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Air Pollution (Ferrybridge)

Volume 227: debated on Monday 28 June 1993

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To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he has received details of the study to measure air pollution in the Ferrybridge area along the roads of the AI and M62; and if he will make a statement.

The air pollution study has been commissioned to start later this summer when traffic flows will be at their peak. It will last for several weeks and preliminary results should be available before the end of the year.

May I welcome the Minister to his new post and hope that with a new Minister we shall get some fresh ideas on highway development in the Ferrybridge area? The study to which the Minister refers is very important because there is a plan for a 16-lane motorway to go through a conurbation 250 yd from a large junior and infant school, with a large mixed estate of council and private houses to the east, and a large housing estate to the west, less than 200 yd from the motorway. Does the Minister accept that an in-depth study is needed, and will he agree that that study will be made available for public consultation? If the proposals put forward by the Department of Transport are allowed to go ahead, we shall have the most polluted mile of motorway in the United Kingdom. Will the Minister assure me that the consultation document will be made public?

First, I thank the hon. Gentleman for his welcome. It is a pleasure to do business with him again. It takes us back to the golden days of the Local Government Finance Bill, when we enjoyed so many happy hours.

The hon. Gentleman would expect me to have done my homework on this matter. He has been a strong advocate on behalf of people on the Darrington and Limetrees estate in that corner of Pontefract. There has already been substantial investigation into the matter and the air pollution study is yet another investigation. We expect to publish draft orders in the next 12 to 18 months, which will give another opportunity to look at the matter. The preferred route, which has been announced, provides the best value for money, the least environmental impact, the greatest traffic relief to residents of Ferrybridge and Brotherton, and is supported by the majority of residents there.

Does my hon. Friend agree that, on the general point of controlling and reducing air pollution, the Government's commitment to catalytic converters, the greater use of unleaded petrol, and new proposals to get more freight off the roads and on to the railways is absolutely clear?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. He has catalogued a number of the Government's successes. He may have omitted one or two, however. I remind him of the tighter emission limits for new heavy duty diesels from 1 October 1993. Neither should we forget noise pollution which, from new motor vehicles, has been reduced by up to 10 decibels through tighter standards between 1980 and 1990. That is just for starters.