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Written Answers to Questions

Wednesday 15 December 1999

ENVIRONMENT, TRANSPORT AND THE REGIONS

Drink Driving

Mr. Crausby: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what extra measures he proposes in order to achieve reductions in drink driving offences over the Christmas and new year holiday period. [101664]

Mr. Hill: My noble Friend Lord Whitty launched the Government's Christmas and new year anti-drink-drive publicity campaign on 1 December. The campaign is designed to reduce the number of deaths and injuries resulting from drink-driving especially during the coming holiday period, and also throughout the year. It has a particular significance this year because of the additional celebrations to mark the Millennium. The campaign emphasises the importance of planning ahead to ensure a safe journey home from festive celebrations. It also reinforces our message that drivers can still be well over the legal blood alcohol limit the following day after consuming alcohol and therefore should exercise particular caution in deciding when to resume driving. Nearly one in 10 of positive breath tests at the scene of an accident results from tests taken between 6am and 1pm.

Street Works

Mr. Blizzard: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what assessment he has made of the compliance rate of utilities in using permanent reinstatement materials as set out in the statutory code of practice under the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991. [102119]

Mr. Hill: Research carried out for the Department by the Transport Research Laboratory, covering a period up to early 1998, showed that there was room for improvement in utilities' standards of compliance with the statutory code of practice on reinstatement (the reinstatement specification). Street works and the reinstatements after works are subject to inspection by street authorities (normally the local highway authorities), who have powers under the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 to ensure compliance with the specification.

The research is contributing to the revision of the specification, a new edition of which we expect to be published next year.

Jet-skis

Mr. Wigley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will ban the use of jet-skis in environmentally sensitive areas. [102169]

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Mr. Meacher: Some environmentally sensitive areas already have local byelaws imposing strict speed limits, which result in the exclusion of jet-skis. We expect local authorities--who are responsible for making most local byelaws--to continue to judge each case on its merits.

Last year's report of the Review of Byelaw Powers for the Coast recommended that local authorities should be given more general powers to regulate activities on the coast which affect the wider environment, such as the use of personal watercraft. We have given a long-term commitment to introduce legislation to take forward those recommendations in the Review which require changes to the law. In the meantime, we have published a voluntary code of best and safe practice for leisure craft users, and we are exploring options for a voluntary boat registration and identification scheme, which would include jet-skis.

Sea Rescues and Emergencies Database

Ms Atherton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what guidance he has given on the collation of data for the Sea Rescues and Emergencies Database. [102561]

Mr. Hill: The Sea Rescues and Emergencies Database (SEAREM) is owned, administered and funded by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) who are a registered charity and are independent of Government.

The only Government contribution towards SEAREM is in the form of data supplied by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), an executive agency of the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, and the Defence Analytical Services Agency (DASA), an executive agency of the Ministry of Defence. Guidance for the making of data contributions has, therefore, been issued to these agencies from the RNLI.

Ms Atherton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement on the inclusion of rescues by local authority lifeguards within the Sea Rescues and Emergencies Database. [102563]

Mr. Hill: Local Authority lifeguards make no direct contribution to the Sea Rescues and Emergencies Database (SEAREM), as they do not have access to the database. If local authority lifeguards wish to provide data to the SEAREM database they do so through either the Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) of the Surf Life Saving Association (SLSA) who, as direct contributors, are able to access SEAREM database.

Time Savings

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions for what reasons (a) time savings to road users are incorporated in net present value calculations of the benefits of road capital schemes and (b) time savings to rail users are excluded from rail investment appraisals. [102597]

Mr. Hill: Road and rail investment schemes are appraised against the Government's five over-arching criteria as set out in the Integrated Transport White Paper: "environment, safety, economy, accessibility and integration". Time savings are included under the economy criterion for both road and rail appraisals.

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Air Services

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions in which negotiations about new air services between London and the United States (a) he and (b) other Ministers in his Department have been involved since 1997; and what criteria determined the level of ministerial involvement in each case. [102779]

Mr. Mullin: Negotiations between the UK and other countries are conducted by officials after consultation with Ministers. The level of ministerial involvement in any instance is determined having regard to the circumstances of the case. In the case of negotiations with the United States, Ministers have taken a close interest.

Airlines

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what representations he received from British Airways and Virgin Atlantic prior to the granting of a slot to United Airlines to operate an air service between Boston and Heathrow; and if he will make a statement. [102780]

Mr. Mullin: Both airlines submitted views on the legal question of whether the application by United Airlines for a permit to operate a service between Boston and London had to be regarded as an entitlement under the terms of Bermuda II. These views were taken into account in reaching the decision to issue a permit.

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if the decisions by the United States Administration and Her Majesty's Government to allow (a) British Airways to commence a service between Denver and Gatwick and (b) US Airways to commence a service between Charlotte and Gatwick were taken (i) jointly or (ii) separately. [102797]

Mr. Mullin: The entitlement to operate these services derives from the Air Services Agreement between the UK and the US, commonly referred to as Bermuda II. The UK issued a permit for the US Airways Charlotte service in April 1998. The US was slow to issue a permit for the BA Denver service, and did not do so until July 1998.

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what discussions he held with the US Secretary of Transportation before agreeing to grant a slot to United Airlines to operate an air service between Boston and Heathrow; and if he will make a statement. [102782]

Mr. Mullin: No discussions were held with the US Department of Transportation before a permit was issued to United Airlines to operate a service between Boston and London. The Government takes no part in the allocation of slots at slot-constrained UK airports; these are allocated by Airport Co-ordination Ltd.

Road Improvement Schemes

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will list the major road improvement schemes that are now taking place within the Greater London area. [102708]

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

Letter from David York, to Mr. Tom Cox, dated 15 December 1999:



    Landscaping work is being carried out on the A12 Hackney M11 Link Road which opened to traffic on 6th October. The final section of the A13 West of Heathway to Mardyke scheme opened to traffic on 14 December and work continues on the London Primary Route Network Signing project to redesign and replace direction signs on London's primary routes within the M25 corridor. This work is being carried out in three phases because of its complexity and geographical spread. Two of the phases, covering East London and South West London, will be completed shortly, whilst work on the third phase, covering North West London, is expected to be completed in Autumn 2000.


    There are also a number of schemes in the pipeline. We are nearly ready to award a contract for the A13 Thames Gateway DBFO project which includes improvements at Ironbridge-Canning Town, the A13/A117 junction and Movers Lane junction. Subject to the completion of the necessary statutory procedures, it could also include improvements to the A13/A117 Prince Regent Lane junction.


    Detailed design work for the A40 Western Avenue bridge replacement scheme will start next year and we are preparing tender documents for the A23 Coulsdon Inner Relief Road improvement scheme so that it could start in early 2002. There are also four proposals to improve the A406 North Circular Road at Bounds Green, Regents Park and Golders Green and the A205 at Catford Town Centre. These schemes will transfer to the Greater London Authority (GLA) who will study the role of these roads as part of their development of a transport strategy for London. It will be for the GLA to decide whether or not to take the schemes forward.


    One local authority major improvement is also underway, the A240 North South strategy for the London Borough of Kensington.


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