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9 July 2007 : Column 1191W

Written Answers to Questions

Monday 9 July 2007

Transport

Cycleways

Mr. Nicholas Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many dedicated cycle routes have been brought into use since 1997. [147152]

Ms Rosie Winterton: These figures are not collected centrally. A cycle route is often made up of a combination of cycle lanes, cycle tracks and the local road network.

Some data on the number of cycle tracks and cycle lanes constructed since 2001-02 are held although they are not complete. Local authorities outside London have reported through their local transport plans they have built the following number of new cycle lanes and cycle tracks:

Total number of cycle lanes and cycle tracks built

2001-02

810

2002-03

991

2003-04

999

2004-05

956

2005-06

(1)744

Total

4,500

(1) 2005-06 data are yet to be audited and from this year the "good" and "excellent" rated authorities do not have to supply the above data.

Similar figures are not available for London boroughs but Transport for London report that 531km of the London Cycle Network+ were completed by May 2006 with a target of 900km due for completion by end 2010.

Departments: Pensions

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many and what percentage of staff in her Department are making additional voluntary contributions to their pensions; and what steps she has taken in the last year to encourage more people to make such contributions. [147340]

Jim Fitzpatrick: 344 members of staff in Department for Transport (1.8 per cent. of the total number of staff employed by the Department) currently make additional voluntary pension contributions through deductions from their pay.

Pension scheme members receive an annual benefit statement showing the pension built up to date, and also a projection of pension on retirement if the member continues in service to scheme pension age. The benefit statement provides details of the civil service pensions website where staff can obtain further
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information, including options for making additional voluntary contributions to boost their pension.

Departments: Sick Leave

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many staff in her Department have taken (a) five or more, (b) four, (c) three and (d) two periods of sick leave of less than five days in the last 12 months. [147052]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The number of staff in the Department for Transport who have taken periods of sick leave of less than five days during the financial year 2006-07 are:

Periods of sick leave Number of staff

5 or more periods

614

4 periods

581

3 periods

1,201

2 periods

2,749


The Department is committed to managing sick absence effectively and continues to look at initiatives to help reduce absence levels. The management process includes early intervention by Occupational Health and conducting return to work interviews with staff.

Driving Offences: Chelmsford

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many people in the West Chelmsford area had nine points on their driving licence at the most recent date for which figures are available. [148080]

Jim Fitzpatrick: This information is not readily available from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Driving Offences: Fines

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much was raised in fines from traffic cameras in (a) the Chelmsford local authority area and (b) Essex in each of the last five years; and how much of those monies was spent on road safety plans in each year. [148077]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The information requested is not available for the Chelmsford local authority area. The audit certificates for the Essex Safety Camera Partnership for the last five financial years outlined in table A show the fine revenue from conditional offer of fixed penalties for offences detected by speed and red light cameras operating under the then National Safety Camera Programme.

Table A
£

2001-02

3,524,120

2002-03

5,672,220

2003-04

5,137,740

2004-05

4,710,300

2005-06

4,732,860


Under the then netting off funding arrangements, safety camera partnerships reclaimed expenditure
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directly attributed to the prevention, detection and enforcement of offences. The amounts reclaimed by the Essex partnership in these financial years is set out in table B. The surplus was returned to the Consolidated Fund.

Table B
£

2001-02

3,179,304

2002-03

5,150,286

2003-04

5,037,293

2004-05

4,622,413

2005-06

4,257,190


Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many people were fined for speeding in (a) Chelmsford local authority area and (b) Essex in each of the last five years. [148079]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The information requested is not available for the Chelmsford local authority area. The information on the number of people fined for speeding in Essex in the last five years for which information is available is set out in the following table and has been provided by the Home Office. This shows all speeding offences in Essex including those detected outside the then National Safety Camera Programme.

Fixed penalty tickets Fines (court proceedings) Total

2000

46,300

2,800

49,100

2001

81,900

6,500

88,400

2002

98,100

12,200

110,300

2003

64,500

7,400

71,900

2004

65,300

6,700

72,000


Exhaust Emissions: Pollution Control

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment she has made of the merits of (a) selective catalytic reduction and (b) exhaust gas recirculation technologies as measures to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions from vehicles. [148041]

Jim Fitzpatrick: Both Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) and Exhaust Gas Recirculation are effective methods for reducing Nitrogen Oxide (NOX) emissions from diesel vehicles. Exhaust Gas Recirculation is effective at low-medium engine load and can deliver moderate reductions in NOX emissions. Selective Catalytic Reduction is effective up to full engine load and can deliver substantial NOX reductions, but at higher cost than Exhaust Gas Recirculation.

Exhaust Gas Recirculation is already widely used on diesel cars and vans. Selective Catalytic Reduction is fitted to the majority of new Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) and buses.

Selective Catalytic Reduction relies on the use of a consumable reagent to reduce NOX. From November 2007, new HGV and bus engines are required to monitor emission control systems and limit engine power in the event of their failing to operate. This is essential to encourage operators to keep the systems
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maintained and the SCR reagent topped up, and so ensure that NOX savings are actually delivered in operation.

The Department for Transport takes into account the capabilities and costs of specific technologies when developing the United Kingdom’s negotiating position on EU vehicle emission standards, but does not prescribe which technology industry should use to meet tighter emissions standards. Our Regulatory Impact Assessment on car and van Euro 5 emissions standards considered both of these technologies and can be found at

The Department is currently examining different potential scenarios for future HGV and bus emissions standards and will consider the future capabilities of both of these technologies in this exercise.

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps her Department is taking to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions from vehicles. [148042]

Jim Fitzpatrick: Legislation to limit the emissions of pollutants from vehicles (including nitrogen oxide emissions) was first introduced in the 1970s. Particularly stringent standards, known colloquially as “Euro 1” were adopted in the early 1990s.

Since then, successive standards have progressively tightened emissions limits with new vehicles currently having to meet Euro 4 standards. The Department for Transport has fully engaged with the European Commission, European Parliament, other member states and stakeholders in developing these standards.

Between 1990 and 2004, these standards reduced the total quantity of oxides of nitrogen emitted from heavy duty vehicles by some 37 per cent. and from light duty vehicles (cars and vans) by 70 per cent.(1)

However despite these reductions nitrogen oxide emissions from road vehicles, in particular diesel vehicles, continue to be an air quality concern in the UK and throughout the EU. For this reason at the end of 2005 the European Commission published a proposal for tighter Euro 5 emissions standards for cars and vans. I am pleased to be able to state that, not only have these standards been recently adopted by the European Council and Parliament, but that the UK also successfully secured a further (Euro 6) round of standards which tighten diesel NOx limits by 68 per cent. compared to current Euro 4 standards. This will put the permitted levels for diesels close to the very low levels of petrol engined vehicles.

We expect the European Commission to come forward with proposals to further tighten heavy duty vehicle emission standards late this year or early next. As usual the Department will fully engage in the negotiation of these standards.

In order to bring forward further improvements in air quality the Government offer financial incentives to purchase vehicles built to more stringent emissions standards in advance of the standards becoming mandatory. The Government offer such incentives through the Reduced Pollution Certificate scheme. This will, from October 2007, offer heavy duty vehicle and bus operators a
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reduction in Vehicle Excise Duty of up to £500 per annum for vehicles which are fully compliant with the next level of standards in advance of their mandatory application in 2009.

Motorways: Closures

Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport for what reason the M1 motorway was closed in both directions in South Yorkshire on 26 June; on whose authority such closure was made; and if she will make a statement. [148004]

Mr. Tom Harris: South Yorkshire police closed the M1 on 26 June between junctions 32 and junctions 34 northbound and junctions 36 and 32 southbound in response to the threat posed by the possible failure of the dam at Ulley reservoir in South Yorkshire.

Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what systems are in place to ensure that motorways are not unnecessarily closed for precautionary reasons when no incident, emergency accident or disaster has taken place; and if she will make a statement. [148005]

Mr. Tom Harris: The safety of our roads and customers who use them is paramount.

For each unique occasion (such as recently on the M1) a full and detailed risk assessment is carried out and supported by consultation and advice taken from all appropriate parties, including the police, fire service, local authorities and the Highways Agency Traffic Officer Service. Consideration is given to all contributory factors to determine the level of potential risk posed to both public and workers' safety should no action be taken. Any full or partial precautionary road closure deemed necessary would follow where the risk to safety is calculated to outweigh the effect of disruption.

National Roads Telecommunications Services Project

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 24 May 2007, Official Report, column 1461W, on the National Roads Telecommunications Services project (NRTS), whether the NRTS will have the capacity to be used for (a) the detection of speeding and issuing of fines, (b) traffic and parking enforcement and (c) road pricing or congestion charging. [146885]

Mr. Tom Harris: The NRTS network has the capacity to support existing speed detection and other traffic enforcement systems as required to implement the Highways Agency's operational regimes such as active traffic management.

No allowance has been made to support road pricing in the current NRTS network capacity calculations. If required, the network capacity could be increased to support such an initiative. However, no decision has been taken on any national road pricing scheme.

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 24 May 2007, Official Report, column 1461W, on the National Roads Telecommunications Services project (NRTS), whether
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the NRTS will interface with the automated number plate recognition infrastructure. [146886]

Mr. Tom Harris: The NRTS solution is flexible enough to connect to a wide range of external devices which could include automated number plate recognition (ANPR).


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