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Road Traffic (Pollution)

Mr. Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) at what level, compared to 1990, road traffic levels would have to be kept to ensure air quality targets for 2010 are met; [100468]

Mr. Hill: No estimate has been made of the level of traffic in 2010 which would be consistent with road traffic emissions in that year being 20 per cent. below the 1990 level. Such an estimate would depend on the assumptions made in respect of a number of other factors, including the fuel efficiency of the vehicle fleet, the mix of traffic between vehicle types, and the speeds at which traffic moved. This means that there will be a range of 2010 traffic totals which would be consistent with any given level of road traffic CO 2 emissions.

Similar arguments apply to emissions of relevance to the National Air Quality Strategy, although here such an assessment would also need to take into account both significant variations in air quality at the local level, and emissions from non-transport sources, which can be just as important in addressing air quality objectives.

Motorised vehicle traffic on English roads in 1990 is estimated to have been some 353 billion vehicle kilometres. Revised assessments of future traffic levels,

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taking into account the potential impact of the Integrated Transport White Paper, are being prepared to inform the Government's first report under the Road Traffic Reduction (National Targets) Act 1998, which will be published shortly.

Mr. Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how he plans to assess the impact of road traffic in relation to (a) the emission of gases which contribute to climate change, (b) air quality, (c) health, (d) traffic congestion, (e) land and biodiversity, (f) danger to other road users and (g) society in accordance with the requirements of the Road Traffic Reduction (National Targets) Act 1998. [100466]

Mr. Hill: The Government will shortly be publishing their first report under the Road Traffic Reduction (National Targets) Act 1998 on the issue of whether to set a national road traffic reduction target. In preparation for that report, we are assessing how our policies can reduce each of these adverse impacts of road traffic.

Water Industry

Mr. Caton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has to increase competition in the water industry. [100439]

Mr. Mullin: As my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer said in his pre-Budget report on 9 November 1999, Official Report, columns 883-906, the Government are carrying out a comprehensive review of competition in the water industry and aim to publish a consultation document on options for reform early in the new year.

Mr. Caton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what assessment he has made of the impact of outsourcing activities previously performed directly by water companies on quality and service standards. [100457]

Mr. Mullin: The Director General of Water Services publishes an annual "Report on levels of service for the water industry in England and Wales", a copy of which is in the Library of the House.

Mr. Caton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what allowance is made for regional variations and priorities in OFWAT's Water Companies Price Review. [100458]

Mr. Mullin: The price review is a matter for the Director General of Water Services. The Secretary of State for Environment, Transport and the Regions and the Secretary of State for Wales issued guidance to the Director General on the environmental and quality objectives to be achieved by the water industry between 2000 and 2005. These reflected local environmental priorities, but were defined to avoid unacceptable impacts on water prices in different parts of England and Wales.

In the case of Dwr Cymru (Welsh Water) and Dee Valley Water, the Secretary of State's functions in this matter transferred to the National Assembly for Wales on 1 July 1999.

Mr. Caton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what information and communications with the water companies are used in the price review process and not reported in OFWAT's price determination document. [100454]

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Mr. Mullin: This is a matter for the Director General of Water Services. His report "Final Determinations: Future water and sewerage charges 2000-05" includes a full account of the price review process.

Mr. Caton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what consideration OFWAT is required to give to (a) environmental, (b) health and safety and (c) local economic factors during a water company price review. [100453]

Mr. Mullin: The Secretary of State and the Secretary of State for Wales issued guidance to the Director General of Water Services on the environmental and quality objectives to be achieved by the water industry in England and Wales between 2000 and 2005. This guidance was published under the title "Raising the Quality" in September 1998, and was supported by more detailed announcements of company programmes on 1 March 1999.

In the case of Dwr Cymru (Welsh Water) and Dee Valley Water, the Secretary of State's functions transferred to the National Assembly for Wales on 1 July 1999. In respect of the remaining companies, the Secretary of State confirmed the environment and quality programme on 24 November.

The Director has a statutory duty to ensure that companies can finance the proper carrying of their functions. This includes obligations enforced by the Health and Safety Executive. The handling of the price review is a matter for the Director. I understand that he received representations on a wide range of issues, including factors such as local economic considerations.

Noise Pollution

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement on his Department's policy following the case of London Borough of Southwark v. Mills, in relation to the problem of noise pollution. [100436]

Mr. Hill: We have noted with interest this clarification of the law in relation to domestic noise activity.

Westminster Underground

Mr. Fearn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what is his Department's estimate of the opening date for Westminster Underground Station on the Jubilee Line. [100262]

Mr. Hill: London Transport aim to open the Jubilee Line station at Westminster shortly before Christmas. It is, however, a very deep and highly complex station, being constructed on an extremely constricted site. LT cannot therefore guarantee the opening date at present.

Bridstow Primary School

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what assessment has been made of the provision of school crossing signs or signals on the A49 to ensure safer access to Bridstow Primary School; and if he will make a statement. [99852]

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Mr. Hill [holding answer 26 November 1999]: I have asked the Chief Executive of the Highways Agency to write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Ginny Clarke to Mr. Paul Keetch, dated 1 December 1999:



    There are school warning signs located on the approaches to this school to alert motorists to the presence of schoolchildren but there are no signals. The Highways Agency has not undertaken an assessment for signals in this location, but Herefordshire Council, who have responsibility for deciding on the need for a crossing patrol, has advised that the school does not meet the criteria for a patrol. In these circumstances, flashing amber signals would not be appropriate.


    If a crossing patrol were to be operated at the school, the Highways Agency would, of course, give serious consideration to the provision of flashing amber signals.


    If you would like to discuss the matter further, Tom Barry, the Highways Agency's Area 9 Manager, would be pleased to help. Tom is based at the Birmingham office at Broadway, Broad Street, Birmingham B15 1BL and can contacted by telephone on 0121 678 8366.


    I hope this is helpful.

Waste Edible Oils

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many tonnes per annum of waste edible oils are produced in the UK from the UK's food manufacturing base and catering establishments; and if he will make a statement. [100221]

Mr. Mullin: The exact amount of waste of this type is not known. However, the Feed Fat Association estimate that some 90,000 tonnes of waste edible oils are recycled each year from UK food establishments.


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