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The RTFO’s carbon and sustainability reporting requirements are a necessary first step on the road to linking the issue of certificates with mandatory carbon saving and sustainability requirements. In the light of
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the responses we have received to our earlier consultation on the design of the RTFO and the recent G8 communiqué which reinforces the need to establish international biofuel quality standards and avoid the possible negative side effects of biofuel development, I am today announcing that the Government:

aims to reward biofuels under the RTFO in accordance with the carbon savings that they offer from April 2010, provided that this is compatible with World Trade Organisation rules and EU technical standards requirements, and is consistent with the policy framework being developed by the European Commission as part of the review of the biofuels directive, and subject to consultation on its environmental and economic impacts.

aims to reward biofuels under the RTFO only if the feedstocks from which they are produced meet appropriate sustainability standards from April 2011, subject to the same provisos and consultation as above and subject to the development of such standards for the relevant feedstocks.

will continue to work closely with out partners at a national, European and international level to develop robust standards for ensuring the sustainability of biofuels and to ensure that early consideration is given to the WTO implications of the UK’s policy intentions.

will ask the RTFO Administrator to report to the Secretary of State every three months on the effectiveness of the RTFO’s environmental reporting mechanisms, and on the carbon and sustainability effects of the RTFO. The Government will keep the RTFO under review in the light of these reports.

intends to set stretching indicative targets for the level of carbon and sustainability performance expected from all transport fuel suppliers claiming certificates for biofuels in the early years of the RTFO. These targets, which are included in the consultation paper we are publishing today, cover:

the level of greenhouse gas savings that we expect to see from the biofuels used to meet the RTFO;

the proportion of those biofuels that we expect to come from feedstocks grown to recognised sustainability standards; and

the amount of specific information that we expect to be included in sustainability reports.

has asked the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP) to explore the feasibility of a voluntary labelling scheme to allow responsible retailers to show that their biofuels are genuinely sustainable. Any scheme would need to be compatible with WTO rules.

Moving to mandatory carbon saving and sustainability requirements would require changes to the RTFO Order which, under the Energy Act 2004, would be subject to consultation.

The Government will make a further announcement in due course on how they intend to respond to the other issues that stakeholders have raised in response to the February 2007 consultation on the design and future evolution of the RTFO.

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Rail Franchising (West Midlands)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. Tom Harris): The Department has announced today that London and Birmingham Railway Limited (a subsidiary of Govia) has been awarded the West Midlands franchise. The new franchise will begin on 11 November 2007 and will increase capacity, improve performance and begin the introduction of smartcard technology by 2010.

The West Midlands franchise combines the current Silverlink County services between London Euston and Northampton with the West Midlands local and regional service groups of Central Trains,, The department will pay a subsidy of £1,127 million over the seven-year 10-month franchise.

From December 2008, the franchise will operate new services as a result of extra capacity created by the £8.1 billion upgrade of the West Coast Main Line, including a new hourly semi-fast service between London and Crewe and extra services from Birmingham to Liverpool and Northampton. The franchise also delivers 217 new carriages by April 2010, as part of the Government's 1,000 new carriages on the network. They will replace existing rolling stock which will be freed for use in other parts of the country. The agreement also demands improved performance of 90.7 per cent punctuality by the end of the franchise.

The Government will continue to limit annual rises for regulated fares for the franchise in line with national policy, currently RPI+1 per cent. As with all franchises, unregulated fares are the responsibility of individual operators.

On most routes in the West Midlands franchise area, London and Birmingham Railway Limited proposes to raise such fares by no more than RPI+1 per cent. per annum. However, on the London to Northampton route the operator plans to raise such fares by 3 per cent. over inflation. This change is expected to affect 13 per cent. of total passenger journeys in the franchise area.

A single compensation policy for all passengers will be introduced during replacement rail franchises, commencing with the West Midlands.

With improving Passenger's Charter performance in punctuality and reliability the current discount system means that an increasing number of passengers receive no compensation for delays.

Therefore discounts in renewal for season tickets valid between one month and one year in compensation for poor punctuality and reliability will be replaced by compensation based on delays to individual journeys, known as Delay/Repay. Under the new system, all passengers will be entitled to claim compensation for all delays, whatever their cause:

The changes will also start to standardise disparate compensation arrangements for single, return and weekly season ticket holders on different train operators.

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