French compensation code, the legal and administrative procedures for submitting claims and the basis on which claims should be prepared. Subsequent meetings dealt with the lack of consistency among Prefectures in the application of the rules; their application in particular circumstances, including in respect of lorries that were blocked in more than one Departement and those that were prevented from entering France; the delay in processing claims and the revised arrangements introduced to speed up the process. The trade associations were also represented at some of the meetings.

Officials also spent a great deal of time giving guidance to claimants and assisting them in lodging claims. However, claimants are under no obligation to inform the Department of the outcome of their cases. We are therefore unable to provide information about amounts of compensation paid and refused.

Speed Limits

Mrs. Brinton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has to allow the erection of signs in home zone areas instructing drivers to drive at very slow speeds. [120984]

Mr. Hill: Local traffic authorities have the powers to introduce 20mph speed limits and associated signing without seeking consent from the Secretary of State. For the pilot home zones in England, we will consider authorising the use of advisory 10mph maximum speed signs. This will depend on the effectiveness of engineering measures or 20mph speed limits in reducing vehicle speeds.

Croydon Tramlink

Mr. Ottaway: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when his Department last assessed the level of passenger demand for the Croydon Tramlink. [120841]

Mr. Hill: The Department assessed levels of passenger demand for Croydon Tramlink prior to the Concession Agreement being signed in 1996. In line with the PFI nature of the project, assessment of passenger demand for Tramlink is now a matter for the concessionaire Tramtrack Croydon Ltd. (TCL). I understand that in April this year TCL estimated that Croydon Tramlink will carry more than 20 million passengers a year.

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