HC Deb 07 February 1990 vol 166 cc651-2W
Mr. Robert G. Hughes

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he has recently taken any initiatives to combat the environmental problems caused by lorries in residential areas and town centres.

Mr. Atkins

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced on 23 January the publication of two documents that address the environmental problem lorries can cause in residential areas and town centres. "Lorries in the Community" and the "Lorries and Traffic Management" manual were published following a lorry management study co-sponsored by my Department, the Civic Trust and the County Surveyors Society. Copies of these documents are in the House Libraries.

One of the aims of the trunk road programme is to improve the environment by removing through traffic from unsuitable roads in towns and villages. Since 1979, over 100 bypasses and relief roads have been completed. There are over 150 bypasses and relief roads in the current programme. Other roads also have a bypassing effect.

New limits on the harmful gases which can be emitted by all kinds of vehicles have now been agreed in Europe. They are being introduced during the early 1990s. A second stage of limits is going to be discussed later this year. Limits will be set on particulates as well as on gaseous emissions. This means that in the future we can look forward to lorries and cars which are much cleaner.

New rules will mean that the noise from the heaviest lorries will almost have been halved during the last decade. The European Commission is now working on further proposals for tighter vehicle noise limits. The Quite Heavy Vehicle 90 project has also been undertaken. This has been a collaborative partnership between industry, Government and research organisations to develop techniques to reduce noise from heavy lorries. The project included research into developing quieter engines, exhaust system panels and the enclosures around engines.