§ Mr. Watson
asked the Secretary of State for Transport what progress he has made towards the introduction of quieter heavy vehicles, in the light of his discussions with the United Kingdom's European Community partners.
§ Mrs. Chalker
Quieter lorries are already coming onto our roads as a result of agreement with our European partners to reduce the noise which lorries make. This is part of the Government's comprehensive policy to minimise the impact of lorries on people and the environment.216W
There is now a greater awareness in the European Community of the importance of reducing traffic noise. The noise limit for heavy lorries was lowered in April last year, and a new and more stringent test procedure has been agreed. Together these changes mean that lorries coming onto the road over the next few years will be around 5 decibels quieter. I expect agreement to be reached soon on a further reduction of 4 decibels by the end of the decade and, together with the steps I have already described, this will mean that the permitted noise from new lorries will be little more than half what it was in 1980.
The Government are spending several million pounds on a joint research project with industry to develop and build quiet lorries, quiet diesel engines and quiet components. Contracts have already been let to start this work. It will be substantially complete by 1988. In 1989 all new models of vehicles will have to comply with the tough noise limits we have just agreed, and by 1990 new vehicles coming into use will have to comply with them.