HC Deb 22 March 1999 vol 328 cc50-1W
Mr. Shaw

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what progress he has made on the proposals for noise mitigation on existing trunk roads announced in "A New Deal for Trunk Roads in England". [78304]

Ms Glenda Jackson

My noble Friend the Under-Secretary of State announced today that we have established criteria and a budget to deal with some of the most serious and pressing cases of traffic noise on existing trunk roads as promised in "A New Deal for Trunk Roads in England".

The Government recognise that excessive traffic noise is an important issue for many people. Noise mitigation was not required on roads built before 1969, and in many cases the mitigation provided on roads built between 1969 and 1988 (when the approach to assessing traffic noise was changed) was based on unrealistically low predicted noise levels. This means there has been inequity in the treatment of residents living close to certain trunk roads built before 1988. To help us identify the most serious and pressing cases we are today establishing criteria which will be used in an initial sift. Cases satisfying these sift criteria will be studied in greater depth to determine whether practicable and cost-effective mitigation can be provided. An annual ring-fenced budget of £5 million has been set aside to deal with the most serious of these trunk road cases in England.

Our new sift criteria for noise mitigation will be:

  1. (a) trunk roads must have been opened before June 1988, but priority for attention is to be given to locations affected by roads which have remained unaltered since October 1969 (the qualifying date for the first noise mitigation measures);
  2. (b) current (ie 1998) noise levels immediately adjacent to the road to be at least 80 dB (A); and
  3. (c) in the case of roads opened or altered after October 1969, the current (ie 1998) noise levels must be at least 3 dB(A) greater than' predicted for the design year.

As far as Wales and Scotland are concerned, this will be a matter for the Welsh Assembly and Scottish Parliament who, after devolution, will be responsible for trunk roads in Wales and Scotland.