asked the Minister of Transport what consideration he gives to the factor of oil conservation when judging the economic value of new road projects.
Estimates of savings in vehicle operating costs, including fuel costs, are incorporated in the economic assessment. Both these and the underlying traffic estimates assume that fuel prices will increase in real terms in future. We therefore attempt to measure the oil savings which better roads can produce and anticipate the effects of higher oil prices in our road planning.
Does my hon. Friend accept that the present rapid increase in the price of oil strengthens the argument for new roads, bearing in mind that such new roads, especially those of motorway standards, tend to prevent stop-go motoring which uses more fuel?
I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. That is a relevant factor that should be taken into account in connection with road planning. Traffic jams can be very wasteful of fuel. In all our transport planning we have to take account of the energy saving implications.
On what assumptions are the Government working regarding the correlation between real increases in fuel prices and consumption?
The fuel price forecasts that we are working on at the moment allow for the crude oil price to treble between 1977 and 2000, and we try to make some assessment of the possible impacts of that on vehicle and road use.