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Solar Electricity

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord Sainsbury of Turville: The Government believe that solar electricity, or photovoltaics, has considerable potential in the long-term, but is unlikely to make a significant contribution to UK electricity supplies in the short term. We are working with industry on increasing their competitiveness, and developing the technology, information and skills which will be needed in the future.

The Department of Trade and Industry has had a solar energy R&D programme for a number of years, as part of the new and Renewable Energy Programme. This has supported a wide range of projects including examination of such issues as standards, grid-connection and architectural integration, and the production of studies on design, installation and monitoring. The budget for the Solar Photovolataics Programme has risen from £0.5 milllion to £2 million over the past five years. Budgets for future years have not yet been decided but they are likely to go on increasing.

In the spring of 1999 the DTI announced three major new PV initiatives:


    (a) a Call for Proposals for PV Components and Systems, with the aim of enhancing the competitiveness of UK companies;


    (b) a Domestic PV Roof Field Trial, to test a variety of actual PV installations under UK conditions; and


    (c) a Large-Scale Building-Integrated PV Demonstration Scheme, to develop best practice and operational experience.

The total value of these three intiatives is expected to be £15 million, with £5 million coming from the DTI's solar energy R&D budget over a number of years. In addition, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council's Renewable and New Energy Technologies Programme of basic research, worth £3.5 million per annum, includes photovoltaics amongst its priorities.

Starter Home Initiative: Key Workers

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What criteria they intend to use in identifying key workers, as outlined in the Housing Green Paper, who may receive preferential treatment.[HL3752]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): The noble Baroness refers to the Starter Home Initiative set out in the Government's Housing Green Paper--Quality and Choice: A Decent Home for All.

The Green Paper seeks proposals on how the initiative could be operated most successfully and cost effectively. During the autumn the Government will announce details of the initiative, including eligibility criteria, in the light of responses to the Green Paper. The consultation period closed at the end of July.

Young Drivers: Penalty Points

Lord Northbrook asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What proportion of car drivers under 18, 19, 20 and 21 have, in each case, had their licence endorsed with at least:


    (a) one penalty point;


    (b) two penalty points;


    (c) three penalty points;


    (d) four penalty points;


    (e) five penalty points; and


    (f) six penalty points.[HL3786]

Lord Whitty: Figures on penalty points for car drivers are not held in the form requested. The information cannot be provided because of the disproportionate cost of extracting the information from the computer record.

HGVs: Overloading

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What estimate they have made of the proportion of heavy goods vehicles operating over their weight limits; and what studies have been undertaken to support these estimates.[HL3778]

Lord Whitty: Of the 64,000 heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) weighed by the Vehicle Inspectorate (VI) in the year to April 2000, 5 per cent were overloaded by 5 per cent or more on either axle or gross weight. But VI weighs vehicles that are likely to be overloaded and this figure is not representative of the HGV fleet as a whole.

Through the Continuing Survey of Road Goods Transport (CSRGT), the Department for the Environment, Transport and the Regions monitors the freight carried by HGVs registered in Great Britain and the proportion of journeys where cargo is limited by weight, as distinct from volume. The CSRGT figures show that in 1999 about 30 per cent of laden HGV journeys involved loads limited by weight. As a proportion of all HGV journeys, this figure would be lower, around 22 per cent.

Rights of Way: Restrictions on Traffic

Lord Hardy of Wath asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will take early action to prevent rights of way, whether footpaths or bridleways, or other old routes established before the development of motor vehicles, from being used by such vehicles.[HL3767]

Lord Whitty: It is already an offence under Section 34 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 to drive a motor vehicle on a footpath or bridleway without lawful authority. The Countryside and Rights of Way Bill amends Section 34 to make it an offence to drive on a restricted byway--the new category of highway introduced by the Bill for walkers, cyclists, horse riders and drivers of horse-drawn vehicles. The Bill also provides that, for the purposes of Section 34, a footpath, bridleway or restricted byway shown on a definitive map is deemed to be such a highway unless prima facie evidence to the contrary is produced. Finally, the Bill extends Section 34 to cover not just motor vehicles but the broader category of mechanically propelled vehicles. It is not the intention of the provisions relating to restricted byways, or those relating to Section 34, to extinguish public rights to drive motor vehicles on highways but the Countryside and Rights of Way Bill extends the grounds on which traffic regulation orders may be made to include landscape and nature conservation.

Vehicle Inspectorate: Enforcement of HGV Regulations

Lord Bradshaw asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many staff were employed by the Vehicle Inspectorate during each of the last five years and what proportion of these have been involved in enforcement duties concerning lorries.[HL3761]

Lord Whitty: The average number of Vehicle Inspectorate employees for each of the last five years and the proportion of those examiners involved in frontline enforcement duties concerning lorries (Heavy Goods Vehicles) is set out in the table below. These are backed up by administrative staff whose support activities cannot easily be broken down by type of vehicle.

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1995-961996-971997-981998-991999-2000
Total Employees1,5591,5821,6331,7261,808
Numbers on HGV enforcement193.7200.7197.1193.2205.3

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Lord Bradshaw asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many lorry weight checks were carried out by the Vehicle Inspectorate and other agencies during the last year for which figures are available between 18.00 hours and 06.00 hours on Mondays to Thursdays.[HL3762]

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Lord Whitty: The Vehicle Inspectorate's "out of hours" data are collected for the period between 19.00 hours to 06.00 hours Mondays to Fridays and the whole of Saturdays and Sundays.

The number of lorries weighed in these periods on Mondays to Fridays is 1,686.

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Lord Bradshaw asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many lorry weight checks were carried out by the Vehicle Inspectorate and other agencies during the last year for which figures are available between 18.00 hours and 06.00 hours on Fridays to Mondays.[HL3763]

Lord Whitty: The Vehicle Inspectorate's "out of hours" data are collected for the period between 19.00 hours to 06.00 hours Mondays to Fridays and the whole of Saturdays and Sundays.

The number of lorries weighed on Saturdays and Sundays is 6,580.

Lord Bradshaw asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many sites in England and Wales would be involved if it were a requirement to weigh the axles of every HGV exceeding 30 tonnes leaving major road freight facilities, ports or premises with a throughput of more than (a) 20,000, (b) 30,000, or (c) 50,000 vehicles a year.[HL3760]

Lord Whitty: The information requested is not held centrally. In the context of Amendment No. 410 to the Transport Bill, DETR officials estimated, after consultation with the industry, that there were at least 100,000 sites in the UK with an annual throughput of 10,000 or more lorries over 7.5 tonnes. This estimate included HGV operating centres, depots, distribution centres, motorway service areas and retail and industrial parks but excluded, for example, construction sites. We have no information other than this. However, in order to give you the fullest response, I have asked DETR officials to again consult with the industry to estimate the number of sites registering the alternative throughputs of vehicles given.

HGVs: Damage to Roads and Bridges

Lord Bradshaw asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the damage impact on road infrastructure of lorry axles weighing 10.5 tonnes, 11.5 tonnes and 12.5 tonnes respectively compared with the average motor car.[HL3764]

Lord Whitty: For both roads and bridges the structural damage caused by the average motor car is negligible. The wear on road pavements from lorries is generally considered proportional to the 4th power of the axle load. Thus, lorry axle loads of 11.5 tonnes and 12.5 tonnes cause about 40 per cent and 200 per cent more wear than a 10.5 tonne axle. A simple relationship for bridges does not exist.

Current design standards for main roads reflect all normally permitted lorries with axle weights up to 11.5 tonnes. The presence of abnormal vehicles with heavier axles including 12.5 tonnes is also allowed for in design and permitted on certain routes but represents only a minor percentage of lorries. Vehicle construction and use regulations aim to minimise wear by defining how the total vehicle weight is transferred to the road avoiding unduly heavy individual axles.

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