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Transport: Infrastructure — Statement

– in the House of Lords at 2:26 pm on 15th January 2009.

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Photo of Lord Adonis Lord Adonis Minister of State, Department for Transport, Minister of State (Department for Transport) 2:26 pm, 15th January 2009

My Lords, with permission, I shall now repeat a Statement made in another place by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Transport on the Government's plans for transport infrastructure.

"Effective transport links are vital to our economic competitiveness and our daily lives. Britain's prosperity is increasingly defined by the quality of its links to other great trading nations, and by the way in which we move people and goods around the country, by our ability to meet the needs of businesses for gateways to the global economy and to enable people to see their families and friends and to go on holiday.

As the economic downturn demonstrates, we live in a global age. It is critical that government make the tough choices necessary to deliver long term prosperity to the United Kingdom, but in a way that meets our environmental objectives. It is in this context of sustainable economic growth that I want to set out a package of transport investments to prepare us for an ever more global and mobile world.

Over the past decade, we have delivered £150 billion investment in transport—more than £13 billion alone this year—and have announced that we will bring forward an extra £1 billion to stimulate the economy by accelerating our plans to cut congestion and significantly increase rail capacity. Over this current three-year period we are spending around £40 billion, ensuring that investment on transport is at its highest level as a proportion of national income for 30 years.

I should first like to update the House on our plans for road and rail infrastructure, and carbon dioxide emissions from transport before turning to aviation, and in particular Heathrow. I am placing in the Libraries of both Houses relevant papers setting out the proposals in more detail. Copies will be available in the Vote Office at the conclusion of my Statement and on the department's website.

Motorways are essential for enabling people and goods to move around the country. Successful trials on the M42 have enabled us safely to open up motorway hard shoulders in peak periods, delivering more reliable journey times and adding a third more capacity at peak times, all delivered at a lower cost than a more conventional road-widening scheme. After further detailed work, I can announce today a programme of up to £6 billion, which includes applying these techniques to some of the most congested parts of the M1, M25, M6, M62, the M3 and M4 approaching London, and the motorways around Manchester, Birmingham and Bristol. This is the first step in our strategy to provide for managed motorways across the core of the motorway network, linking our major cities over the next 10 to 15 years, and reducing congestion with fewer environmental impacts than with conventional widening.

On the railways, we are already investing £10 billion over the next five years to add capacity while improving reliability and safety. However, given the time it takes to plan and build new rail infrastructure, we need to look well beyond 2014. Electrification is advantageous on heavily used parts of the rail network. Electric trains are lighter, accelerate faster, are quieter and emit less carbon dioxide. We are well advanced in procuring replacement trains for the intercity routes, but before we finalise our plans, we need to decide whether new parts of the network should be electrified. Initial work suggests that the case for electrification appears strongest on the most heavily used parts of the Great Western mainline from Paddington and the Midland mainline north of Bedford. Alongside the work on our new intercity trains, we will analyse the value for money, affordability and financing options of the electrification proposals that Network Rail will put to me shortly. I intend to make a further Statement later this year.

Because of the need to plan for the long term, I can also announce that I am today forming a new company—High Speed Two—to consider the case for new high-speed rail services from London to Scotland. As a first stage, we have asked the company to develop a proposal for an entirely new line between London and the West Midlands, which would enable faster journeys to other destinations in the north of England and Scotland using both existing lines and a new high-speed rail network.

Our experience with Crossrail and the Channel Tunnel Rail Link has demonstrated that advance detailed planning is required to progress such major infrastructure schemes. The purpose of the new company will be to advise Ministers on the feasibility and credibility of a new line with specific route options and financing proposals. Sir David Rowlands will chair the company in the interim. I see a strong case for this new line approaching London via a Heathrow international hub station on the Great Western line to provide a direct four-way interchange between the airport, the new north-south line, existing Great Western rail services and Crossrail into the centre of London. My intention is that by the end of this year the company will have advised us on the most promising route or routes, with their individual costs and benefits.

In the 2003 air transport White Paper, the Government set out their support in principle for a third runway at Heathrow Airport, support that was conditional on any development meeting strict local environmental conditions. Heathrow Airport supports more than 100,000 British jobs. A third runway is forecast to create up to 8,000 new on-site jobs by 2030 and will provide further employment benefits to the surrounding area. Its construction alone would provide up to 60,000 jobs.

More significantly for businesses across the United Kingdom, Heathrow is our only hub airport; it is our most important international gateway. It serves destinations that none of our other airports serves, and it provides more frequent services to key international destinations such as Mumbai and Beijing. It connects us to the growth markets of the future essential for every great trading nation. In doing so, it benefits every region of Britain.

Heathrow is now operating at around 99 per cent of its maximum capacity, leading to delays and constraints on future economic growth. Heathrow is already losing ground to international hub airports in other competitor countries. This makes the UK a progressively less attractive place for mobile international businesses. Delays damage the efficiency of the airport, but they also cause unnecessary carbon dioxide emissions as up to four stacks of aircraft circle London waiting to land. The Government remain convinced, therefore, that additional capacity at Heathrow is critical to this country's long-term economic prosperity. We consulted in November 2007 on three options for providing additional capacity and on whether the environmental conditions could be met. We received nearly 70,000 replies. I have now considered the responses and reached my conclusions.

Two of the options would use the existing runways for both arrivals and take-offs, known as mixed mode. This would improve resilience, reduce delays and has the potential also to provide early additional capacity. It is clear from the consultation, however, that residents under the flight paths greatly value the present alternation of runway operations at around 3 pm, which gives them respite from overhead aircraft noise for at least eight hours each day. Having carefully considered the evidence, including from the consultation, I have decided not to proceed with mixed mode. I have also decided to extend the benefits of runway alternation to those affected by aircraft taking off and landing when the wind is blowing from the east. I will therefore end the Cranford agreement, which generally prohibits easterly take-offs on the northern runway. This will benefit the residents of Windsor and others to the west of the airport and Hatton and North Feltham to the east. I support the continuation of the other operating procedures as set out in the consultation.

This leaves the question of a third runway. Let me first explain my conclusions in the light of the conditions on noise, air quality and surface access set out in the 2003 White Paper. In 1974, some 2 million people around Heathrow were affected by average levels of noise at or above 57 decibels. By 2002, that number had reduced to 258,000 people as the result of significant improvements in aircraft technology. In the White Paper, the Government committed not to enlarge the area within which average noise exceeded 57 decibels. In the light of all the evidence, including from the consultation, I have decided that this condition can be met, even with a third runway. Indeed, because newer aircraft are quieter, the number of people within the 57 decibel contour by 2020 is expected to fall by a further 15,000 from 2002, even with more aircraft movements in 2020. The number of people affected by higher levels of noise is expected to fall even more significantly; for example, a 68 per cent reduction—more than 20,000 fewer people—in those affected by noise averaging 66 decibels and above.

On air quality, the Government are committed to meeting our EU obligations. The relevant pollutant at Heathrow is nitrogen dioxide, for which the EU has set a 2010 target of an annual average of no more than 40 micrograms per cubic metre. As with most other major European economies, the UK does not yet fully comply with this limit, largely as a result of emissions from motor vehicles. The area around Heathrow is by no means the worst example in the country, and the limit is currently exceeded in a number of places in the UK, in most cases by more than near Heathrow. Meeting EU air quality targets is an issue that must to be addressed across the UK, not simply around Heathrow Airport. The European Commission has agreed that member states could be allowed an extension to 2015, if member states can show that they have plans in place to meet the targets. This presents a significant challenge, but I am committed to supporting the actions, mainly in relation to motor vehicle emissions, necessary to achieve it. Immediately around Heathrow, action will be necessary to ensure that we meet the air quality limits by 2015. Our forecasts predict that, in any event, we will be meeting the limits by 2020 even with airport expansion.

Normally these decisions would be taken on the basis of forward projections and modelling. To reinforce our commitments on noise and air quality, I have decided, however, that additional flights could be allowed only when the independent Civil Aviation Authority is satisfied, first, that the noise and air quality conditions have already been met—the air quality limit is already statutory, and we will also give the noise limits legal force—and, secondly, that any additional capacity will not compromise the legal air quality and noise limits. We will give the CAA a new statutory environmental duty to ensure that it acts in the interests of the environment in addition to its existing obligations and duties and that it follows guidance from myself, my right honourable friend the Environment Secretary and the Energy and Climate Change Secretary.

Moreover, in the event that air quality or noise limits were breached, the independent regulators will have a legal duty and the necessary powers to take action, or require others to take the action, needed to come back into compliance. In the case of noise, this would be for the CAA. In the case of air quality, where emissions from roads and rail around Heathrow also need to be considered, the Environment Agency will act as the enforcement body with appropriate guidance from Ministers.

The third local condition for expansion for Heathrow was the provision of adequate public transport. Major improvements in rail access have already been announced, including increases in capacity on the Piccadilly line and the introduction of Crossrail services from 2017. This will provide a maximum capacity of 6,000 passengers per hour, which will be able to accommodate the estimated demand for rail access to a three-runway airport.

The Government also welcome the lead being taken by BAA to promote the Airtrack project providing direct rail access to the airport at Terminal 5 from the south and west. The department will work with BAA and Network Rail to consider this and other schemes to improve connections from Heathrow to places such as Waterloo and Guildford, Reading and other stations on the Great Western main line.

Having considered all the evidence, I have decided that all three of the Government's conditions for supporting a third runway at Heathrow can be met. I can therefore confirm that an additional terminal and the slightly longer runway proposed in the consultation are the best way to maximise the efficiency of a larger airport.

However, I want there to be a limit on the initial use of the third runway so that the increase in aircraft movements does not exceed 125,000 a year, rather than—at this stage—allowing the full additional 222,000 aircraft movements on which we consulted.

I have also decided that any additional capacity available on the third runway will, after consultation, be subject to a new "green slot" principle, to incentivise the use at Heathrow of the most modern aircraft, with further benefits for air quality and noise and, indeed, carbon dioxide emissions.

It is of course crucial for transport, including aviation, to play its full part in meeting our goal to limit carbon dioxide emissions. As a result of UK leadership on aviation emissions in particular, carbon dioxide emissions from international aviation were included in the EU 20 per cent greenhouse gas reduction target for 2020, agreed by the Prime Minister with other European leaders in December last year.

Under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, this reduction will occur whether or not Heathrow is expanded. With a fixed cap for aviation across Europe, doing nothing at Heathrow would allow extra capacity at other hub airports such as Frankfurt, Schipol and Charles de Gaulle. Doing nothing will damage our economy and have no impact on climate change.

The framework for reducing emissions across the EU covers international aviation and all sectors of each member state's domestic economy. This includes emissions from domestic transport within the UK. The Government have already made clear that they will respond to the advice of the Committee on Climate Change on carbon budgets, taking into account aviation, and we will set our carbon budgets later this year.

These budgets will reflect the measures in the EU 2020 package, such as tough new limits on emissions from new cars. To reinforce the delivery of carbon dioxide savings, and to lay the ground for greater savings beyond 2020, I am announcing today funding of £250 million to promote the take-up, and commercialisation within the UK, of ultra low emission road vehicles. With road transport emissions so much greater than aviation's, even a relatively modest take-up of electric vehicles beyond 2020 could, on its own, match all the additional carbon dioxide generated by the expansion of Heathrow.

But, action in relation to domestic transport is not sufficient. We need to take the same tough approach to aviation emissions as we are doing in relation to other transport emissions. So, having taken the lead in promoting the inclusion of aviation in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, the Government will be pressing hard for international aviation to be part of the global deal on climate change at Copenhagen later this year. I have asked the Committee on Climate Change to report back later this year on the best way in which such a deal for aviation could be structured.

I can announce my intention to promote an international agreement to secure the same kind of progressively stricter limits on carbon dioxide emissions from aircraft as are already in place for cars within the European Union. My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State has been in Tokyo this week setting out to a meeting of G7 Transport Ministers how this can be achieved.

But I want to go further. Work published by the aviation industry already illustrates how it could reduce UK emissions below 2005 levels by 2050. This could include the use of new technologies such as blended wings and through the sustainable introduction of renewable fuels. I can announce that we will establish a new target to get aviation emissions in 2050 below 2005 levels, and I have asked the Committee on Climate Change to advise on the best basis for its development. The Government will monitor carefully the emissions from aviation, with the help of the Committee on Climate Change.

Any future capacity increases at Heathrow, beyond the decision I have announced today, will be approved by the Government only after a review by the Committee on Climate Change in 2020 of whether we are on track to achieve the 2050 target that I have announced.

So we are effectively taking three steps to limit any increase in carbon dioxide emissions: first, we are limiting the initial extra capacity to around half of the original proposal; secondly, we intend that new slots at Heathrow will have to be green slots—only the cleanest planes would be allowed to use the new slots that will be made available—and, thirdly, we will establish a new target to limit aviation emissions in the UK to below 2005 levels by 2050. Taken together, this gives us the toughest climate change regime for aviation of any country in the world, which gives Ministers the confidence that we will achieve our 80 per cent emissions reduction target. In addition, we will make it one of our highest priorities to secure international agreement on measures to reduce aviation emissions.

The airport clearly needs new capacity as soon as possible so as to reduce delays and improve resilience. Since I am not willing to allow the two existing runways to operate on mixed mode, I anticipate that the airport operator will bring forward a planning application for a new runway to be operational early in the period between 2015 and 2020, envisaged in the White Paper.

The parallel review of the economic regulation of airports is focusing on how best to improve the passenger experience and encourage investment. In the regulatory framework, which results from this work, I expect the first call on new capacity to ensure that journeys are more reliable for existing passengers. We will therefore have a better airport.

These announcements on transport infrastructure, on motorways, railways, on Heathrow, and on carbon reductions from domestic transport, show the Government taking the right decisions for the long term, delivering real help with job creation today, and creating real hope for Britain's long-term growth prospects: real help in securing carbon reductions; real help for rail passengers; and real help in increasing the long -term competitiveness of the UK economy by creating excellent transport links to the global economy, ensuring this remains an attractive country in which to do business. I commend this Statement to the House".

My Lords, that concludes the Statement.

Photo of Lord Hanningfield Lord Hanningfield Shadow Minister, Transport 2:48 pm, 15th January 2009

My Lords, I thank the Minister for repeating the Statement made in the other House. I often agree with much of what he says, but I do not find much to agree with in this Statement. It seems that much of it is meant to cover the announcement of another runway at Heathrow. In view of everything he said, this is a very bleak day for the Government's environmental credentials. It is a bleak day for the millions who opposed the Government's plan to expand Heathrow, and a terrible day for the millions who live under the current flight path, and for those who will suffer from the new flight path and plans.

We have consistently been opposed to the third runway at Heathrow and feel that it will be an environmental disaster. We have consistently opposed the Government's White Paper on aviation policy, which highlighted and promoted growth only in the south-east, and feel that it would have been better for regeneration and other things to have a more national aviation policy. As discussions in this House have shown, Heathrow needs reorganising, not another runway. We feel that the Government are—as will emerge over the next few weeks and months—on the wrong side of the argument over Heathrow, and increasingly on the wrong side of the environmental argument.

As for the Government's assurances on the environment, there have been quite a few announcements recently. The House will need to analyse those issues and I hope we can debate them further. But the assurances lack credibility. I am interested in the idea of green planes and green slots but we have not seen them yet; perhaps the Minister can tell us more. The 2050 target is interesting but is rather a long way away. I do not know how many of us will see it happen. Perhaps he can explain the proposals a bit more. What will be the criteria for assessing whether planes are green and whether they can use these slots? There is also concern about a new runway that is only partially used. I cannot imagine a new runway that is only partially used. The Government are burdening the country's children not only with the debt of this recession but with a climate change problem caused by Heathrow that this policy can only speed up.

The Minister also made an economic argument but that case also has not been properly put. There is very little evidence supporting the claim that people will not use Heathrow unless it expands. It is not logical. Perhaps the Government will explain it. What evidence is there to support increasing the number of runways or the argument on economic prosperity? Frankfurt has a bigger airport than London but London is a far bigger financial centre. The Statement says a lot about increasing the number of jobs. We all want that to happen immediately but, with the planning process, those jobs are many years away. It will not provide jobs now. Perhaps we can analyse that a bit more.

We are pleased with one of the Government's changes of heart: their climb-down on the mixed mode. However, we are extremely cautious about how long the commitment will last. Perhaps the Minister will comment on it. Is it just a stay of execution? As noble Lords will recall, it was this House that, after some debate, persuaded the Government not to extend night flights over London. London is always cautious about increasing the number of flights, especially night flights.

The Government have missed an opportunity on high-speed rail. I know that the Minister is a rail enthusiast, and perhaps he has converted his colleagues in the other place—I do not know whether they were enthusiasts initially. The Government have not taken our advice. High-speed rail should be a green alternative to short-haul internal flights. It should not increase airport capacity but be an alternative to flying. If it were then we would welcome some of the Statement's initiatives on high-speed rail. Perhaps he can expand on this issue. Perhaps the Government will acknowledge that it could be an alternative to short-haul flights.

We are not happy about how the consultation has been handled. On the second day of the Report stage on the Planning Bill, the Minister said:

"The elephant in the Chamber is the Air Transport White Paper. That issue is giving rise to a good deal of concern and it might be helpful if I state categorically that we intend to produce a national policy statement which meets in full the policy and statutory requirements for national policy statement set out in the Bill. As part of that I can say categorically that we will consult again on the airports national policy statements in line with the Bill's requirements".—[Hansard, 10/11/08; col. 448.]

Perhaps the Minister will comment on that. The consultation on this process has not been adequate.

I was interested to hear that there are plans for motorway improvements, on which we agree, and an announcement on money. Will the Minister tell us the timeframe? Sometimes the money is announced but we are then told that it will be in 2025. There was no timeframe for this announcement but we would like to have one.

Under a future Conservative Government there would not be a third runway at Heathrow: it would not happen. It is clear that this Government have decided to abandon any claim they had to helping save the environment, even if this Prime Minister talks about saving the world. This new runway will undo any such claim he might make in the future. We are not happy at all with the Statement. I am sure that it will be a matter of debate many times in the coming weeks.

Photo of Lord Bradshaw Lord Bradshaw Spokesperson for Transport 2:55 pm, 15th January 2009

My Lords, I also thank the Minister for his Statement. We believe that this is a wrong decision and will do all in our power to reverse it, whatever that may take. It flies in the face of the Government's commitment to climate change. We are anything but satisfied that the emission trading scheme is a robust way of reducing emissions worldwide. While I note the Minister's references to the Committee on Climate Change, I truly worry whether that committee can take decisions on an absolutely objective basis.

I ask the Minister to reconsider the logic of his arguments about a high-speed link that is targeted principally at Heathrow. The majority of those wanting to make inter-city journeys in this country want to make them to and from London, not Heathrow. Improving the rail network so that journeys to London are faster will mean that far more people travel by rail instead of air—precisely the point that the noble Lord, Lord Hanningfield, made. We want to get more people out of aeroplanes so that the available slots are used for the most necessary purposes. I ask the Minister to consider whether it is not premature to think about building a new link to Heathrow as the only connection between London and the cities of this country rather than expanding our existing rail network, which could be done far more cheaply.

Although I do not like using people's names in the Chamber, I would ask the Minister what qualifications Sir David Rowlands has to lead a large engineering project. I looked at his CV in Who's Who. He has pursued his entire career in the Civil Service. We would have expected the department to appoint a big-hitter with engineering experience—someone like John Armit, although I know that he is away now doing something else. However, it should be someone who is determined to drive the project through and with a track record of doing so. If the Minster looks carefully at Sir David's past he will see that he has been concerned with the bureaucracy of a department, not with actually achieving anything.

The White Paper contains little commitment to any immediate improvement in railway services. Although it mentions studies into this and that and the possibility of something happening now, tomorrow or in 20 years' time, the only substance is a mention of BAA working to bring forward the Airtrack scheme. That is not a major scheme. It is useful but could never be described as an excuse for going ahead with the proposals before us today.

I shall leave my remarks there except to ask the Minister whether there will be further opportunity for parliamentary scrutiny of this decision. I believe that this decision would be robustly rejected by the whole House.

Photo of Lord Adonis Lord Adonis Minister of State, Department for Transport, Minister of State (Department for Transport) 2:59 pm, 15th January 2009

My Lords, I thank both noble Lords for their responses. On the final point made by the noble Lord, Lord Bradshaw, about parliamentary debate, that is, of course, a matter for the usual channels. However, I personally would welcome a debate on the proposals that we have announced this afternoon and the opportunity to explain and debate them more fully. I would also welcome the opportunity to get into the detail of the announcement and, if I may say so, because we do things more gently in this Chamber, to test some of the rather strong claims that have been made against the actual facts that may or may not underpin them.

The noble Lord, Lord Hanningfield, is a fair-minded man and I think that he would accept—how can I put this delicately?—that his party's policy on this issue has not been entirely consistent. This lock, stock and barrel opposition to Heathrow expansion in any form, which is now the policy that he has been required to enunciate from the Conservative Front Bench, is not the policy that his party has consistently followed in the past. Indeed, I seem to recall that when the noble Lord, Lord Mawhinney, was Transport Secretary—he is in his place—he said that airport expansion in the south-east of England might well be necessary, for precisely the economic reasons that we set out in the Statement. Therefore, a debate might help to bring out—how can I put it?—the diversity of views held on this matter within the parties as well as between them.

The noble Lord said that the announcements other than on aviation were "cover"—I think that that was the word he used—for the announcements. He then went on to say that he knew that I had been a strong proponent of rail investment and change. I can tell him and the noble Lord, Lord Bradshaw, that these announcements are not cover; they are absolutely sincere and serious proposals.

I think that the noble Lord, Lord Bradshaw, has misunderstood the proposal in respect of the high-speed line. It is for the development of a plan for a high-speed line from London to the West Midlands. We have asked the new company, which Sir David Rowlands will chair—I will come to Sir David in a moment, because I believe that the noble Lord's remarks about him were very unfair—to develop the plan for that line, which will include an option for an interchange station also serving Heathrow, the Great Western main line and Crossrail. But the noble Lord is absolutely right that the principal market for any such line will be London to the West Midlands.

However, being a believer in integrated transport policy—it is something that I have believed in for many decades, as has the noble Lord, but which has been too often wanting in the past—surely the noble Lord agrees that it is sensible for us to plan our next generation of rail infrastructure in hand with our next generation of airport infrastructure. The great bane of transport planning in the post-war decades was the failure to integrate planning effectively. After all, for the first period of its existence, until the Piccadilly line was extended much later, Heathrow had no rail links whatever. I say to the noble Lord, who I thought was a proponent of integrated transport policy, that it ill behoves him to come to the House this afternoon to condemn what could be the most forward-looking exercise in integrated transport policy that we have seen in this country in recent times.

As for Sir David Rowlands, I think that the noble Lord has misunderstood the nature of the company in the first instance. There is nothing to engineer until you have a plan. What we are doing in respect of the north-south high-speed line is precisely what happened in respect of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link on the one hand and Crossrail on the other: we are establishing a small company at the outset to develop the plan for the line, after which the Government will need to take a decision about whether to proceed. At that point, of course, it becomes a major engineering project. But there is no major engineering project until you have the detailed route plan and environmental assessments in order to take it forward. Sir David Rowlands is eminently suited to chairing a company to produce the plan for the high-speed line. He is not only a former—and very effective—Permanent Secretary at the Department for Transport, but was head of its rail division for a long period and was the official who, more than any other official in government, saw the Channel Tunnel Rail Link through from design to completion. I see the noble Lord, Lord Mawhinney, nodding, so I hope that the noble Lord will reflect on those comments. Generally speaking in my experience of politics, when people are doing things with which you basically agree, it is a good idea to say so. The noble Lord and I basically agree on these rail projects. It would be good if we were able to voice our agreement.

In respect of the aviation points that have been made, there was a lot of hyperbole and not enough facts underpinning it. The noble Lord, Lord Hanningfield, said that this was a bleak day for those near Heathrow. I should point out that a considerable number of those near Heathrow work at Heathrow and have a significant personal interest in its success. Something like one in 10 people in work in the London borough of Hounslow works at Heathrow. Therefore, I think that individuals will have very different views depending on their perspective.

However, we have stood robustly behind the commitments that we gave in respect of air quality, noise and local public transport access, and we have added to those commitments, on which we have consulted, new commitments in respect of climate change, which will further enhance the capacity of Heathrow to expand without unacceptable environmental effects.

I should have thought that the noble Lord might have welcomed those additional steps that we have taken in respect of climate change. They are not pie in the sky. The target of 2050 for reducing aviation emissions below their current level is one that the Sustainable Aviation initiative—the group that brings together all the key players in the aviation industry—believes is achievable. If we can generate the next generation of planes in as efficient a manner as each successive generation has been achieved so far, the next generation of planes alone will be up to 40 per cent more fuel efficient than the present generation. The current generation of jets is about 70 per cent more fuel efficient than the jets of 40 years ago.

Therefore, it is not pie in the sky to believe that, with a will and the right incentives, including the EU Emissions Trading Scheme and the other measures that I set out in the Statement, we can over the medium to long term get emissions below their current level. Of course, in the short term they will rise, though proportionately much less than the increase in flights. However, the Emissions Trading Scheme is designed to cope with precisely that eventuality. There is no point in having traded emissions if you do not allow people to trade emissions. The whole basis of the scheme is that increased emissions from the aviation sector will be traded with decreased emissions elsewhere in the economy.

Like the noble Lord, I end on a slightly grand note. I believe that this is a very good day for the country's transport infrastructure—not only for the capacity of Heathrow to meet the social and economic needs of the country, but for integrated transport planning—and an excellent day for the future of our railways.

Photo of Lord Soley Lord Soley Labour 3:07 pm, 15th January 2009

My Lords, as someone with an interest in the future of Heathrow, I strongly welcome the third runway and, above all, the proposed link to the railway system. The Minister will know that I wrote to the Secretary of State two or three years ago saying that this was crucial if we were to get in line with our European competitors whose hub airports are integrated into rail and road. Will he reconsider one area of mixed mode? I understand why the current decision has been made, but without some degree of mixed mode, even if it is flexible for certain areas, you will not be able to prevent stacking over London, which is particularly bad for the environment. It will also be very difficult to deal with delays, which damage Heathrow's reputation. This is a difficult area. I am not necessarily asking for an answer right now, simply that he takes this away and further considers whether there can be some flexibility to prevent stacking and delays. That is very important in the context of mixed mode.

Photo of Lord Adonis Lord Adonis Minister of State, Department for Transport, Minister of State (Department for Transport)

My Lords, I welcome my noble friend's support for the main elements of today's announcement. He is right about the importance of linking the development of rail infrastructure with air infrastructure. At the moment, about 24 per cent of passengers arrive or leave Heathrow by rail. The comparative figures are about 27 per cent at Frankfurt, 35 per cent at Schiphol and 40 per cent at Oslo's major airport. We believe that it is possible to get that proportion up higher still with the measures that I set out, including the existing expansion that is taking place in capacity on the Piccadilly line, which we should welcome. I understand the point that my noble friend makes about mixed mode, but my right honourable friend the Secretary of State has made his decision in respect of mixed mode and will not be revisiting it. The points that my noble friend made about stacking are precisely parts of the argument for building the third runway sooner rather than later. The Statement made it clear that, if the relevant planning processes are satisfied, we envisage it being possible for the new runway to come into operation in the early part of the period 2015 to 2020. That is the best long-term way to deal with the congestion issues that my noble friend raised.

Photo of Lord Mawhinney Lord Mawhinney Conservative

My Lords, I start by declaring an interest in that I believe that I was the last Conservative Transport Secretary who reported to Parliament on a review of airport capacity in London and the south-east. When we undertook that survey, we did not grasp the nettle of the third runway at Heathrow, although as the Minister made clear I did say that it was an issue that would have to be revisited, for all the arguments that he has deployed today, which were the same arguments as we had. I commend him for grasping that nettle, but I do so in the context of the comment made by my noble friend Lord Hanningfield. Those of us who offer support do so conditionally on the Government being serious about the environmental framework within which any third runway is built. That is extremely important and should not be offered, either to Parliament or to the nation, as a sop to cover a transport initiative.

Just before I left my post as Secretary of State, I initiated an inquiry into whether it would be possible to have a rail line that linked Stansted, Heathrow and Gatwick with intersections with the M25, so that there could be off-site car parking and delivery, thereby reducing the overall environmental pressure at Heathrow. I left before that report was produced. Clearly, none of my successors at this point has looked at it or resurrected it, but I recommend that the Minister does so, because there is more railway interaction with airfields and airports that could be of benefit not only to the travelling public but to the environment.

Finally, I say to the noble Lord, Lord Bradshaw, that I had the pleasure and the privilege of working with David Rowlands, who offered distinguished service to our Government, as he has to this Government. I would deprecate any attempt to suggest that he was not an appropriate person to head this review.

Photo of Lord Adonis Lord Adonis Minister of State, Department for Transport, Minister of State (Department for Transport)

My Lords, I am grateful for the noble Lord's comments, not only in respect of Heathrow, which made it clear that there is a diversity of opinions on this issue. If I may put it again gently, those who actually have responsibility for the national well-being may sometimes take a different position from that taken by those who feel that they have to make shorter-term political points. The noble Lord is now an elder statesman and has no responsibility to persuade anyone of the need to vote for him in the short term, so his judgment is probably better than anyone's in the House. Those who have responsibility for these issues have tended to come down in favour of expansion, with appropriate safeguards in respect of environmental considerations, particularly for those near the airport, to meet the economic and social needs of the country, and the noble Lord set out why.

I also greatly appreciate the noble Lord's comments about Sir David Rowlands, who is a very distinguished public servant. I cannot think of anyone more suitable for taking forward this project or who would give me as a Minister more confidence that the work will be done well and will give us a basis on which to make a good decision afterwards.

The noble Lord said that it is important that our commitments in respect of CO2 are real. The EU Emissions Trading Scheme is for real. Under the scheme, aviation emissions cannot increase from 97 per cent of average 2004-06 levels in 2012 and 95 per cent in 2013 without our trading carbon savings elsewhere. The European Commission has forecast that this will lead to an EU-wide carbon saving of 194 million tonnes of CO2 by 2020. That was the EU Emissions Trading Scheme that Her Majesty's Government played a critical role in bringing into being. There are other issues that I mentioned in respect of green slots, the next generation of lower-carbon aeroplanes and the international emissions standard, which we will be pressing in respect of new planes, just as happened with the standard recently agreed for new cars, to further limit emissions in the generation ahead. For all those reasons, it is absolutely credible that we can during the period to 2050 get carbon emissions from aviation below their current level, even allowing for the expansion of aviation, which is manifestly to the benefit of our economy and society.

Photo of Lord Clinton-Davis Lord Clinton-Davis Labour

My Lords, is it not clear that the Opposition had absolutely nothing to say about the three European airports mentioned by my noble friend? They had nothing to say about jobs in or around Heathrow Airport. They had nothing to say about the new generation of aircraft that are coming on line. Are these not highly relevant as far as the issue that we are considering is concerned? Has not the expansion that is envisaged by the Government regarding high-speed rail networks and road networks been advocated by BALPA and me over many years? Is that not relevant to this issue as well?

Photo of Lord Adonis Lord Adonis Minister of State, Department for Transport, Minister of State (Department for Transport)

My Lords, my noble friend is absolutely right about the importance of jobs and looking at wider international experience in respect of aviation. I have always regarded it as a good maxim of public policy that, when our major European partners are conducting major policy initiatives, we should at least take serious note; we may not agree with them, but we should at least take serious note. That has been a significant factor in my own thinking on high-speed rail. There was a lot of scepticism about high-speed rail when the Japanese first started their bullet trains in the 1960s. I remember that people thought that it might be suitable for Japan but would not be suitable for us. Now that most other major European countries are building or have completed high-speed rail networks, it is clearly sensible for us to look at extending our high-speed network beyond the short stretch that we have from London to the Channel Tunnel.

My noble friend is also right in stressing the importance of looking at the experience of other major European countries in respect of aviation. Frankfurt has three runways and is currently building a fourth. Frankfurt serves 262 international destinations, against only 180 for Heathrow at the moment. Schiphol has five runways and Charles de Gaulle has four runways. Munich, which is the second airport in Germany, has two runways and is planning a third. It now serves more destinations—244—than London Heathrow. Those must be relevant factors in our decision. Noble Lords may choose to reject them, but it is not right to fail to address them squarely, as I believe we all have a responsibility to do.

Photo of The Earl of Mar and Kellie The Earl of Mar and Kellie Spokesperson for Transport

My Lords, on the subject of motorways, I am surprised that the trials on the M42 were successful. Can the Minister say how often the hard shoulder was already occupied by stationary vehicles during the trial? My second question is about the railways. I welcome the glimmer of hope for a high-speed line leading ultimately, perhaps, to Scotland. Will the Minister reconsider how far the initial part of the line should go? I strongly recommend that for credibility in Scotland it is necessary that the railway be planned to go to Preston. North of Preston, the west coast main line is less used than it is down south.

Photo of Lord Adonis Lord Adonis Minister of State, Department for Transport, Minister of State (Department for Transport)

My Lords, I note the noble Earl's comments on the first stage of any high-speed line. In fact, the most congested part by far of the west coast main line is south of Rugby. Being able to significantly improve that line would have a hugely positive impact for all destinations further north. However, I appreciate the noble Earl's concern that we build it to reach as far as possible towards Scotland. I would only point out that with the high-speed line that we are talking about, it will be possible to run high-speed services to destinations significantly beyond, with commensurate time savings. It will be possible to have significant time savings to destinations in Scotland. I know that to the Scots that will be a very attractive feature of the scheme.

I was very careful in the Statement to talk about the first stage. As with other countries that have developed high-speed networks, one would hope that one stage will lead to another. We have High Speed 1 and we have just created a company called High Speed 2. I can tell the House that the Government have also taken over new company names and lodged with Companies House the names High Speed 3, 4, 5 and further large numbers. That may be of some comfort to the noble Earl.

Regarding the hard-shoulder running pilot on the M42, the best way of dealing with his question would be if he and I went together on the M42 to see it at first hand. He would then understand that the points he has raised have been entirely met. The area where the hard shoulder has been opened for running in periods of congestion, which is most peak periods, is only opened after the cameras which monitor the motorway through a control centre have cleared the hard shoulder as being safe to open, so that there are no vehicles on it. There are also regular refuges in lay-bys along the route, whereby cars that need to leave the motorway, including those that are running on the hard shoulder as a running lane, can do so easily and safely. Because the lay-bys are monitored from a control centre, as soon as cars pull into them, that is immediately noted by the control centre and assistance is offered, either by telephone from a helpline point at the lay-by, or, if necessary, a patrol car is sent out to help. The safety record of the part of the M42 that is subject to this managed motorway running is better than was previously the case there. Therefore, the scheme is a highly positive step forward which has been popular with motorists. It helps to reduce congestion and it has helped to improve safety levels.

Photo of Lord Faulkner of Worcester Lord Faulkner of Worcester Labour

My Lords, I have commented on my noble friend's commitment to the railways, and I have commended him for it. I warmly welcome what he has said about railway electrification, the construction of High Speed 2 and the improvement of local access around Heathrow. I know that he has recently been to Japan, where he has seen the success of a high-speed railway there. Based on that experience and those in Germany, France, Italy and Spain, does he accept that for journeys of up to 400 miles or less than four hours, passengers prefer to take a reliable high-speed train than to fly? Would it not make more sense to build High Speed 2 first, rather than waiting until, perhaps, 2027, and then judge whether it is necessary to have a new runway at Heathrow?

Photo of Lord Adonis Lord Adonis Minister of State, Department for Transport, Minister of State (Department for Transport)

My Lords, I take any comments from my noble friend very seriously, and I strongly welcome his comments in respect of the high-speed line. He is absolutely right that the experience of Japan and of our European partners is that for journeys of under about three hours, where there is a reliable and effective rail service, air traffic is substantially displaced. However, that does not meet the argument regarding Heathrow at all, because only a very small proportion of Heathrow flights are to domestic destinations. Only 3 per cent of flights to and from Heathrow go to Manchester or Leeds, so the arguments that I have set out in favour of the expansion of Heathrow are not materially affected by the movement to rail of passengers using existing air traffic to Manchester or Leeds—although I would welcome any growth that rail could make in its market share as a result of a high-speed line. It would be possible to get a larger modal shift if there were to be substantial cuts in journey times to Scotland, but the traffic implications of that for Heathrow are very small and do not materially affect the judgments which have led us to believe that it is in the public interest that Heathrow should expand.

Photo of Lord Howell of Guildford Lord Howell of Guildford Shadow Minister, Foreign Affairs, Deputy Shadow Leader, Parliament, Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs), Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Lords

My Lords, regarding the railway aspects of the Statement, I declare an interest as an adviser to the Japan Central Railway Company and the Shinkansen system, and as one of the rather numerous ex-Secretaries of State for Transport under the Conservatives.

I am sure that the Minister appreciates, but will he ensure that High Speed 1 appreciates, that for this high-speed system to work, the tracks have to be completely and totally dedicated—that is, no level crossings, no other freight, no other users—and fully security protected? That is the only way that really effective high-speed systems will work, and their construction will produce enormous challenges, as I am sure he recognises. Among the options, will High Speed 1 look at the possibility of magnetic levitation—the maglev system—in line with the Yamanashi project now being developed and built in Japan between Tokyo and Osaka? He has probably seen the project. The amount of money involved is enormous but the speed is amazing and the environmental improvements huge.

Finally—this has already been mentioned by your Lordships—does the Minister accept that the joy of high-speed systems and the way in which they can defeat and eliminate all domestic air travel and, indeed, even air travel to continental links is if they go from city centre to city centre? There is no point in having any kind of diversion to other hubs in other areas; it is the easy access, city to city, that makes this kind of travel infinitely preferable over shorter hauls to trailing to an airport and airport travel.

Photo of Lord Adonis Lord Adonis Minister of State, Department for Transport, Minister of State (Department for Transport)

My Lords, I was well aware of the noble Lord's expertise and experience in this area. When I visited Japan, he was specifically mentioned to me by the chairman of the Japan Central Railway Company. I know that that company has greatly valued the advice provided to it by the noble Lord over a number of years.

I take note of the noble Lord's points in respect of the design of high-speed lines, and I think that probably the best response I can give is that it would be extremely worth while if the noble Lord and Sir David Rowlands were to meet at an early date to discuss these issues.

Alas, when you compare different systems, not one single model becomes apparent. I know that some nations developing high-speed lines take it as an article of faith that there should be very few stations on those lines—only in city centres or close to cities. However, that is not the experience of Japan. On the Tokyo to Osaka line, which the noble Lord mentioned, there are frequent stations, and trains alternate. Some run almost non-stop and some stop at a large number of stations. Therefore, the question of whether to have intermediate stations, as, for example, we suggest might be possible for a line serving Heathrow, needs to be considered properly as part of the design work.

Of course, the more stations there are and the more complex the running requirements of the line, the greater the challenge in providing the high level of reliability of service that we wish to see. The Japanese have certainly shown how that can be done, with levels of reliability on their rail system which are truly mind-boggling. I know that Network Rail is keen to see what more it can do to learn from them.

I have to be frank with your Lordships and say that we are not attracted to the maglev system, although I noted the development taking place and the plan of the Japan Central Railway Company to build the maglev between Tokyo and Nagoya as the proposed first leg. However, the operating and building costs of the maglev are very high. By definition, it is not possible to integrate it with the existing high-speed line, and its carbon emissions are also extremely high—significantly higher than those of conventional high-speed rail lines. All those factors have meant that the Government do not wish to see a maglev proposal considered further.