HC Deb 26 November 1997 vol 301 cc554-5W
Dr. Starkey

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) in what way the Department's research priorities have been modified in response to Technology Foresight; [17466]

(2) what Technology Foresight priorities are being taken into account in the forward planning of the Department's scientific research programme. [17465]

Angela Eagle

My Department is represented on the Panels dealing with Natural Resources and Environment (NRE), Construction, Marine and Transport. The process by which the Department's research priorities are established takes place in parallel with the Panel's own priority-setting process. Foresight informs a broad range of priorities within the Department, including specific programmes. We consider all relevant Foresight priorities during the planning process, and modify research requirements accordingly.

For example, the Department has embedded many Foresight findings within the Construction Research and Innovation Business Plans. The Business Plans and their Key Priorities set the agenda for the Department's future involvement in construction research and innovation. This includes a new LINK Programme, "Meeting Clients' Needs Through Standardisation", funded by the Department and the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC). The Department is also helping the Panel to follow up its recommendations on the social and environmental impacts of construction by funding research into indicators of sustainable construction.

Similarly, the Department has responded to the Transport Panel's principal recommendations for three projects aimed at nurturing the developments necessary to improve transport in the key areas of efficiency and the environment. The Department is funding a programme co-ordinator for the Clear Zones programme and, with EPSRC, the Economic and Social Research Council and DTI we are sponsoring the Inland Surface Transport LINK programme, in large part designed to support research relevant to the Panel's recommendations related to mode-specific and generic technologies and transport systems. The Transport Panel is currently considering the technological aspects of integrated transport.

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