Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Minutes of Evidence

Supplementary memorandum by the Minister for Transport (AP 02)

  When I appeared before the Transport Sub-Committee on 12 December 2001, I promised various additional information on a number of points, notably:

    —  PPG13—Car parking space requirements.

    —  Recent trends of bicycle purchases.

    —  Proportion of new homes to be car-free developments.

    —  Whether Inland Waterways were included in the 2000-01 Annual report.

    —  The sources of congestion reduction.

    —  Rail passenger increase target.

    —  Clarification of transport model figures.

    —  DTLR understanding of the role of fuel prices can have in reducing traffic growth.

  I attach the required clarifications. I trust that this additional information will prove satisfactory. I will be happy to clarify further any of the answers given.

1.  Why the Government relaxed the maximum parking space requirements for commercial developments in the final version of PPG13?

  PPG13 was issued in October 1999 as a consultation draft, seeking views on the proposals. We received a wide range of responses, raising some important issues that we needed to ensure we had taken fully into account. In the final version of PPG13, modifications were made to the maximum parking standards and the way they are applied to take account of concerns expressed by business and to ensure that the guidelines help promote investment in town centres.

2.  Recent trends of bicycle purchase in the UK

  At the moment the bicycle trade does not have a mechanism for accurately and regularly measuring bike sales. However, rough estimates by trade associations suggest that, while sales over the last five years have shown an increasing trend, during the past year sales have fallen by approximately 15 per cent.

3.  What proportion of the new homes forecast to be built by 2016 will be car-free developments?

  The Government's planning policies for housing (set out in PPG3) require local authorities to revise their parking standards to allow for significantly lower levels of off-street parking provision in new development than has been the case in recent years. Developers are no longer expected to provide more car parking than they or potential occupiers might want, nor to provide off-street parking when there is no need, particularly in urban areas where public transport is available or where there is a demand for car-free housing.

  PPG3 expects parking policies to be framed with good design in mind, recognising that car ownership varies with income, age, household type and the type of housing and its location. Local planning authorities are encouraged to allow housing developments with limited or no off-street car parking in areas with good public transport accessibility and where effective on-street parking control is present or can be secured.

  We do not have estimates of how many homes are expected to be provided in car-free developments but PPG3 points out that car parking standards that result, on average, in development with more than 1.5 off-street car parking spaces per dwelling are unlikely to reflect the Government's emphasis on securing sustainable residential environments.

4.  Why Inland Waterways were not included in the year 2000-01 Annual Report when they were still the responsibility of the then DETR

  Inland Waterways were covered in the 2001 Annual Report on page 72, paragraphs 3.93 to 3.97.

  My Department will continue to be closely involved so far as the transport role of Inland Waterways is concerned. The transport potential of waterways was addressed in the policy documents "Sustainable Distribution : a Strategy" published in 1999 and "Waterways of Tomorrow", published in 2000 as "daughter documents" of the Integrated Transport White Paper.

  The 10 Year Plan for Transport included the aim of increasing the proportion of water-borne freight and identified the potential for increased traffic on some of our larger navigable rivers and canals, as well as the tidal stretches of our major rivers. It also set out the intention to enhance the existing freight facilities grant scheme covering Inland Waterways and to extend it to cover short sea shipping. My Department remains responsible for administering that scheme, which is funded through the resources allocated in the 10 Year Plan, as well as for ports and shipping policy generally.

5.  What proportion of congestion reduction comes from urban pricing schemes (congestion charging and workplace parking levy) and what proportion comes from expansion of the existing road network?

  In the supporting analysis to the 10 Year Plan, we published some analysis of the impacts of the individual Plan components. This showed the impact of trunk road investment but included charging schemes as part of the local transport measures. We have therefore undertaken some additional analysis of the effect of these schemes.

  Our analysis showed that, if other Plan measures were in place, the Plan's investment in the trunk road network could contribute a further reduction in congestion of up to 10 per cent of the total vehicle hours saved by the Plan.

6.  For the 50 per cent increase in rail passengers, what proportion of the increase is entirely new trips and what proportion is derived from mode shift?

  In preparing the 10 Year Plan, our analysis forecast that rail demand would increase by 28 per cent over the period 2000-10 as a result of external factors such as economic growth. All this increase was assumed to be new trips.

  Of the additional 22 per cent growth to be generated by rail specific factors such as changes in fares, service quality improvements and enhancements to the network, some two-thirds was estimated to come from car users switching to rail, except for London commuter routes where the figure is one-third.

7.  Could you please clarify that the modelling figures presented in the Plan correspond to the same start date as the financing of the Plan (May 2001)

  The transport model used a base year of 2000.[1] This provided the base conditions against which to assess the plan. The start date for the investment plan was April 2001.

  The model 2000 run assumes no 10 Year Plan spending. The run for 2010 assumes all relevant plan spending has come into effect. In other words, the precise dates of investment are not used in the modelling, only their impacts at the end of the plan period.

  The difference, in terms of transport impacts, between the calendar years used in the modelling and the financial years used in the investment plan are minimal in terms of the level of precision at which the model works.

8.  Whilst the Treasury is the lead department concerning fuel taxation, please can you indicate the Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions understanding of the role that fuel prices can have in reducing traffic growth

  DTLR recognises that fuel prices (of which fuel duty comprises the largest proportion) have an influence on vehicle traffic. Higher fuel prices will increase the cost of vehicle travel per kilometre and can therefore be used as a tool to reduce traffic growth. There is evidence that the increases in fuel prices from 1996 to 2000 did reduce traffic growth during this period.

  This relationship between fuel price and traffic levels can be expressed as an "elasticity"[2]. For the 10 Year Plan, DTLR used a car fuel cost elasticity of -0.23. This means that a 10 per cent increase in car fuel cost per kilometre is expected to lead to a 2.3 per cent reduction in the national total of car kilometres driven. Changes in other relevant variables such as national income and car ownership can alter the relationship between fuel prices and road traffic levels. DTLR's current model also suggests that fuel cost elasticity for HGVs is much smaller (in absolute value) that than for cars.

  The DTLR has recently commissioned two separate reviews of the latest evidence on the impact of fuel costs on traffic so that the models can be updated with the latest available information.

John Spellar

January 2002

1   These were based on the traffic data for 1996, forecasted forward to an average day for 2000-01, as year 2000-01 data was not available when the plan was developed in 2000. The model is currently being updated for the review of the plan, to use data for 2000-01, now that this data is available. Back

2   The change in one variable with respect to change in another. Back

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