Transport Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:00 pm on 9th November 2000.

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Photo of Baroness Hamwee Baroness Hamwee Liberal Democrat 5:00 pm, 9th November 2000

My Lords, I have never seen the Bill as overriding authorities' responsibilities in regard to the environment, nor, indeed, the requirement for them to put matters with which this part of the Bill is concerned in the context of--and make them subject to--local structure plans.

I hope that the Minister will confirm that the present regime ensures that the issues raised by the noble Lord are at the top of the agenda. We recently passed the Local Government Act 2000, which places a duty on local authorities to prepare strategies for promoting and improving the economic, social and environmental well-being of their areas. The reason for imposing such a duty was to ensure that such considerations overarch and encompass the plans that each local authority is required to introduce.

Noble Lords may recall that some 40 duties were referred to. Admittedly, we did not have this Bill before us at the time, but it seems to me that in that sense it is no different. I hope that in the year 2000 the creation of local and structure plans is totally integrated with transport. The plans would fail if they did not have complete regard to transport.

It would worry me to insert a reference to the environment in such a way as to suggest that, where there is no reference to the environment, it is not an issue. I hope that we are moving towards the position where our legislation ensures that we have regard to environmental matters at all times.

Clause 108 requires local authorities to develop policies to promote efficient transport facilities and services. I hope that it is the case that the term "efficient" now encompasses "efficient environmentally". The current much discussed examples--and I admit that there are different views--relate to global warming; namely, emissions and the effect on climate (flooding, for example). If transport policy is such that its use of fuels allows emissions to increase, which is what I assume the noble Lord has in mind, that means that it is not efficient because of the other effects on the way in which we operate.

If the Minister can use this opportunity to confirm the definition of "efficient" these days, the noble Lord may have achieved something. Other than that, I do not think that the amendment before the House is necessary.