Supplementary memorandum from Rt Hon.
Stephen Byers MP, Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government
and the Regions
Departmental Responsibilities for Sustainable
When Alan Whitehead and I gave evidence to the Committee
on 22 November, we undertook to send you some additional information
on a number of topics.
The DEFRA/DTLR "concordat"
With Margaret Beckett's agreement, I enclose a copy
of the exchange of letters between the respective DEFRA and DTLR
Permanent Secretaries on liaison arrangements, which together
comprise the "concordat".
I enclose two papers
which provide the latest air quality emissions data on road transport
and the latest position on CO2 emissions. You should
also note that the latest UK's National Atmospheric Emissions
Inventory (NAEI) 2001 report was published on Monday 10 December.
This included the latest data on emissions available, which is
for 1999 and showed that despite a stable level of transport use,
pollutant levels from road transport have fallen substantially
in recent years. For example, levels of the key road transport-related
emissions, NOx and PM10, fell by 19% and
16% respectively between 1997 and 1999 despite a 1% increase in
passenger kilometres travelled in that period. Road transport
therefore showed a faster rate of reduction in emissions of these
key pollutants than the economy as a whole. Copies of the NAEI
report are available at: http://www.aeat.co.uk/netcen/airqual/index.html
London Underground investment
Under the Government's modernisation plans, provided
that it represents value for money, London Underground will enter
contracts with private sector consortia to maintain and upgrade
the Tube's infrastructure over the next 30 years. These plans
are designed to allow an unprecedented, guaranteed sustained investment
in the core Underground network. It is difficult to undertake
a direct comparison of the level of investment in the London Underground
over the past 15 years, with that which will take place over the
first 15 years of the Tube modernisation plans.
London Underground Limited adopted the mandatory
Financial Reporting Standard (FRS) 15 in 1999, which has seen
some expenditure that previously scored as investment now being
treated as part of the Company's operating costs. In particular,
the standard requires that expenditure previously treated as capital
renewals must now either be charged to cost of operations, or
capitalised as an addition to fixed assets. It should also be
remembered that a large proportion of investment in the 1990's
went into extending the Jubilee Line.
London Transport's Annual Report documents show that,
overall, some £5.5 billion of investment, in cash prices,
was made in the core Underground over the period 1986-87 to 2000-01.
The actual level of investment that will take place over the first
15 years of the Tube modernisation plans will not be known until
the final bids have been received. Based upon calculations previously
undertaken by London Underground's financial advisers, PriceWaterhouse
Coopers, at least £13 billion of investment and maintenance
A more realistic comparison is possible by looking
at levels of average annual investment in the core Underground
network. The estimated average annual investment in the core Underground
during the first 7½ years of the Tube Modernisation contracts
(ie. up to the first review of the contracts) is expected to be
around £800 million. On the same 2001 price basis, the average
annual investment in the core Underground since 1986/87 has been
around £510 million.
You asked for figures on actual Railtrack investment
over the past few years. In the five financial years since it
was privatised in 1996, Railtrack has invested the following amounts
in renewals and enhancement:
||£m (cash) £m (2000/01 prices)
You also asked about the split of future rail investment between
the public sector and the private sector. I mentioned that, for
the ten years 2001/02-2010/11, the Ten Year Plan for Transport
provides for total rail expenditure of £64 billion, comprising
£30 billion of public expenditure and £34 billion of
private sector investment. For reasons I explained to the Committee,
it would be wrong for me to speculate about the level of debt
which might be taken on by the successor to Railtrack. However,
given the amounts allocated in the Ten Year Plan, the increase
in Railtrack's investment over the last five years seems likely
to continue in future years.
Sustainable Development and SR2002
The Committee asked if Departmental Sustainable Development Reports
for SR2002 were to be made publicly available, and I note that
you also raised this point with Margaret Beckett and Paul Boateng.
We have clarified this with Treasury and, as Paul told the Committee
on 5 December, the position is that Sustainable Development Reports
will not be published, as it would not be appropriate to publicly
reveal specific parts of a department's bid.
Alan Whitehead undertook to consider what we could make available
to you in terms of the internal guidance we are following in the
production of our SR2002 bids. I am now pleased to enclose a copy
of the guidance on sustainable development that has been issued
to DTLR line divisions preparing components of our SR2002 bids.
You will wish to note that the guidance is intended to complement
the high-level Treasury guidance to bidding departments on sustainable
development and SR2002 which the Committee has already seen.
Mobile phone masts
I said I would confirm how local planning authorities could consider
public health concerns when considering the siting of a mobile
phone mast. Our revised Planning Policy Guidance on telecommunications
development (PPG8), which was published on 22 August this year,
makes clear that health considerations and public concern can
in principle be material considerations in determining applications
for planning permission and prior approval. Whether such matters
are material in a particular case is ultimately a matter for the
courts. It is for the decision-maker (usually the local planning
authority) to determine what weight to attach to such considerations
in any particular case.
However, it is the Government's firm view that the planning system
is not the place for determining health safeguards. It remains
central Government's responsibility to decide what measures are
necessary to protect public health. In the Government's view,
if a proposed mobile phone base station meets the international
guidelines for public exposure it should not be necessary for
a local planning authority, in processing an application for planning
permission or prior approval, to consider further the health aspects
and concerns about them.
Greening operations policy statement
Finally, the Department's Memorandum to the Committee mentioned
that we were shortly to issue a greening operations policy statement.
This has now been published on the DTLR website at http://www.dtlr.gov.uk/about.htm
11 December 2001
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