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2 Apr 2003 : Column 700W—continued

Local Government and the Regions Committee

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list the members of the working group referred to in the Government's response to the Ninth Report of the Transport, Local Government and the Regions Committee, HC557 Session 2001–02, on Road Traffic Speed. [106402]

Mr. Jamieson: The rural road hierarchy working group consisted of representatives of this Department, Babtie Ross Silcock consultants, the Highways Agency, Scottish Executive, Scots (Society of Chief Officers of Transportation in Scotland), National Assembly for Wales, CSS (County Surveyors Society), Countryside Agency, Slower Speeds Initiative, Motorists Forum, ACPO and IHT (Institute of Highways and Transportation).

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Rail Services

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what discussions he has had with the Strategic Rail Authority on the past and future undertaking of funding for rail freight through (a) Freight Small Schemes Fund, (b) incremental output statements for freight, (c) freight facilities grant and (d) track access charges; and if he will make a statement; [104503]

Mr. Jamieson: Ministers and officials in my Department meet regularly with the Strategic Rail Authority about a wide range of issues and receive representations from time to time about the funding of rail freight

The SRA's Strategic Plan sets out its proposals to introduce a new Company Neutral Revenue Support scheme later this year. It is also revising its rates for calculating freight grant awards (Sensitive Lorry Miles). The Freight Small Schemes fund is used internally by the Strategic Rail Authority to fund development work and is not available as a source of funding for outside bodies.

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what meetings he (a) has had and (b) plans with members of York council on the Rail Passenger Scheme proposed for new stations at Haxby and Strensall. [104496]

Mr. Jamieson: None. However, my right hon. Friend the Minister of State for Transport has exchanged correspondence with City of York council about the North East York Rail Scheme.

Mrs. Helen Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he estimates there will be a new railway station in Peterborough. [105806]

Mr. Jamieson: There are currently no plans for a new railway station at Peterborough.

Rural Roads

Mr. David Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will commission demonstration projects on rural road speed management. [106401]

Mr. Jamieson: The Department has no immediate plans to commission any demonstration projects on rural road speed management.

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Mr. Robert Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what his policy is on signage for local destinations from trunk roads in urban areas. [106199]

Mr. Jamieson: The overall policy is to provide drivers with sufficient information to reach their intended destination safely and efficiently, but not more information than they can readily absorb or which would require the use of excessively large and environmentally intrusive signs. Local transport note 1/94, based on the results of research into the assimilation of information on directional signs, recommends a maximum of six destinations on any one sign on an all-purpose road, which may include a mixture of primary, non-primary and local destinations. The Highways Agency would normally consult the local traffic authority on traffic management priorities for signing local destinations from the trunk road, to ensure that there will be continuity of signing on the local road network.

Stansted Airport

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what proportion of air travel from Stansted airport was accounted for by (a) residents of the south east of England, (b) residents of other parts of the UK and (c) overseas residents, in the last year for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. [106218]

Mr. Jamieson [holding answer 1 April 2003]:

Distribution of passengers(1) at Stanstead airport by area of residence: 2001

South East(2) (including London)30
East of England(3) 23
Rest of the United Kingdom 19
Overseas 28

Note:In 2001, 81 per cent. of all passengers at Stansted Airport started or ended their journey in the South East, or East of England GORs.

(1) Arrivals and departures

(2) Government Office Region (GOR)

(3) Including Essex and the rest of the East of England GOR

Mr. Prisk: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how the noise preferential routes for Stansted airport under the option of three additional runways as outlined in The Future of Air Transport in the South were determined. [106502]

Mr. Jamieson: No noise preferential routes have been determined for any of the possible additional runways in the consultation document. Aircraft arrival and departure routes were developed for various airport locations to assist with the modelling of noise exposure and local air quality, so that the relative impacts of the many runway development options could be compared.

Routes to and from new runways in all the airport options were derived in essentially the same manner. Routes to and from existing runways were left unchanged wherever practical, and routes for new runways were based on the existing airspace structure of airways, waypoints, holding areas etc.

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Arrival routes to all runways were assumed to be straight in on the runway heading. Departure tracks for new runways at an airport, and existing runways where necessary, were based on existing departure routes as far as practical.

In practice, the development of one or more new runways in the south east would require substantial changes to the region's airspace structure which could affect thefinal configuration of routes. It was not feasible to predict in detail how airspace in the south east might need to be reorganised in the long term to cater for increased activity. As part of the SERAS study, CAA and NATS did carry out a high level assessment of the overall pressures on airspace of sample combinations of new airport capacity up to 2030 and concluded that the increase in air traffic could be accommodated.

Transport Council

Mr. Connarty: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the outcome was of the Transport Council held on 27–28 March; what the Government's stance was on the issues discussed, including its voting record; and if he will make a statement. [106359]

Mr. Spellar: The transport segment of the Transport, Energy and Telecommunications Council was held in Brussels on 27–28 March. I represented the United Kingdom.

The Council reached a general approach on a proposal to further accelerate the phase-out of single hull tankers and to ban the carriage of heavy grades of oil in such ships sailing to and from EU ports. The regulation will apply to all ships calling at or leaving Community ports and to all ships carrying Community flags anywhere in the world. The final date for phase-out of single-hull tankers is 2010, with an exemption until 2015 for certain vessels under specified conditions. A presidency compromise date of 2008 was agreed for the coming into effect of a ban on carriage of heavy oil intankers below 5000 tons deadweight. The definition of heavy oils was agreed as those having a density at 15oC higher than 900kg/m 3 . I would have preferred a transitional period to 2010, and a definition of 950kg/m 3 , but these compromises are acceptable to the UK so, together with other Member States, I was able to support them as part of an overall package.

The Commission presented its proposed Directive on ship source pollution and the introduction of sanctions, including criminal sanctions, for pollution offences. The presidency concluded that the Council would return to the matter in June.

The Council agreed a general approach on a Directive to streamline the assessment of minimum vocational training standards for seafarers. The UK supports the proposal.

The Commission outlined the content of its Communication on Maritime Security, which is expected shortly. It will include a draft regulation on security for ships and ports in the EU, implementing existing IMO obligations, and set out the Commission's future strategy including a Directive on port zones and staff security in the second half of the year. The presidency hoped that the Council would be able to take decisions on these issues at its June meeting.

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Under AOB, Belgium and France urged action by Member States to support an unlimited liability system in respect of oil spills arising from recklessness by ship owners and charterers. This went beyond the Commission's original proposal. Council had previously agreed that the proposed Supplementary Fund to the International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund (IOPC) regime, to be adopted at the May 2003 IMO Conference, should have a limit of up to Euro1 billion. The Commission noted that, if the IMO failed to adopt this supplementary fund, the EU should adopt its own regime before the end of the year.

Also under AOB, the Council discussed a paper for IMO's Marine Environment Protection Committee in July, tabled jointly by France, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and the UK, proposing the creation of Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas (PSSAs), around our coasts. The proposal requires further work on points of detail, but there was support in the debate. The Commission stressed the need for consistency with the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The Commission presented a progress report on the EU satellite navigation project, Galileo, and outlined the state of play on negotiations with third countries. A Commission mandate for negotiations with China about their involvement in the project was agreed on the condition that security arrangements would be the same as for Russia and the US. The presidency looked forward to conclusions on integrating the existing EU EGNOS system in June.

The second rail package, which includes measures to complete market opening for rail freight, promote interoperability and safety and establish a European Rail Authority,was agreed. The package brings forward full liberalisation of international freight from 15 March 2008 to 1 January 2006 and requires liberalisation of domestic rail freight markets by 1 January 2008.

The Commission presented its proposal to improve safety in road tunnels following disasters in Alpine tunnels in recent years. The Directive will apply to all tunnels over 500m long on the Trans European Road Network and will stipulate technical changes, safety instructions for users and different management procedures. At least seven tunnels in the UK would be within scope I expressed concerns about the costs and benefits of the proposal—which are shared by a number of Member States—and about the potential adverse impact on traffic flow.

The Council confirmed the common position it had reached at the special session held on 31 December last on extension of the ecopoints scheme for limiting Alpine lorry transit traffic. In doing so the Council rejected the amendments proposed by the European Parliament in its first reading on 12 February 2003, which could result in a difficult conciliation. The issue is not one in which the UK has a substantive interest.

On aviation issues, the Council debated the Commission's request for a mandate to allow the Commission to negotiate air service agreements with the US. Most Member States were willing to give the Commission a mandate but only in return for greater certainty over future arrangements for the negotiation and implementation of bilateral agreements with third

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countries in light of the recent judgement of the European Court of Justice. The presidency concluded that work would continue with a view to reaching agreement in June.

The Council was asked whether it supported the broad aims of the Commission's proposed regulation on unfair pricing practices by third countries, and where it could be improved to facilitate agreement at the next Transport Council. The Commission's proposal would allow Community measures to be applied to non-EU airlines found to be using state aid to price unfairly. Most Member States agreed with the broad principles of the proposal, but had specific concerns on the detail. The Presidency invited COREPER to consider the issues and submit a text to Council in June for Common Position.

There was a unanimous political agreement on the proposal to improve safety standards of third country airlines operating to and from Community airports.

Following discussion over lunch the presidency reported general support for the Commission's view that state assistance for European airlines during the conflict in Iraq should be limited and proportionate.

No formal votes were taken at this Council.

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