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Inland Waterways: Freight

Volume 503: debated on Thursday 14 January 2010

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what steps his Department is taking to encourage use of inland and coastal waterways for the transportation of goods and materials. (310574)

The Department for Transport supports the transfer of freight from road to water where it is practical and economically and environmentally sustainable to do so. It does this through three specific grants that aim to purchase the environmental benefits of reducing road freight.

Freight Facilities Grants help to offset the capital cost of providing water and rail freight handling facilities. In return, the grant applicant commits to transferring a specified volume of freight from road to water or rail, through the newly constructed freight handling facility, for a period of up to 10 years.

The Rail Environmental Benefit Procurement scheme, which assists companies with the operating costs associated with running rail freight transport instead of road where rail is more expensive than road, now also covers inland waterways transport, and from 1 April 2010 will be replaced by Mode Shift Revenue Support (MSRS) scheme.

Waterborne Freight Grants assist companies with the operating costs, for up to three years, associated with running coastal and short-sea shipping freight services instead of road (where water is more expensive than road).

In addition, the Department has provided £800,000 in start-up funding to Freight by Water and its predecessor Sea and Water since 2003-04, and has undertaken to provide a further £50,000 in 2010-11. It is also promoting the opportunities and benefits for modal shift through the Freight Best Practice programme.