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31 Jan 2006 : Column 296W—continued

Road Charging

Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he plans to allow local authorities to impose levies or charges for road use; and if he will make a statement. [46692]

Dr. Ladyman: In the Future of Transport White Paper (Cm 6234) the Government set out that, without radical measures, including more effective demand management, road congestion would get worse. That is why we need to look at whether road pricing would allow us to get more out of the network, particularly at peak times.

A national scheme of road pricing which covered all roads, charging motorists on the basis of distance travelled and varied according to how congested a road is, could potentially cut urban congestion by nearly half. But moving to a national system of road pricing would be a huge and complex task. That is why the Road Pricing Feasibility Study, which was published alongside the White Paper, recommended that local or regional schemes should be used to pilot approaches to road pricing.

The Secretary of State announced on 5 July 2005, Official Report, column 172, that the Government would ensure that up to £200 million would be available from the Transport Innovation Fund to support local pilots that combine demand management, specifically road pricing, with better public transport. If more good schemes emerge, then more would be made available.
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The Transport Innovation Fund guidance, Official Report, column 66WS, 27 January 2006, sets out how local authorities and areas can bid for this funding.

Because the development of these schemes will be a complex undertaking the Government have made £18 million of pump priming funding available between 2005–06 and 2007–08 to help support the work of local authorities in developing local demand management schemes. The first allocation to seven areas was announced in 28 November 2005, Official Report, column 4WS.

Local highway authorities in England and Wales already have discretionary powers under the Transport Act 2000 to introduce such road user charging (road pricing) schemes. For a scheme to come into force an Order has to be approved by the appropriate national authority, which is the Secretary of State for transport in England.

Off-road Cycleways

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the length in miles was of off-road cycleways in each local authority area in each of the last 20 years. [46077]

Derek Twigg: Information on cycle tracks (off-road cycleways) in English local authorities has only been collected since 2001–02 and is set out in the table, which has been placed in the Libraries of the House.

The information is provided by local authorities on an annual basis as part of their annual performance reports on the local transport plans. It is not verified by the Department. Responsibility for the accuracy of the data rests with individual authorities. The data are incomplete and include estimates.

A breakdown of cycle tracks by London borough is not available. Transport for London estimates that there are approximately 200 km of off-road cycle routes. The Welsh Assembly Government do not currently collect this information centrally.

Road Safety

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many fatalities have occurred in each year between 2000 and 2005 as a result of motor accidents caused by drivers (a) using mobile phones and (b) smoking while driving. [47489]

Dr. Ladyman: The information requested is not available. However, from 1 January 2005, information on contributory factors to accidents has been collected for personal injury road accidents reported at scene by a police officer. One of the factors is driver using mobile phone". Subject to quality tests, first results should be available in autumn 2006.

Trams (Leeds)

Greg Mulholland: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much his Department spent, including consultants' and civil servants' costs, considering the revised tram proposals in Leeds from May 2004. [47121]

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Derek Twigg: We did not keep a record of the time civil servants spent considering the revised tram proposals. The Department did not commission any consultants directly to consider the revised tram proposals in Leeds from May 2004.

The Department did, however, commission consultants Atkins to carry out a study into a high quality bus alternative for Leeds. As part of this study, Atkins and West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive's (WYPTE's) advisers considered the revised tram proposals in the context of a comparison with a high quality bus alternative. The cost to the Department of commissioning Atkins, and paying a share of WYPTE's advisers, is £93,000.


Abandoned Vehicles

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many abandoned vehicles were removed and destroyed in each local authority in Gloucestershire in each of the last five years. [46432]

Mr. Bradshaw: Results for abandoned vehicles removed and destroyed have been reported in the Defra Municipal Waste Management Survey from 2000–01 until 2003–04. Results for 2004–05 onwards are being collected through WasteDataFlow and will be released when they are available. The results for local authorities in Gloucestershire are shown in the following table.
Local authority2000–012001–022002–032003–04
Forest of Dean186360466360

n/a = results not available

Animal Welfare Bill

Mr. Maples: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many times she has met representatives from the (a) RSPCA, (b) British Veterinary Association and (c) representative body of the Council of Docked Breeds to discuss the Animal Welfare Bill. [46830]

Mr. Bradshaw: The Department has held meetings at all levels with a variety of groups to discuss the Animal Welfare Bill.

Avian Influenza

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what public meetings are planned to be held on avian influenza; and where they will be held. [46495]

Mr. Bradshaw: Defra has not organised any public meetings on Avian Influenza, however, we are running a series of regional meetings for poultry producers and others associated with the industry on a range of Avian Influenza issues.
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Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate she has made of the cost to the (a) chicken, (b) turkey, (c) emu, (d) duck, (e) goose, (f) game bird and (g) ostrich and rhea farming industries of an avian influenza pandemic. [46597]

Mr. Bradshaw: No estimates have been made of the cost to the poultry industry in the event of an outbreak of avian influenza. Any action taken to control the disease should be proportionate and decided upon in the light of an overall assessment of the risks, costs and benefits in a particular situation.

The cost to the industry in the event of an outbreak will depend on the circumstances prevailing at the time—not least in respect of the scale of any outbreak.

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if the Government will make funds available to (a) Vietnam, (b) Turkey and (c) other countries for the purposes of controlling the spread of avian influenza in those countries. [46954]

Mr. Bradshaw: As outlined at the pledging conference held in Beijing on 17 and 18 January this year, the UK Government will assist countries at-risk or affected by avian influenza. The Department for International Development will provide £20 million over the next three years to support country, regional or global activities.

UK research bodies are also keen to collaborate with affected and at-risk countries. The Medical Research Council recently announced a £10 million collaborative programme which can support such partnerships as required.

Damian Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to ban the spreading of poultry manure as a measure against an outbreak of avian influenza; and if she will make a statement. [47499]

Mr. Bradshaw: Directive 2005/94/EC on the control of avian influenza, adopted on 20 December 2005, contains amended provisions on manure and would be implemented immediately in an outbreak of the disease.

Under the directive, following an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza, the movement of manure would be controlled in the surveillance zone, which extends for a minimum of 10 km around the infected premises. In these zones, no used litter or poultry manure may be removed from, or spread on, any premises unless authorised under biosecurity measures. This provision can be extended to a wider area if necessary to reduce the risk of the spread of disease.

The same measures will be put in place following an outbreak of low pathogenic avian influenza. However, the restricted zone would be of a minimum of 1 km around the infected premises.

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