HC Deb 13 July 1995 vol 263 cc708-9W
Mr. Jacques Arnold

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he will publish the draft Noise Insulation Regulations for New Railway Lines; and if he will make a statement. [34569]

Mr. Watts

The Draft Noise Insulation Regulations for New Railway Lines and associated technical memorandum have been laid before Parliament today. The regulations are intended to provide equity of treatment as between those living alongside new railway lines and those living alongside new roads, who are protected by existing noise insulation regulations.

Although I fully expect developers of new railway lines to take all practical measures to reduce railway noise at source, there will inevitably be instances where this may not be possible or cost-effective.

The new regulations will create a duty, in the case of new lines and additional tracks constructed alongside existing lines, to provide insulation, or a grant for the costs of carrying out insulation works, when noise exceeds certain levels. They also give a discretionary power to offer insulation in the case of certain alterations to existing railway lines.

With a number of new railway projects either planned or under construction, it is only fair and proper that people who live alongside these lines should have a similar degree of statutory noise protection that their neighbours living near new roads have benefited from over the last 20 years.

In the case of existing railway lines, which now carry new channel tunnel rail traffic, noise mitigation schemes have been agreed between BR/Railfreight Distribution and Kent and Surrey county councils and the London borough of Bromley. Under these schemes, acoustic barriers are being erected at affected locations alongside existing lines to and from the channel tunnel. They are being jointly funded by the organisations involved, with Government assistance.

I would like to see BR/Railfreight Distribution actively entering into similar agreements with other local authorities whose areas might be similarly affected in future.