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Mr. David Atkinson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what proposals he has to increase traffic flow during the current road works on the A31 in the New Forest particularly during weekends; when he expects the road works to be completed; and if he will make a statement. [100522]

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Mr. Hill: I have asked the Chief Executive of the Highways Agency, Mr. Peter Nutt, to write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Peter Nutt to Mr. David Atkinson, dated 7 December 1999:

    It is not possible to relax the traffic restrictions on the A31 between Picket Post and Stoney Cross at this stage of the works. Traffic management has been designed to allow for maximum lane availability during peak periods. Greater traffic restrictions are needed at other times to allow the resurfacing and bridge maintenance works to be done safely.

    During weekdays, two lanes are provided at peak times in the direction of greatest demand. At weekends, two lanes are provided eastbound from 1600 hrs to 2000 hrs. At all other times, a contraflow of one lane in each direction is used.

    The work is due to be completed by 12 December, weather permitting.


Mr. Stunell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what was the standard reference rent established by the Rent Officer Service for each locality within Greater Manchester and Cheshire for four room and five room accommodation in each of the last three years; and if he will make a statement. [100768]

Mr. Mullin: The available annual information is given in the table. Reference rents will differ from one year to the next because of differences in the type and condition of property covered each year. These figures are not included in the publication "Rent Officer Statistics" because the number of cases reported for each locality is too small a basis for reliable quarterly estimates.

7 Dec 1999 : Column: 475W

Average local reference rents, Greater Manchester and Cheshire
Weekly rent (£)

Accommodation with four rooms Accommodation with five rooms
Greater Manchester71.0071.3772.2079.1779.1780.81
Crewe and Nantwich67.6271.2871.5078.55(3)78.0481.92
Vale Royal80.44(3)90.3193.22(3)89.53(3)102.81(3)105.92
Ellesmere Port and Neston(3)80.03(3)83.7280.00(3)84.65(3)99.18(3)85.94

(3) Number of cases fewer than 100


Rent Officer returns

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Channel Tunnel

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if safety recommendations to be enacted in accordance with section 37 of the Cologne Conclusions will apply to the Channel Tunnel; and if cost compliance will be included by the UK delegates in working group negotiations. [100996]

Mr. Hill: The Transport Council has yet to consider any recommendations on tunnel safety. However, paragraph 37 of the Cologne Council conclusions refers to road tunnels. It therefore seems likely that any recommendations would not be directly applicable to rail tunnels such as the Channel Tunnel.

The independent, binational Channel Tunnel Safety Authority, which oversees all matters relating to safety in the Channel Tunnel, has studied the various investigations into the Mont Blanc Tunnel fire and has identified no immediate or urgent safety implications for the Channel Tunnel. The Safety Authority will study with interest any recommendations the Transport Council may make, once they are published, to see whether they have any implications for the Tunnel.

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement on the provision of direct rail services between the north west and the rest of Europe via the Channel Tunnel. [101347]

Mr. Hill [holding answer 6 December 1999]: Such services are the subject of an extensive independent review, the results of which the Deputy Prime Minister is currently considering. A statement will be made in due course.

Road Surfacing

Mr. Blizzard: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what assessment he has made of the value of porous asphalt road surfacing as a means of reducing spray in wet weather. [101136]

Mr. Hill: I have asked the Chief Executive of the Highways Agency, Mr. Peter Nutt, to write to my hon. Friend.

Letter from Richard Thorndike to Mr. Bob Blizzard, dated 7 December 1999:

    Research undertaken by the Highways Agency has assessed the value of using porous asphalt road surfaces, including the benefit of reduced spray. Work carried out in the 1980's has shown that porous asphalt can reduce spray by as much as 95 per cent. compared to conventional asphalt when new. This reduces to approximately 30 per cent. after about three years due to the clogging of the porous asphalt from road detritus. The reduction in spray and the better visibility it offers drivers in wet weather, could be expected to reduce accidents when using porous asphalt compared with conventional surfacing.

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    As part of a strategy to reduce impact of road noise the Highways Agency is carrying out research into alternative types of low noise road surfacing. As a result, new types of surfacing are now being introduced, some of which are often confused with porous asphalt, given their spray suppressing properties. Research on porous asphalt and the new road surfaces is continuing and will include monitoring spray reduction and the benefits offered.

    If it would be helpful, Graham Bowskill, our Head of Civil Engineering, would be pleased to discuss the performance of porous asphalt and other road surfacing with you. His telephone number is 0171 921 4746.

Petrol Emissions

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what emissions are produced from the use of a gallon of (a) unleaded petrol, (b) super unleaded petrol and (c) lead replacement petrol. [101093]

Mr. Hill: There is no fundamental difference in emissions produced by any of these grades of petrol, the primary combustion products being carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) and water vapour. Combustion of one gallon will produce approximately 10.7 kg of CO 2 and 4.3 kg of water. Small amounts of secondary combustion products can also be created, but the actual amounts will vary from vehicle to vehicle depending on the combustion efficiency of the engine in which the fuel is burned and the efficiency of any exhaust gas after-treatment that may be fitted. These secondary pollutants are mainly comprised of hydrocarbons (HC) arising from unburned or partially burned fuel, oxides of nitrogen (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO) and particulates. Depending on the level of sulphur in the fuel, sulphur compounds can also be produced. Other compounds, resulting from the use of fuel additives such as, for example, potassium that is used in lead replacement petrol, may also be emitted in trace concentrations.

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