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14 Jan 2010 : Column 1070W—continued

Transport

Freight by Water

Mr. Laxton: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport how much funding his Department has provided to Freight by Water in each year since 1993; and how much it plans to provide in 2010-11. [310573]

Paul Clark: Since it was established in 2003, the following sums have been provided to Freight by Water (and its predecessor Sea and Water) as start-up funding and in order to establish the organisation as the UK's Short Sea Shipping Promotion Centre.

Financial year Support

2003-04

120,000

2004-05

120,000

2005-06

120,000

2006-07

120,000

2007-08

120,000

2008-09

120,000

2009-10

80,000


The Department for Transport has undertaken to provide a further £50,000 in 2010-11. In line with the position for other established freight trade bodies, no funding is planned beyond 2010-11.

Inland Waterways: Freight

Mr. Laxton: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what steps his Department is taking to encourage use of inland and coastal waterways for the transportation of goods and materials. [310574]

Paul Clark: The Department for Transport supports the transfer of freight from road to water where it is practical and economically and environmentally sustainable to do so. It does this through three specific grants that aim to purchase the environmental benefits of reducing road freight.

Freight Facilities Grants help to offset the capital cost of providing water and rail freight handling facilities. In return, the grant applicant commits to transferring a specified volume of freight from road to water or rail, through the newly constructed freight handling facility, for a period of up to 10 years.

The Rail Environmental Benefit Procurement scheme, which assists companies with the operating costs associated with running rail freight transport instead of road where rail is more expensive than road, now also covers
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inland waterways transport, and from 1 April 2010 will be replaced by Mode Shift Revenue Support (MSRS) scheme.

Waterborne Freight Grants assist companies with the operating costs, for up to three years, associated with running coastal and short-sea shipping freight services instead of road (where water is more expensive than road).

In addition, the Department has provided £800,000 in start-up funding to Freight by Water and its predecessor Sea and Water since 2003-04, and has undertaken to provide a further £50,000 in 2010-11. It is also promoting the opportunities and benefits for modal shift through the Freight Best Practice programme.

M6: M42

Norman Baker: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what estimate he has made of the average annual consequential carbon dioxide emissions arising from the hard shoulder running schemes on (a) the M6 and (b) the M42. [310142]

Chris Mole [holding answer 11 January 2010]: No estimates have been made of average annual carbon dioxide emissions following the introduction of hard shoulder running on the M6 and M42. Desk studies have been carried out by the Highways Agency, based on a calculation of engine characteristics of vehicles using the pilot scheme on the M42. These have shown that emissions have reduced by 4 per cent. per vehicle as a result of a reduction in stop/start traffic conditions.

Motorways: Accidents

Mrs. Villiers: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what (a) research and (b) trial work his Department has undertaken for the purposes of improving the provision of information to drivers on the motorway network on incidents on their routes in the last five years; and what assessment he made of the outcomes of such work. [309473]

Chris Mole: The Highways Agency has undertaken a number of trials and carried out research regarding a number of its information services. These include:

Traffic England Website

Prior to the new website being launched in April 2009, customer panels were held to test the functionality and understanding of the new site. Following this feedback, changes were made to the design and functionality of the website.

Atlas Professional Website

(A website aimed at professional users such as Travel News Media) The Highways Agency recently carried out an evaluation of this website with users via an online questionnaire. The Agency also asked users for their comments on new functionality that could be offered on this site, which were received positively and this site is due to be refreshed with new functionality later this year.

Variable Message Signs (VMS)

The Agency undertakes National Road Users Satisfaction Surveys on a regular basis which includes questions regarding the accuracy of messages shown on our VMS
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regarding incidents ahead and these results are used to inform improvements to accuracy of messages. In addition, we also seek feedback about whether road users receive sufficient information about incidents and how they receive this information. This is then fed back to our teams to improve the way information is disseminated.

Travel Times on Variable Message Signs (TTVMS)

This service was trialled on sections of the motorway network from July 2006 until September 2007. Following customer surveys the majority of respondents thought showing travel and delay time messages was a good idea, found them useful and easy to read and understand. Following this, TTVMS was implemented across the whole HA network.

Highways Agency Information Points

A Highways Agency Information Point (HAIP) is a real-time system, providing road users with a unique platform for receiving information on the state of the road network ahead. An initial HAIP prototype was trialled at Hopwood Services on the M42 in 2005, following this success further HAIPs were installed across motorway service areas and truck stops. Following research into drivers' reactions to HAIPs, they have now been updated and now contain a non-interactive single display system.

Traffic Radio

Spoken information service trials took place during 2005 and 2007 and this demonstrated the viability of a 'dip in/dip out' radio service providing constantly updated traffic information on a national and regional basis.

CCTV

A partnership trial with two companies, MxData and the BBC was held in 2006. The Highways Agency created two accounts to access the existing HANET service allowing each organisation to take, store and forward images to the public. During the trial period, a report from MxData showed an overwhelming positive response.

Offenders

Chris Huhne: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport how many employees of his Department and its agencies have been convicted of a criminal offence of each type in each year since 1997. [308519]

Chris Mole: The Department for Transport was formed on 29 May 2002 comprising a central Department and seven agencies.

The Driving Standards Agency, Driver and The Vehicle Licensing Agency, The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency, The Highway Agency, The Vehicle Certification Agency and the Government Car and Despatch Agency maintain records of staff convictions. To date, since 2002, 17 employees of these agencies have been convicted of criminal offences. Of these there are 11 recorded convictions for fraud. All of these employees have undergone the appropriate disciplinary procedures, including termination of employment where appropriate.

A further breakdown based on the type of conviction is unavailable because, where figures are fewer than five, it is the Department's policy to withhold details on grounds of individual confidentiality.


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The Department for Transport (centre) and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency do not keep central records of employees' convictions or the offences to which they relate. Details of criminal convictions may appear on an individual's personnel files but such information could be retrieved and provided only at disproportionate cost.

Railway Stations: Parking

Mr. Sanders: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport if he will assess the effect on levels of the use of train services of the level of car parking charges at railway station car parks; and if he will make representations to station management companies to encourage lower car parking fees. [310714]

Chris Mole: Charges for car parks operated by train companies are not assessed or monitored by the Department for Transport. Under the terms of franchise agreements, charges at the majority of station car parks are a matter for the train operator, who has a strong commercial incentive not to discourage rail use. The Department has no contractual powers to mandate the level of car park charges.

Railways: Scotland

Mr. Weir: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what progress his Department has made in assessing the potential for high-speed rail services to Scotland. [311154]

Chris Mole: I refer the hon. Member to my written statement of 14 December 2009, Official Report, columns 63-64WS, which sets out the Government plans for high speed rail in the UK.

Roads: Accidents

Mrs. Villiers: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what research into the effectiveness of traffic policing in reducing numbers of casualties on the roads his Department has commissioned in the last five years [309431]

Paul Clark: In 2007 the Department for Transport published a research report on the development of a database to examine the relationship between road policing activity and accident reduction available at

Roads: Preston

Mr. Hendrick: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what the percentage change in the number of (a) deaths and (b) serious injury as a result of road accidents has been in Preston between 1997 and the most recent year for which information is available. [311071]

Paul Clark: The information requested is shown in the following table:


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Reported killed and seriously injured road casualties Preston d istrict a uthority: 1997 and 2008

1997 2008 Percentage change

Killed

9

9

0

Seriously injured

156

103

-34


Roads: Salt

Mrs. Villiers: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport whether he has approved proposals to amend limits on drivers' hours for the purposes of facilitating the distribution of salt and grit supplies. [310382]

Mr. Khan [holding answer 12 January 2010]: Ministers issued delegated authority prior to the Christmas period on a conditional basis to named senior officials to issue relaxations to the EU drivers' hours rules for the distribution of road salt.

However, a request was not submitted to the Department for Transport by industry until 7 January. A relaxation to the enforcement of the EU drivers' hours rules was issued and notified to stakeholders on the same afternoon under the delegated authority provided to officials.

The driving time limits and duty limits for 'gritters', which fall in scope of the domestic drivers' hours rules, can be automatically suspended in emergency events such as severe and prolonged adverse weather conditions. Local authorities are aware of this provision and are using it, where absolutely necessary, accordingly.

Roads: Snow and Ice

Mrs. Villiers: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what steps he is taking to seek to ensure that disruption to road transportation caused by adverse weather conditions does not lead to fuel shortages in (a) the north of England and (b) the rest of the country. [310554]

Mr. Khan [holding answer 13 January 2010]: On Wednesday 6 January, the Department for Transport convened the Salt Cell-a collaborative task force involving the devolved Administrations, the Highways Agency and local government.

The Salt Cell has been monitoring salt supplies and advising salt suppliers on the priorities for salt distribution to ensure that we keep major routes open across the whole country, including major distribution routes for fuel and food. In particular, it has worked hard with delivery partners to ensure that power stations remain accessible.

The Government have also relaxed enforcement on drivers' hours regulations for drivers involved in the distribution of heating oil and liquid petroleum gas to expedite the delivery of heating and fuel supplies.

Sittingbourne-Sheerness Railway Line

Derek Wyatt: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what discussions he has had with (a) Network Rail and (b) South East Trains on the closure of the Sittingbourne to Sheerness line. [310653]


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Chris Mole: Ministers at the Department for Transport have had no such discussions and we have no plans to close this line. A bus replacement service has run on a temporary basis during recent severe weather.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Birds: Conservation

Robert Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he plans to take to increase numbers of farmland birds. [310059]

Huw Irranca-Davies: Agri-environment schemes, such as Environmental Stewardship, are one of a number of measures aimed at helping to meet DEFRA's target of reversing the decline in farmland birds by 2020.

Following recommendations from the Review of Progress of Environmental Stewardship (2008), we plan to improve the scheme's delivery of farmland bird habitats by introducing new options, such as extended overwintered stubble, and modifying existing ones. We are also promoting better uptake of options of specific benefit to farmland birds through increased training and information provision for Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) through, for example, Natural England's ELS Training and Information Programme. We have also improved the targeting for Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) for which farmland birds are a key priority and the subject of a number of specific projects promoting HLS across England, such as the South West Farmland Birds Initiative. Implementation of the review recommendations has already begun and further changes will be implemented during 2010.

Natural England has a target to increase the total area of agricultural land in England being managed under agri-environment schemes to 70 per cent. by March 2011. This, in itself, should help deliver increased habitats for farmland birds. Natural England also has a target in 2009-10 to deliver a further 4,100ha of key arable farmland bird options through Environmental Stewardship-a 20 per cent. increase above the March 2008 baseline.

The industry-led voluntary Campaign for the Farmed Environment should help to retain and exceed the environmental benefits provided by former set-aside land. The campaign promotes activities by farmers and land managers to secure environmental benefits in relation to farmland birds, resource protection and biodiversity provision. It includes a number of targets for June 2012 which will be of direct benefit to farmland birds, such as doubling the uptake of ELS in-field options, covering 40,000 hectares on top of current levels, and increasing uncropped land by 20,000 hectares from January 2008 levels. Natural England has also recently produced a joint leaflet-Farming for Birds-with the campaign and other partner organisations, such as the RSPB, aimed at improving ELS option selection and location in order to help increase farmland bird populations.


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