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31 Jan 2007 : Column 324W—continued

Birmingham New Street Station

Alison Seabeck: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of whether the platforming arrangements at New Street station are adequate to accommodate the December 2008 timetable for (a) peak and (b) off-peak times. [111508]

Mr. Tom Harris: The number of cross-country passengers who have to change at Birmingham New Street station will reduce with the implementation of the December 2008 timetable, therefore it is anticipated that the flow of passengers around the station will improve with the introduction of the timetable. Network Rail has already indicated that robust and reliable plans for the operational issue of train platforming for the clock-face timetables which will operate have been made.

Public Service Vehicle Drivers

Mr. Gale: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if, in the light of the employment by the Stagecoach company in East Kent of a convicted child sex offender as a school bus driver, he will review the efficacy of the powers available to the traffic commissioners to reject applications for public service vehicle drivers. [112003]

Dr. Ladyman [holding answer 29 January 2007]: Existing legislation already gives powers to the traffic commissioners to refuse a passenger carrying vehicle licence to an applicant, and to suspend, revoke or increase a disqualification period of an existing licence holder.

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The Secretary of State refers decisions regarding the fitness of applicants for and holders of PCV driving licences to the traffic commissioners.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, in conjunction with the traffic commissioners, assesses continually the effectiveness of the procedures governing the issue of PCV licences.

Where convictions are declared, DVLA refers the application as a matter of routine to the traffic commissioner to make an independent and objective evaluation of risk, to inform the licensing decision.

Rail Services

Geraldine Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he is taking to improve rail services between Lancaster and Morecambe. [112638]

Mr. Tom Harris: Between Lancaster and Morecambe, Northern Rail and Transpennine Express operate a total of 23 services in each direction between the hours of 06.28 and 22.48 on a Monday to Friday. In addition, Northern Rail also operates one service, in each direction, between Leeds and Morecambe, which, for operational reasons, does not call at Lancaster.

The Department for Transport does not have any plans to introduce additional services on this line of route beyond the current level of services that Northern Rail is contracted to deliver.

Railways: West Midlands

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what his estimate is of the change in the price of train fares in the west midlands over the past three years. [112264]

Mr. Tom Harris: Figures are not available by county. Fares for regional operators are compiled by the Office of Rail Regulation and published every year in a document called National Rail Trends Yearbook. Copies of the relevant editions of National Rail Trends Yearbook (2005-06, 2004-05 and 2003-04) will be placed in the Library and are also available at the following addresses respectively:

Renewable Transport Fuel Directive

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the capacity of the UK to meet its obligations under the renewable transport fuel directive from home produced markets up to 2010; and how many hectares of land will be required to meet such obligations. [111625]

Dr. Ladyman: The renewable transport fuel obligation should ensure that 5 per cent. of UK road transport fuel sales will be made up of renewable fuel by 2010. This will represent approximately 2.5 billion litres of biofuel and it is expected that this will be supplied from a mixture of domestic and imported feedstocks. To meet a 5 per cent. fuel obligation entirely from UK sources in 2010, we estimate that between 1
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to 1.5 million hectares of land would be required depending on a range of factors including crop yields, fuel extraction rates, the technologies employed and the market split between petrol and diesel. However, this does not take into account the utilisation of co-products from biofuel production, for example in animal feed, which will reduce the overall land requirement. In the longer term, advanced technologies for processing feedstocks should also help to reduce the land requirements.

UK farmers will be able to compete in this market, and a number of major new biofuel production plants are at the planning and construction stage in various parts of the UK. We understand that several of these are anticipating making use of home-grown biofuel feedstocks. However, much will also depend on the ability of UK farmers to compete on price and quality with overseas producers.

Road Safety: Bexley

Mr. Evennett: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many accidents were reported on (a) the A2 in Bexley borough, (b) the A20 in Bexley borough, (c) Brampton Road, Bexleyheath, (d) Okehampton Crescent, Welling, (e) Bourne Road, Bexley, (f) Gravel Hill, Bexley, (g) Upper Wickham Lane, Welling, (h) Knee Hill, Abbey Wood, (i) Park View Road, Bexleyheath, (j) Broadway, Bexleyheath, (k) Avenue Road, Bexleyheath, (l) Pickford Lane, Bexleyheath and (m) Long Lane, Bexleyheath in 2005-06. [112585]

Dr. Ladyman: The information requested is shown in the table:

Number of personal injury road accidents reported to the police by location: GB 2005
Accident location Number of accidents

(a) The A2 in Bexley borough


(b) The A20 in Bexley borough


(c) Brampton Road, Bexleyheath


(d) Okehampton Crescent, Welling


(e) Bourne Road, Bexley


(f) Gravel Hill, Bexley


(g) Upper Wickham Lane, Welling


(h) Knee Hill, Abbey Wood


(i) Park View Road, Bexleyheath


(j) Broadway, Bexleyheath


(k) Avenue Road, Bexleyheath


(l) Pickford Lane, Bexleyheath


(m) Long Lane, Bexleyheath


Data for 2006 are not available.

Roundabouts: A50

Mr. Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to remove the roundabouts on the A50 between the M1 and M6. [117776]

Dr. Ladyman: There are no plans to remove the roundabouts on the A50 between the M1 and the M6.

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Seafarers: Competency Certificates

Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many certificates of equivalent competency have been issued to foreign seafarers in each year since 2000. [117629]

Dr. Ladyman: The number of full certificates of equivalent competency issued to holders of certificate of competency under the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers 1978 as amended in 1995, each year since 2000 is as shown in the following table. Complete information about CECs in 2000 and 2001 under the unamended 1978 convention can be obtained only at disproportionate cost. The 1995 amendments to the 1978 convention came into force in 2002.

















Mr. Letwin: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the progress of proposals to allow reflective strips in place of lighting on skips. [117692]

Dr. Ladyman: The Department has intended for some time to consult on requirements for marking and lighting builders' skips once a new British standard for use of brighter reflective markings became available. The new standard (BS 8408) was published in 2005. We will consult in due course.

Speed-reduction Zones

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representations he has received on the introduction of graduated speed-reduction zones on approaches to urban areas to reduce road accidents. [117726]

Dr. Ladyman: Traffic authorities already have powers to introduce local speed limits including graduated reductions in speed limits if they believe it appropriate to do so. There is no requirement for them to seek approval from the Department, therefore no representations have been received.

Traffic Area Offices

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency will honour individual commitments to staff in the traffic area offices, other than Leeds, in relation to redeployment or severance. [112424]

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Dr. Ladyman: The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency will honour its commitments where it has entered into an agreement with individuals in relation to redeployment or severance.

Transport: Schools

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many schools in (a) Coventry and (b) the west midlands have taken part in the Travelling to School scheme. [112265]

Gillian Merron: Fifty-one Coventry schools (39 per cent.) and 1,160 west midlands schools (43 per cent.) had high-quality school travel plans in place by 31 March 2006. Nationally, there were more than 10,000 schools (40 per cent.) with high-quality school travel plans, reflecting the Travelling to School initiative.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Bovine TB

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) whether his Department plans to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of the reduction of the age of cattle for pre-movement tuberculosis testing to 16 weeks; [110996]

(2) what estimate his Department has made of the added cost to the farmer of reducing the age of cattle for pre-movement tuberculosis testing to 16 weeks. [110997]

Mr. Bradshaw: A cost benefit assessment of extending pre-movement testing for bovine TB to cattle over six weeks old moving out of one or two year tested herds has been carried out. The additional cost to farmers in England is estimated to be £2.3 million.

The Department estimates that, once fully implemented, the policy will save about 610 new incidents a year. Total costs of the policy per year are estimated as £5.9 million, total benefits £10.5 million, giving net benefits of £4.6 million.

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will assess the merits of implementing in England a policy of valuing bovine TB slaughtered cattle on a case by case basis. [111998]

Mr. Bradshaw: We do not intend to revert from a table-based compensation system to one based exclusively on individual valuations.

While DEFRA has not ruled out the possibility of changes to the current compensation system, any changes would need to be justified and fair to farmers and the taxpayer. They would also need to take account of the extensive evidence on the level of over valuation experienced under the previous system based on individual valuations.

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Bull Fighting

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent representations he has made to Spain on bull fighting; and what his policy is on bull fighting. [111055]

Mr. Bradshaw: We are opposed to any form of animal cruelty, including bull fighting.

No specific representations have been made to Spain in relation to bullfighting. The UK actively works at European and international level to try to ensure that countries adopt animal welfare standards which are as high as our own.

Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what consultations his Department has had with (a) local authorities and (b) associated bodies on the financial impact of section 68 of the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005; [111867]

(2) what steps his Department has taken to ensure that local authorities are fulfilling their obligations to receive and collect stray dogs under the Environmental Protection Act 1990; and what sanctions his Department can impose on local authorities who fail to fulfil their obligations. [111834]

Mr. Bradshaw: DEFRA officials have held a number of discussions with the Local Government Association, local authorities and other interested organisations about the financial impact of section 68 of the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act. When commenced, section 68 will transfer responsibility for stray dogs from the police solely to local authorities.

Discussions on the transfer of funding from the police to local authorities to reflect the change in responsibility are ongoing, and a date has not yet been set for the commencement of the change. A circular clarifying responsibilities for stray dogs is due to be sent to all local authorities and police forces in the coming week.

Local councils are legally responsible for taking in stray dogs under the Environmental Protection Act. Any dogs seized by their officers or brought in by members of the public must be kept for a minimum of seven days and be provided with suitable kennelling.

There is no specific provision in the Environmental Protection Act for this Department to intervene if a local authority breaches its statutory duty in relation to stray dogs.

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