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Volume 404: debated on Friday 30 May 2003

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The Department for Transport is today publishing a Project Appraisal Framework for Ports. The framework is designed to be used by promoters of port projects when they are seeking planning and other approvals. It sets out a template for the presentation of appraisals. The framework should contribute to making proceedings at public inquiries more transparent and focussed to the benefit of promoters, objectors and decision-makers. The development of a project appraisal framework for port developments is a specific initiative arising from our ports policy document, Modern Ports: A UK Policy.The framework is advisory, and not a statutory requirement, but I hope that ports will use it to organise and summarise material supporting the case for port projects. The framework should be used for port projects in England and Wales. Port projects in Scotland are covered by the Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance (STAG). In order to minimise the burden on ports the framework defines the particular status and size of projects that should be covered by the framework. The framework would not normally apply to commercial or residential developments in a port area (these might be dealt with by local planning procedures), but would potentially apply to port developments servicing all types of merchant ships, fishing vessels and leisure craft.In the past the appraisal and approval of port developments have been dealt with largely separately from other modes. The intention of the framework is to make the appraisal of port projects both more consistent with other modes and more consistent with each other and to take full account of the role of ports in promoting sustainable transport. Use of the framework should also enable the appraisal to assess the performance of projects against the government's objectives for transport concerning safety, economy, the environment, integration and accessibility. The framework broadly follows the guidance for appraising projects in other modes, such as highway schemes, local transport schemes and airports, but also reflects the particular circumstances of ports where most investment is financed by private sector companies operating in a competitive market.The publication of this framework follows consultation undertaken last year with port operators, port users, environmental groups, local authorities and other interested parties. The comments received during the consultation have proved to be very helpful in developing the framework. I am grateful to those organisations and individuals that took part in the consultation.As well as the framework the Department has also prepared a summary of responses to the consultation and a commentary on these responses. All these documents are available from the Department for Transport and on the Department's web site. Copies have also been placed in the Libraries of the House.