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4 Mar 2003 : Column 935W—continued


Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment has been made by his Department on the effect of the central London congestion charge on (a) traffic levels, (b) traffic speeds, (c) bus usage, (d) air pollution and (e) road safety; and if he will make a statement. [100533]

Mr. Jamieson: We are following the scheme's progress with great interest. However, it is the responsibility of the Mayor and Transport for London (TfL) to monitor the scheme's effects. The first annual report will be published in spring 2003, meanwhile a paper on their proposed monitoring, "Impacts Monitoring Programme: Preview of First Annual Report" was published on 4 February, and is available on the TfL website at: monitoring.shtml.

Highways Agency

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport on what basis the valuation of Highways Agency assets in the National Asset Register was made; and if he will make a statement. [99395]

Mr. Jamieson: The data used to compile the National Asset Register return was based on the Agency's resource accounts for the year ending 31 March 2000 which were prepared in accordance with the Treasury Resource Accounting Manual.

The trunk road network was valued at depreciated replacement cost. This was based on internal costing and physical asset records adjusted to current prices and to reflect the condition of the network. The network assets comprise carriageways; earthworks; tunnels and

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road pavements; roadside communications; bridges and other structures; and land and buildings within the highways perimeter.

Roads in the course of design or construction were valued at current cost. Most other tangible assets were similarly valued at current cost. IT hardware and office equipment was valued at historic cost.

Hospitality Budget

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what his Department's hospitality budget (a) is in 2002–03 and (b) was in each of the last three years; and how much was left unspent at the end of each financial year. [99580]

Mr. Jamieson: The Department does not have a dedicated hospitality budget.

Light Rapid Transit Project

Mr. Viggers: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on progress of the Light Rapid Transit project for Fareham-Gosport-Portsmouth. [100187]

Mr. Jamieson: We approved this scheme for funding in March 2001. The new light rail line will bring considerable benefits to the residents of Fareham, Gosport and Portsmouth. It will help to reduce congestion by providing a realistic alternative to the car. I understand that the promoters are currently assessing bids from two consortia to build the scheme.

Maritime Oil Cargo

Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent measures he has taken with his European colleagues to improve the safety of transport of oil cargo in European waters. [100490]

Mr. Jamieson: A number of measures designed to improve the safety of the transport of oil by sea were agreed at the European Transport Council on 6 December 2002. The Council set out 20 conclusions, endorsed a week later at Head of Government level, which requested action at member state level, collectively at EU level, and by member states at the international level. The range of activity is ambitious—from ship design through better enforcement of existing safety rules to better arrangements for intervention, salvage and clean-up.

Maritime Pollution

Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what progress has been made since 1997 in reducing pollution in UK waters; what proposals he has to further reduce these levels; and if he will make a statement. [100491]

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Mr. Jamieson: My Department has taken a number of proactive measures since 1997 with a view to reducing pollution in UK waters. Among these measures, the following are particularly worthy of note:

As regards further measures, the Government are now in the final stages of the identification of Marine Environmental High Risk Areas (MEHRAs), which will further assist in the protection of our seas and coasts. We are working on a consultation document which will announce the locations of the MEHRAs and seek comments on a range of issues associated with MEHRAs. We expect to issue the document for public consultation shortly.

My Department's Maritime and Coastguard Agency annually commissions a report to compile statistics and other information on the different types of marine pollution in the waters around the British Isles. Since 1965 this work has been completed by the Advisory Committee on Protection of the Sea (ACOPS), and in 2000 the ACOPS Report was revised and now provides data on the number of incidents, the type of incident by pollutant, the source of the pollutant and the geographical distribution of the reported incidents. The key figures from the ACOPS Reports since 1997 on chemical, oil, diesel spillages in UK waters are as follows.

Number of pollution incidents678743
Incidents where source could be identified (Percentage)8788
Incidents from offshore oil and gas installations (Number)419456
Mineral oils (Percentage)95.595
Chemicals (Percentage)1.30.7
Garbage (Percentage)0.40.5
Vegetable/animal oils (Percentage)0.30.4
Other substances (Percentage)2.43

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Number of pollution incidentsIncidents where source could be identifiedIncidents from offshore oil and gas installationsIncidents where an estimate of the quantity of oil was reportedIncidents where 100 gallons or more were spilled


Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what measures he is taking to address the shortcomings in the provision of safety information by NATS to general aviation; and what assessment his Department has made of the risk posed by flying without access to safety information; [100260]

Mr. Jamieson: The Government's statutory aviation safety adviser, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), has assured me that there are no shortcomings in the provision of Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) information. The new version of the NOTAM handling system launched last August by National Air Traffic Services Ltd. (NATS) did have teething problems, but the CAA is satisfied that aviation safety has not been compromised and it has been possible to obtain the required data during this period.

My officials have been in regular contact since last September with the CAA and NATS to discuss the resolution of the outstanding difficulties with the NOTAM system. Many of these difficulties have been resolved by the system improvements made since its introduction last August and which have concentrated on making it more user friendly. Furthermore, a number of meetings have taken place between CAA and NATS officials and representatives of the user community to address these concerns.

NATS is scheduled to introduce a further revision of the NOTAM system in April 2003 designed to overcome the outstanding difficulties the General Aviation community is having with it. Officials from my Department and the CAA are monitoring the progress of this work and will continue to scrutinise the performance of the system after the changes have been made.

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