HC Deb 24 February 1998 vol 307 cc140-1W
Mr. Llew Smith

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what reviews are being, or have recently been, conducted governing the adequacy of the safety arrangements for the import and export of dangerous and toxic substances(a) by air, (b) by ship and (c) via the Channel Tunnel. [31023]

Ms Glenda Jackson

(a) United Kingdom legislation requires dangerous goods (which include toxic substances) carried by air to be in compliance with the International Civil Aviation Organization's Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air. These Instructions are subject to a biennial review and amendment cycle, and the United Kingdom provides a member for the Panel which carries this out. The Civil Aviation Authority is satisfied that there are adequate and up-to-date safety arrangements in place for all dangerous goods carried by air.

(b) The carriage of dangerous goods by sea is governed by the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code, which like the air regulations applies world wide. Its provisions have proved adequate for the safety of dangerous goods exported and imported to and from the United Kingdom. The Code is revised biennially on the basis of proposals presented at meetings of the International Maritime Organisation in London, and the United Kingdom plays an active role in these proceedings. It is implemented into United Kingdom regulations, the last revision of which came into force on 1 November 1997.

(c) Dangerous goods are carried through the Channel Tunnel in accordance with Eurotunnel's arrangements, which were approved in 1994 by the UK/France Intergovernmental Commission, on the advice of the Channel Tunnel Safety Authority. These apply a number of restrictions additional to those already applicable to road and rail carriage which limit both the types and the quantities of dangerous goods that are permitted. These arrangements were reviewed after the fire in the Channel Tunnel on 18 November 1996 and as a result further restrictions were introduced in June 1997, when the suspended HGV shuttle services resumed.