Previous Section Index Home Page


Aviation Safety

Mr. Woolas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when he intends to publish the Government's reply to the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Committee's report into aviation safety published on 21 July. [101123]

Mr. Mullin: The Government have laid before the House today a Command Paper--4539--which is a consolidated response on behalf of the Government and of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Committee's Fourteenth Report, titled "Aviation Safety", published on 21 July 1999.

30 Nov 1999 : Column: 133W

The Government welcome the "Aviation Safety" report, which covered a wide-ranging and detailed examination of aviation safety issues by the Committee. We note that the evidence the Committee received showed that the United Kingdom has an excellent safety record, particularly in the commercial aviation sector. The Committee seeks reassurance that all necessary steps are being taken to maintain that record in the face of the challenges presented by a dynamic and growing industry, in which the UK is a world leader. The Government and the CAA agree that the current high standard of aviation safety in the United Kingdom must be maintained and, where possible, improved. We fully recognise that aviation safety requires constant vigilance by regulators and the regulated alike.

The Committee makes 29 recommendations, some to the Government, some to the CAA, and others to both. Both we and the CAA have considered the recommendations fully and carefully and they are dealt with in turn, and in detail, in the Command Paper.

Telecommunications Masts

Mr. Crausby: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has to review the current legislation relating to telecommunications masts. [99311]

Ms Beverley Hughes [holding answer 23 November 1999]: The installation of any telecommunications mast in a National Park, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, a conservation area, a Site of Special Scientific Interest and the Broads, or a mast of more than 15 metres in height elsewhere, is subject to a full planning application. In other cases, licensed telecommunications code system operators are authorised under Part 24 of Schedule 2 to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 (GPDO) to install masts of up to 15 metres in height. This is subject to a prior approval procedure, under which the local planning authority has the opportunity to say whether it wishes to approve details of the siting and appearance of the installation.

These GPDO provisions were amended earlier this year by SI 1999 No. 1661. We have no current plans to make further changes to the GPDO in respect of telecommunication masts.

The Government are aware of public concern about mobile phone systems and health and has set up an independent expert group to advise on possible risks to public health. The group, chaired by Sir William Stewart FRS, FRSE, is currently holding open meetings around the UK to take views.

Dry Stone Walls

Helen Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) what proposals he has to protect dry stone walls in areas of outstanding natural beauty and conservation; and if he will make a statement; [99531]

30 Nov 1999 : Column: 134W

Mr. Mullin: This information is not available. However, the Countryside Survey 1990 estimated that the total length of dry stone walls in upland areas of Great Britain in 1990 was 99,710 km, which represented a reduction in length of 13 per cent. since 1984.

The most appropriate way of tackling the loss of dry stone walls is by encouraging their restoration and maintenance. Grants are currently available in England under the Countryside Stewardship and Environmentally Sensitive Areas schemes operated by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. Before taking decisions on any legislative protection, we shall need to take account of the possible impact of any regulatory proposals, as well as the results of the Countryside Survey 2000, which will provide up-to-date estimates of the changes in length and condition of dry stone walls.

Helen Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what recent discussions he has had with (a) the Peak District and (b) the North Yorkshire national parks about the destruction of dry stone walls. [99532]

Mr. Mullin: The destruction of dry stone walls has not been raised in recent discussions held with the Peak District or North Yorkshire national parks.

GM Oilseed Rape (Royston)

Joan Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when genetically modified winter oilseed rape was planted at Summerhouse Farm, Royston, Hertfordshire, under consent 98/R19/18; and if he will publish the opinion of the farm-scale evaluations scientific steering committee on the relevance of the planting to biodiversity. [99537]

Mr. Mullin: The genetically modified winter oilseed rape planted at Summerhouse Farm, Royston, Hertfordshire, under consent 98/R19/18, was planted between 19 August and 14 September 1999. The trial is for research and development purposes by the consent holder AgrEvo and consists of a number of small field plots each approximately 20 square metres. It is not a field scale release and is not subject to any consideration by the farm-scale evaluations scientific steering committee.

Post Offices

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will list the principal activities of his Department and its agencies which provide business for (a) Crown post offices and (b) other post offices; if he will assess whether the level of business generated in each case is likely to increase or decrease over the next five years; and which new areas of business for post offices are likely to be developed by his Department and its agencies over the same period. [99558]

Ms Beverley Hughes: The information is as follows:





30 Nov 1999 : Column: 135W


    Vehicle Inspectorate


    The Inspectorate, through the DVLA contract, uses the post office network for relicensing vehicles by checking the validity of MOT certificates. The Inspectorate is developing an MOT computerisation project and is exploring ways in which the post office can support the project. This may reduce the level of special deliveries made by the post office on behalf of the Inspectorate.

Ward Boundaries

Mr. Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what criteria the Local Government Boundary Commission must follow in the creation of local authority ward boundaries. [99762]

Ms Beverley Hughes: The Local Government Commission's statutory criteria for electoral reviews are to secure effective and convenient local government and to reflect the interests and identities of local communities. They must also take into account statutory rules which include that the number of local government electors shall be, as nearly as may be, the same in every ward of the district; that every ward of a parish with a parish council shall lie wholly within a single ward of the district; and have regard to the desirability of fixing boundaries which are and will remain easily identifiable.

Red Routes

Mr. Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has to extend priority red routes (a) in London and (b) to other cities. [100070]

Mr. Hill: There are no plans to extend red routes in London. From July 2000, the red route network will be replaced by the GLA road network and will become the responsibility of the Mayor. Elsewhere, it is primarily for local authorities to use their existing traffic management powers to control parking effectively and give appropriate priority to buses. We look to them to so do, in the context of developing their local transport plans and bus strategies.

Mr. Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) what assessment he has made of the effect of priority red routes in London on carbon dioxide emissions; [100069]

Mr. Hill: The Traffic Director for London monitors the effects of the traffic management measures on the red route network (the network) as a whole (not individually

30 Nov 1999 : Column: 136W

by borough) to determine the performance of the network. Reports on these are published annually. His latest report shows:



    (b)(i) depending on time of day, average journey speeds on the network were between 17.0 and 22.9 mph in 1998. This is a considerable improvement on the journey speeds of between 14.3 and 18.4 mph in 1994 before red route implementation commenced;


    (b)(ii) The Traffic Director does not monitor journey speeds off the network.


The Traffic Director for London maintains a record of traffic conditions on red routes from which it is possible to gain a better understanding of the changes in emissions from road vehicles. He does not directly monitor air quality but uses the collected data to model emissions. Between 1995-97 the model shows between 3 per cent. and 5 per cent. less carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons emissions on implemented sections of the red route compared with non-implemented sections.

According to the model used by the Traffic Director for London between 1995-97, emissions of carbon dioxide on the network were approximately 2 per cent. less where red route measures had been implemented in comparison with those sections of the network that had not yet been implemented.

The Traffic Director for London monitors accidents at the end of each year. His current data on accidents show that the number of personal injury accidents on the network has reduced by 8.8 per cent. compared with a 0.5 per cent. reduction on other roads in London.


Next Section Index Home Page