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Mrs. Villiers: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport pursuant to the answer of 10 December 2009, Official Report, column 544W, on road salting and gritting, when he plans to publish his Department's response to the report of the UK Roads Liaison Group on the preparedness of highway authorities for extreme weather events. 
Mr. Khan: A written statement was made to Parliament on 15 December 2009, Official Report, columns 122-24WS outlining the Department for Transport's response to the report of the UK Road Liaison Group on highway authorities' preparedness for extreme weather events. This was also published on the Department for Transport's website at:
Mrs. Villiers: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what discussions he has had with the (a) Highways Agency and (b) Salt Union on the distribution of salt to the Highways Agency and local authorities since 9 February 2009. 
(a) Both during February 2009 and immediately following the winter season, a number of discussions were held between the Department for Transport and the Highways Agency to discuss issues arising from the winter and to contribute to the related Transport Select Committee (TSC) hearing and other related events requiring briefing information. Following the TSC hearing, the UK Roads Liaison Group led a review into the severe weather of February 2009, comprising input from the Highways Agency, salt suppliers and the Department for Transport, as well as local authority representation. Discussions between the Department for Transport and Highways Agency were held in both carrying out the review and compiling the subsequent report. Department for Transport Ministers have also had a number of discussions with the Highways Agency to discuss winter resilience, including the distribution of salt.
Mrs. Villiers: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what agreements are in place between the Highways Agency and local authorities for the provision of assistance to authorities which require additional salt stocks during extreme weather conditions. 
[holding answer 7 January 2010]: During periods of severe weather, requests for additional salt stocks from another highway authority (commonly known as mutual aid) are considered on an individual basis.
Consideration is given to the criticality of salt stock levels of both the requesting and potential providing authority together with the current weather being experienced. Where possible the Highways Agency will provide mutual aid assistance to other authorities, where this will not impact on the agency's treatment of its network.
Mrs. Villiers: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport with reference to the answer of 23 February 2009, Official Report, column 859W, on roads: snow and ice, how many snow ploughs the Highways Agency has bought since February 2009; and how many it intends to buy in the next 12 months. 
Mr. Khan [holding answer 7 January 2010]: Since February 2009, the Highways Agency has purchased a total of 188 salt spreaders, all with snow plough attachments, with a further 90 due to be purchased in the next 12 months. This will complete the winter fleet replacement.
Mrs. Ellman: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what progress has been made in implementing the proposals of the UK Roads Liaison Group in relation to severe winter weather; and if he will make a statement. 
The UK Road Liaison Group (UKRLG) report contains 19 recommendations. Most of the recommendations are addressed to local highway authorities and salt suppliers. It will be for these organisations to decide how best to adopt the recommendations.
Four recommendations were specifically addressed to this Department and the Highways Agency. My written statement of 15 December 2009, Official Report, columns 122-24WS advised what action had been taken by this Department and the Highways Agency consistent with those recommendations. These recommendations have been adopted.
Norman Baker: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport if he will take steps to ensure that local highway authorities are fully compensated by utility companies for the additional maintenance costs incurred as a result of activities by those companies. 
Mr. Khan: Companies carrying out works in the street have a legal duty to reinstate roads to the condition they were in before works began. Compliance with this duty will minimise any need for additional maintenance by the highway authority.
Highway authorities are responsible for enforcing this duty. They may inspect reinstatements, and if they find them to be inadequate, they have powers to require the undertaker to carry out the reinstatement again to the correct standard. If undertakers fail to comply, the authority may carry out the necessary works and recover the costs reasonably incurred by them doing so.
Standards for reinstatements are set out in the statutory Specification for Reinstatement of Openings in the Highway Code of Practice. The Department for Transport intends to publish revised and updated guidance in April this year.
Mr. Khan: In order to offer a private hire vehicle (PHV) service lawfully in England (outside London), the operator, the driver and the vehicle must be licensed by the relevant local authority under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976. It is a matter for local licensing authorities to ensure vehicles are licensed in the correct manner, to make assessments of the extent of illegal operation in their area and take appropriate enforcement action where necessary. We do not keep a central record of any such assessments. The Department for Transport issues guidance to local authorities in this respect.
Mr. Khan: Procurement of traffic lights is a matter for individual highways authorities. The Department for Transport has made no estimate of the cost of replacing all tungsten halogen traffic lights with light emitting diodes.
Light emitting diode (LED) traffic lights can offer significant energy savings and we are keen for highway authorities to take advantage of their potential. The supply industry and UK highway authorities are working to address the remaining technical and economic issues, and so achieve greater adoption of such lights.
Norman Baker: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what the outcome was of the December EU Transport Council, with particular reference to the discussions on intelligent transport systems; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Khan: The December Transport Council took place during the recess. I therefore reported on the outcome of the Council, including the outcome of discussions on intelligent transport systems, in a letter to the Hon. Chairman of the European Scrutiny Committee. The text of that letter is as follows:
"I attended the second Transport Council of the Swedish Presidency, in Brussels on 17 December.
The Council reached a Political Agreement on a Regulation on the rights of passengers in bus and coach transport. The Regulation aims to make bus and coach transport more attractive, particularly to disabled people and people with reduced mobility; and to create a level playing field across Europe, both between operators and different modes of transport. I was one of several Ministers to maintain reservations on the scope, asking for the Regulation to apply only to long-distance national and international services. Some other Member States argued strongly for widening the scope. The Presidency offered a compromise of removing the compensation and assistance provisions from the application to urban, suburban and regional services. This means that the only provisions from which Member States would not be able to exempt such services would be those requiring that ticket prices and conditions must be offered without any discrimination based on nationality or the place of establishment of the carrier, and that there must be no discrimination on grounds of disability or reduced mobility with regard to booking a journey or boarding a vehicle. This compromise was acceptable to all, and on this basis I accepted the text of the Political Agreement.
The Council agreed a General Approach on the proposal for an amending Regulation on the establishment of structures for the management of the European satellite radio-navigation programmes. The text of the General Approach was acceptable to the UK.
There was a Progress Report on a Directive on the deployment of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS). I joined some other Ministers in opposing mandatory deployment. We only support the further deployment of ITS where there is a sound business case for doing so in pursuit of our transport goals. I expressed the UK view that such decisions should be for Member States, and my understanding that nothing in this Directive prejudices that right. We will continue to regard this as critical in discussions on any future proposals. The Presidency hoped that the Directive could be adopted as soon as possible during the New Year and that agreement will be reached with the European Parliament.
There was also a Progress report on a proposed Directive on aviation security charges. The UK will continue to work towards achieving a fair and proportionate outcome that balances the interests of passengers and airports.
The Council reached a General Approach on a Directive on reporting formalities for ships arriving in and/or departing from EU ports. The Directive seeks to facilitate maritime transport by simplifying administrative procedures for ships travelling between EU ports by the introduction of streamlined electronic reporting. I stated that the UK still has some concerns relating to the consistency of the Directive with our e-Borders system. We will seek to see these resolved at a later stage of the negotiating process.
The Council was unable to agree to the draft Conclusions on the Commission's Communication "A sustainable future for transport: Towards an integrated, technology-led and user friendly system".
Following the debate therefore, the Presidency issued Conclusions to be used to provide a steer to the Commission on priorities for the next EU Transport White Paper, which is due in 2010.
The Council adopted a Decision authorising the Commission to negotiate an agreement with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), providing a general framework for enhanced cooperation, with priority given to aviation safety issues in the first instance. We welcome this development. The Presidency made clear that the Decision does not affect relations between individual Member States and ICAO, nor does it affect the arrangements for preparing Community positions for meetings of the ICAO Council.
There was a Progress Report from the Commission on the negotiation of a second stage air transport agreement with the US. I joined some others in suggesting that the next Transport Council should review progress and consider any new US proposals, particularly on the key issue of investment reform. The Council took note of the state of play, confirmed the importance of reaching a deal in 2010, and noted signs of progress in some areas, but stressed the need for significant progress in other areas (including investment reform and the environment).
Under AOB, the Commission informed the Council that the outcome of the Galileo procurement process would be announced in a few months time."
Chris Mole: This information is not collated at route level by the Department for Transport. Network Rail is the custodian of the railway infrastructure, including stations. The Department for Transport defined the strategy and outputs required from the upgrade of the West Coast Main Line, while funding for the works was provided by Network Rail. The hon. Member should, therefore, contact Network Rail's Chief Executive at the following address for a response to his question:
90 York Way
London, N1 9AG.
Mr. Morley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the merits of implementing the European Commission's proposal for a voluntary community animal welfare label for the purposes of standardising labelling of food with animal welfare information. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: The EC has outlined a number of options for animal welfare labelling in a recently published report 'Options for animal welfare labelling and the establishment of a European network of Reference Centres for the protection and welfare of animals'. Our approach to welfare labelling will be guided by general principles which we are developing with the EC.
Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Hereford of 7 December 2009, Official Report, columns 6-7W, on animal welfare: circuses, what source was referred to in the Answer as the findings of the first element; when those findings were discussed with (a) animal welfare representatives and (b) industry organisations; and which organisations participated in those discussions. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: The source referred to in the answer of 7 December, the first element of the Circus Feasibility Study, was the report and recommendations of the two zoo licensing inspectors who visited two circuses while travelling, and one at their winter quarters.
The wider findings of the circus feasibility study were discussed on 26 October with animal welfare organisations, including representatives from the RSPCA, Animal Defenders International, Captive Animals Protection Society and the Born Free Foundation. A similar meeting took place with representatives from the circus industry, including Performing Animal Welfare Standards International, Circus Mondao, Bobby Roberts Super Circus and the Great British Circus on 22 October.
Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of implementation in the UK of the Biodiversity Action Plan. 
Huw Irranca-Davies: We measure the effectiveness of implementation of the UK Biodiversity Action Plan through the UK Biodiversity Indicators. This was reported in the National Statistics publication 'Biodiversity Indicators in Your Pocket 2007', which was updated most recently in April 2009.
Overall, 23 (72 per cent.) of the 32 measures that comprise the UK Biodiversity Indicators are 'improving' or show 'little or no overall change' since the year 2000. In particular, 89 per cent. of Sites of Special Scientific Interest are in favourable or recovering condition, agri-environment schemes are leading to significant improvements, and people are spending a lot more time volunteering on biodiversity conservation projects.
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