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19 Jun 2007 : Column 1611W—continued

Trams: Nottingham

13. Mr. Allen: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what progress is being made on approving the next tram line in Nottingham. [143393]

Mr. Tom Harris: In October 2006 the Secretary of State announced that he was granting programme entry, for funding purposes, to Phase 2 of the system. In April 2007, Nottinghamshire county council and Nottingham city council applied for the Transport and Works Act powers required to construct and operate the system. I cannot comment on the merits of that application, in order not to prejudice the Secretary of State's fair and impartial consideration of it.

Foreign Registered Aircraft

14. Mr. Scott: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the timetable is for the Civil Aviation Authority's consultation on the application of UK regulatory requirements to foreign registered aircraft based in the UK; and if he will make a statement. [143394]

Gillian Merron: The Civil Aviation Authority is not conducting a consultation on the treatment of foreign registered aircraft based permanently in the UK. However, the Department completed a consultation in 2005 and the Government response is available on the Department's website.

Trains: Overcrowding

16. Mr. Gauke: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on levels of rail overcrowding. [143396]

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Mr. Tom Harris: We will continue to increase capacity through the franchising process and in other ways. In particular, the Secretary of State announced on 14 March that the High Level Output Specification, to be published in July, will include a commitment to a thousand extra carriages. They will be targeted at the most congested routes on the network.

Rail Services

17. Mr. Rogerson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what measures his Department is putting in place to increase the number of passenger journeys on branch lines of the rail network. [143397]

Mr. Tom Harris: The Government are implementing the Community Rail Development Strategy which is intended to increase the number of passengers using branch lines and other rural and suburban routes.

Car Usage

18. Mr. Robathan: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what progress has been made in reducing travel by motor car since 1997. [143398]

Dr. Ladyman: Between 1996-98 (combined years) and 2005, the average number of trips and the average distance travelled per person per year as a car driver has remained stable at around 435 trips and 3,700 miles respectively. However, because the population of Great Britain has increased by 3 per cent. over this period, overall there has been an increase in car travel.

Vehicle Emissions

19. Jo Swinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on progress in lowering the average level of emissions per vehicle. [143399]

Dr. Ladyman: Voluntary agreements are currently in place requiring the car industry to reduce carbon dioxide emissions of new cars by around 25 per cent. from 1995 levels (to an average of 140 grammes per kilometre by 2008-09). However, these agreements are unlikely to be met - the 2004 average for the EU was 163g/km. The Commission is now proposing mandatory new car CO2 targets and the UK supports this approach.

Nottingham Express Transit Tramway

Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the total cost has been so far of the Nottingham Express transit tramway; what the estimated cost is of the proposed extension to Chilwell and Clifton; how many properties, including dwelling houses, are expected to have to be demolished to make way for the extension; and what the expected cost is thereof. [143263]

Mr. Tom Harris: The total cost of building Nottingham Express Transit (NET) Line 1 was £200 million.

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Up to the end of the 2006-07 financial year approximately £10 million has been spent on developing NET Phase Two. The approved scheme cost for Phase Two is £482 million (2005 present value prices).

It is possible that approximately 80 properties may be demolished by the NET Phase Two proposals, although this remains subject to detailed design. Overall land costs, which would include these properties, is estimated at approximately £37 million. The promoters of the system have stated that detailed property values are commercially sensitive at present.

A120: Essex

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he is in a position to provide updated information on the preferred route of the A120 Braintree to Marks Tey improvement; and what exhibitions and presentations are planned to be provided to explain how the decision was made. [143872]

Dr. Ladyman: A public consultation on options for dualling the A120 between Braintree and Marks Tey ended on 17 June 2005, and resulted in a number of additional routes being suggested by respondents. The Highways Agency has been carrying out further work on these proposals, which should be complete this summer. Once I have received that advice I will be in a position to consider the way forward and how those affected should be informed.

A21: Baldslow

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) if he will take steps to ensure that the implementation of the Baudslow link improvement on the A21 will be accelerated; [143771]

(2) if he will make a statement on the delivery of the Baldslow link improvement on the A21; and whether it will be brought forward to be delivered in parallel with the Bexhill to Hastings link road; [143933]

(3) when he expects the Baldslow link improvement to be delivered; and whether funding has been allocated for its construction. [143934]

Dr. Ladyman: The A21 Baldslow Link trunk road improvement is being promoted by the Highways Agency and is a complementary scheme to the Bexhill - Hastings Link Road which is being promoted by East Sussex county council. The Baldslow Link has been prioritised by the south east region for funding from the Regional Funding Allocation with a start of works in 2010-11. It is currently intended that the Baldslow Link would start construction at about the time the Bexhill Hastings Link Road opens to traffic. While planning of the scheme is currently on time, the Highways Agency will seek to improve on this.

Aviation: Exhaust Emissions

Mr. Iain Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if his Department will commission research and development into minimising (a) carbon dioxide emissions and (b) general environmental impacts caused by commercial aircraft engines. [140604]

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Gillian Merron: Government are committed to ensuring that effective policy development and environmental action relies upon sound research, evidence and knowledge transfer. This is why we are investing in initiatives such as the new knowledge transfer network called OMEGA (Opportunities for Meeting the Environmental Challenge of Growth in Aviation). OMEGA defines specific areas where work is needed, facilitates inter-disciplinary research and supports strategic longer-term thinking. A number of other collaborative research programmes funded through the DTI collaborative research mechanism are set to deliver improvements. These include the £95 million Environmentally Friendly Engine programme. I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Minister for Industry and the Regions on 18 June 2007, Official Report, column 1492W.

Government are also supporting work from the aviation industry. We welcomed the Sustainable Aviation initiative, launched in June 2005, which aimed to place sustainability at the forefront of the sector’s strategic planning. The Government also welcomed the Advisory Council for Aeronautics Research in Europe (ACARE), which adopted stretching European targets for environmental performance of new aircraft and engines by 2020. These include reducing the fuel consumption and hence carbon emissions by 50 per cent., relative to new aircraft in the year 2000, with 20-25 per cent. savings from airframe developments, 15-20 per cent. from the engines and 5-10 per cent. from improved air traffic management.

On an international level the UK is playing an important role and is contributing to a number of work streams in the Committee for Aviation Environmental Protection under the auspices of the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

The Government intend that the initiatives such as those mentioned above will improve our evidence base on aviation science, technology, operations and economic issues in ways that will help deliver improved environmental performance and longer term sustainability.

Aviation: Northern Ireland

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many near misses were recorded over Northern Ireland airspace in the last 12 months; and how many related to flights into or out of (a) Belfast International, (b) Belfast City and (c) Londonderry airports. [143818]

Gillian Merron: During the period from 1 June 2006 to 31 May 2007, three Airprox incidents in airspace over Northern Ireland were reported to the independent UK Airprox Board (UKAB) for investigation and assessment.

One of these Airprox is reported to have involved one aircraft operating into Belfast International airport, the other aircraft being outbound from Belfast City airport. This Airprox remains subject to assessment by the UKAB following which the findings will be published both on the UKAB's website at and subsequently in hardcopy.

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Aviation: Security

Mr. Wilshire: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what Government policy is on the adoption of harmonised aviation security regulations across Europe as defined in EC Regulation 2320/2002. [143348]

Gillian Merron: The UK was a strong advocate of the establishment of baseline security requirements across the European Union, and supports the principle of harmonisation for the benefits it can bring for travellers and industry. It is important however that member states are able to require additional aviation security measures in their own territory, where they judge this necessary for the proper protection of aviation interests and passengers.

Mr. Donohoe: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) when he next plans to assess the basis for the restrictions on the number of pieces of carry-on luggage allowed for passengers departing from UK airports; [143157]

(2) when he last assessed the basis for the restrictions on the number of pieces of carry-on luggage allowed for passengers departing UK airports; [143185]

(3) when he expects the restrictions on the number of pieces of hand luggage for airline passengers to be amended or removed. [143239]

Gillian Merron: The current security regulations remain under constant review. It is not possible to state when further adjustments might be made to the measures that apply to cabin baggage. However we have made clear throughout our readiness to remove the one bag limit once industry—collectively—is confident of its ability to deliver security effectively without it.

Blue Badge Scheme: Misuse

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of the level of abuse of the blue badge scheme, with particular reference to (a) the incidence of theft of blue badges, (b) misuse by people not entitled to have blue badges and (c) misuse by family members when the badge holder is not present. [142486]

Gillian Merron: The Department for Transport is working with the Home Office and local agencies to improve data collection and promote good practice in this area.

The Department is committed to tackling all Blue Badge misuse as signalled by a three month, strategic review of the scheme, which will report in September 2007. This will culminate in the production of a comprehensive Blue Badge Reform Strategy by April 2008.

Bus Services: Concessions

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) who will administer the national off peak free bus travel scheme for pensioners and disabled people; [143994]

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(2) what the expected start date is for the introduction of the national off peak free bus travel scheme for pensioners and disabled people; [143995]

(3) from which budget the national off peak free bus travel scheme for pensioners and disabled people will be funded; [143996]

(4) what eligibility conditions for travel will be in place for the national off peak free bus travel scheme for pensioners and disabled people. [143997]

Gillian Merron: As announced in the 2006 Budget the national bus concession will be introduced in April next year (the exact date will be decided in due course). Eligibility on age or disability grounds will be the same as for the current statutory concession—people aged 60 and over, or who come under one of the seven categories of disability listed in the Transport Act 2000, will qualify.

Guidance to local authorities on eligibility for disabled people was published in 2001 and updated in 2005 (copies have been placed in the Libraries of the House). The Department is looking to re-issue this guidance later in the year following consultation with its Concessionary Fares Working Group.

An eligible person, on the presentation of a pass, will be entitled to travel for free on any local bus service in England from 9.30am to 11pm on weekdays and at any time at weekends and Bank Holidays.

The responsibilities for administering the concession—assessing eligibility, issuing passes, reimbursing the bus operators and enforcement—will rest with the existing travel concession authorities (TCAs). These are shire districts, unitary authorities, the Passenger Transport Executives in the metropolitan areas, and the London boroughs (we expect the London councils to administer the concession on behalf of the boroughs). The Concessionary Travel Bill currently before Parliament includes an order making power to change the tier of local government at which the concessionary fares is administered in the future, for example from shire districts to county councils.

TCAs can voluntarily enter into joint arrangements with other authorities e.g. a county council could administer the scheme on behalf of its districts. The Department is keen to see such arrangements, due to the administrative efficiencies.

The Concessionary Travel Bill will require the TCA to issue passes to those people that qualify, on age or disability grounds, who appear to have their ‘sole and principal' residence in the TCA.

The extra funding (up to £250 million per year) will either be distributed via the formula grant system (as is the case for current funding of mandatory concession) or specific grant. A decision on the funding route will be made in due course.

Buses: Safety

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the impact of bus design on the risk of injuring pedestrians. [143408]

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Gillian Merron: No specific assessment has been made but the Department is reviewing two related areas. The first review will identify the key safety issues with large passenger, goods and agricultural vehicles, and suggest cost-effective proposals to address them. The second review will improve our understanding of the nature, and underlying causes of trends in pedestrian accidents involving large passenger and goods vehicles.

The reports are expected to become available in the autumn, for consideration of appropriate further action.


Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to encourage the use of cycles (a) to and from workplaces and (b) within local communities; and if he will make a statement. [144057]

Mr. Tom Harris: Cycling England, the Government's advisory body on cycling, is tasked with getting more people cycling, more safely, more often. It is working with local authorities and others to promote cycling, focusing on the journey to work and to school. We doubled Cycling England's budget to £10 million last year and launched “Bikeability” cycle training earlier this year. The six cycling demonstration towns with whom Cycling England is working have increased cycle trips by around 30 per cent. in just one year.

Furthermore, the Finance Act 1999 and the Income Tax (Earnings and Pensions) Act 2003 provided a tax exemption for employers to purchase cycles for their employees to commute to work. In June 2005 the Department issued guidance and assisted in the establishment of a group consumer credit licence for all UK businesses to allow them to implement the scheme up to a value of £1,000 per cycle. We understand from the scheme providers that approximately 70,000 people have benefited from the scheme to date.

Since 1999, we have also sought to mainstream the use of workplace travel, planning to reduce car use and increase sustainable travel such as cycling through guidance and pump priming funding for local authority employed travel plan officers. In February 2007 we set up the National Business Travel Network to enable businesses to share their experiences of travel planning with a view to promoting wider take-up of sustainable workplace travel.

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