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Mr. Hill: The Ten Year Transport Plan published on 20 July last year contained provisions for expenditure on the strategic and local road networks of over £59 billion over the course of the next decade. £4 billion has already been allocated to roads in the December local transport settlement, including £1 billion to fund 39 new major road improvements and a doubling of capital maintenance to £535 million.
Mr. Hill: The Transport Act 2000 makes provisions about Home Zones in England and Wales which will come into effect on 1 February 2001. Local traffic authorities will have a specific power to designate home zones in their area. They will also be able to make orders about the use of the roads and about speed reduction measures in home zones, subject to regulations to be made by the Secretary of State (for England) or the National Assembly (for Wales). We shall consult in due course about the nature and scope of the regulations to be made for England, and about guidance to local authorities.
Mr. St. Aubyn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what steps he will take to ensure that, in the design and planning of waste incinerators proposed for Guildford, Capel and Redhill, account will be taken of the need (a) to ensure the health and safety of those at risk and (b) to quantify the degree of risk in each case by a properly conducted risk analysis; and if he will publish in full such analyses by dates announced in advance. 
Mr. Meacher [holding answer 19 December 2000]: The risks and effects of new incineration plants are considered under the EU Environmental Impact Assessment Directive, as set out in the "Government Response to the 11th report of the House of Lords Select Committee on the European Communities--Waste Incineration".
In addition, all such new incinerators require a permit from the Environment Agency under the Pollution Prevention and Control Act 1999 or Part I of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 before they can operate. As part of the permit application, the Agency would normally require an environmental and health impact assessment that identified and quantified the emissions and exposure pathways. The assessment would
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be expected to compare the modelled emissions data to nationally and internationally recognised standards set by independent bodies such as the World Health Organisation or the Government's Expert Panel on Air Quality Standards.
All environmental and health impact assessments are closely scrutinised by the Agency and comments are sought from statutory consultees such as the local health authority. If the permit application demonstrated that there would be unacceptable risks to the environment or to human health as a result of releases, it would not be approved. All permit applications are placed on a public register except for any information determined to be commercially confidential. In addition, for all application decisions under the 1999 Act and for all incinerator
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Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what the total sale prices were of the British Rail infrastructure companies at the time of privatisation; and how many staff were employed by them. 
Mr. Hill: The table lists the gross proceeds received from sales of each of the British Rail infrastructure companies and the number of staff employed by each company at the end of the last complete British Railways Board 4-weekly reporting period before sale.
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|Company||Gross proceeds £ million cash||Number of staff employed|
|Scotland Track Renewals Co. Ltd.||10.7||284|
|Scotland Infrastructure Maintenance Co. Ltd.||27.5||2,491|
|Central Track Renewals Co. Ltd.||2.9||635|
|Western Infrastructure Maintenance Co. Ltd.||15.0||2,409|
|Eastern Track Renewals Co. Ltd.||11.0||600|
|Eastern Infrastructure Maintenance Co. Ltd.||29.7||2,162|
|South East Infrastructure Maintenance Co. Ltd.||20.3||3,548|
|Southern Track Renewals Co. Ltd.|
|South West Infrastructure Maintenance Co. Ltd.||11.0||2,190|
|Central Infrastructure Maintenance Co. Ltd.||18.8||3,826|
|Northern Infrastructure Maintenance Co. Ltd.||9.0||3,131|
|Northern Track Renewals Co. Ltd.||4.6||516|
|Western Track Renewals Co. Ltd.||8.5||437|
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Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how the principle of using best available techniques not entailing excessive cost is applied to crematoriums in the UK. 
Mr. Hill [holding answer 15 January 2001]: Statutory guidance on the application of this principle to crematoriums was issued by the Secretary of State in 1991 and revised in 1995. The guidance was published by HMSO. A further review of the guidance is now in progress, in consultation with relevant interest groups. Under section 7(11) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, local authority regulators are required to have regard to such guidance.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what the findings of recent ambient air quality surveys have been concerning the level of airborne mercury particles near crematoriums; and how, and at what level, such pollutants may become a danger to health. 
Mr. Hill [holding answer 15 January 2001]: My Department has carried out a one year study measuring mercury particle and vapour concentrations near a crematorium site at Sutton Coldfield. That study ended in December 2000. Results so far indicate that annual mean concentrations of mercury particles are likely to be less than 0.1ng/m 3 (nano-grams per cubic metre), and often below the limit of detection, while concentrations of mercury vapour are around 3.0ng/m 3 .
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Mercury is a toxic substance. The National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory estimate is that, while total national mercury emissions have reduced from 47 tonnes in 1970 to 12.6 tonnes in 1997, crematoriums now account for 11 per cent. of total emissions. It has not been established that there is a level at which there is no toxicological effect.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what financial assistance is available to (a) private and (b) local authority crematoriums which experience difficulty in financing the purchase and installation of new equipment required by legislation. 
Mr. Hill [holding answer 15 January 2001]: In line with the polluter pays principle, there is no specific funding to secure compliance with environmental protection legislation. The operators of crematoriums are expected to meet any such costs themselves, such as through the cremation fees they charge.
Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) if he will list the number of British crematoriums which do not conform to standards on emission of heavy metals laid down by existing international agreements; 
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(3) if he will estimate the costs of modifying British crematoriums to ensure that they conform to international obligations concerning the emission of heavy metals. 
Mr. Hill [holding answer 15 January 2001]: There are no international agreements which specifically require the setting of emission limits for heavy metals from crematoriums or the making of modifications to crematoriums. But without specifying the sources from which emissions reduction must be secured, commitments to reduce heavy metals are or may be included in the hazardous substances strategy of the Oslo and Paris Commission, the Heavy Metals Protocol to the UN Economic Commission for Europe Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution, and in the work being undertaken to draw up daughter directives to set limit values for concentrations of various pollutants in ambient air under the EU Air Quality Framework Directive.
Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has to issue new guidelines to British crematoriums in respect of emissions of heavy metals. 
Mr. Hill [holding answer 15 January 2001]: We are currently undertaking a second periodic review of all the statutory guidance for processes regulated by local authorities under Part I of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 in consultation with interested organisations. The review of the crematoriums guidance is addressing emissions of heavy metals among other issues. It is intended to issue revised guidance when the review is complete.
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