HC Deb 11 January 1993 vol 216 cc592-3
5. Mr. Willetts

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what further steps he will take to reduce the levels of noise from motorways.

Mr. Kenneth Carlisle

We are proceeding on two fronts: ever-stricter noise limits on vehicles, together with the practical measures that are available when motorways are improved or constructed. These include noise screening by earthworks and barriers, quieter road surfaces and the provision of insulation.

Mr. Willetts

I welcome the steps that the Department is taking to reduce the level of noise from motorways. However, may I draw to my hon. Friend's attention the notorious roar produced by the experimental concrete surface on the A27 at Havant? Does not that make it a prime candidate for a new experiment, with a quiet noise-absorbent surface?

Mr. Carlisle

I well know the campaign for a quieter A27 that my hon. Friend has waged on behalf of his constituents. Unfortunately, when this road was built with concrete, it was over-textured. However, we are making some improvements to that road and we shall continue to do so.

I was pleased in the summer to announce a new policy on designing roads to ensure that they are less noisy. That entails providing porous asphalt where it will work and that will halve the level of noise. Before Christmas, I was delighted to be able to say that we are going ahead with porous asphalt on the A5 at Fazeley. Wherever possible in future, we shall meet the requirement for less noise. We shall look to better textures wherever we can.

Mr. Roy Hughes

Does the Minister appreciate that many homes are badly affected by motorway noise and that that is certainly the case with the M4 around Newport? Many people seem to be caught out by anomalies in the regulations. Will the Minister look into this to see whether the regulations can be relaxed a little?

Mr. Carlisle

I am happy to look at anything that we can do to improve the situation. As I said, noise is the one sector in which we must do better. I know that many people are concerned about noise when new roads are built. We now have extensive powers for insulation and the Land Compensation Act 1973 provides for compensation to be paid where the value of property declines.

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