Skip to main content

Petitions

Volume 533: debated on Monday 10 October 2011

Petitions

Monday 10 October 2011

OBSERVATIONS

Health

Leacroft surgery (Crawley)

The Petition of residents of Crawley,

Declares that the Petitioners are concerned by the current proposals to close a general practitioner’s surgery in the Crawley Borough Ward of West Green

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to take all possible action to ensure that Leacroft surgery is able to maintain health service provision in the area.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Henry Smith, Official Report, 7 September 2011; Vol. 532, c. 517.]

[P000953]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Health, received 19 September 2011:

The issue raised in the petition is a local matter and my Department will bring it to the attention of the local NHS.

Transport

Bridgwater by-pass

The Petition of residents of Bridgwater,

Declares that the Petitioners believe that EDF Energy should not be granted permission to proceed with the Hinckley Point C Nuclear Development without first constructing a northern bypass for Bridgwater from Junction 23 of the M5 to connect with the A39 west of Cannington; that such a bypass would ensure that construction traffic would avoid Bridgwater’s already over-congested roads and leave the whole area a worthwhile legacy after the construction of the Hinckley Point C Nuclear Development is complete; and that the Petitioners believe that a bypass would render an EDF facility and the Bridgwater Gateway Development an unnecessary and unjustifiable intrusion on farmland close to the residential area of North Petherton.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to take all possible steps to ensure that permission for EDF Energy to proceed with the Hinckley Point C Nuclear Development should be conditional on the construction of a northern bypass for Bridgwater from Junction 23 of the M5 to connect with the A39 west of Cannington.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Mr Ian Liddell-Grainger, Official Report, 19 July 2011; Vol. 531, c. 906.]

[P000946]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Transport, received 3 October 2011:

It would be for the developer to put forward a transport strategy as part of any development consent application, for consideration by the Infrastructure Planning Commission. Interested parties would be able to make representations on the application through the planning process.

There are clear statutory and policy frameworks in place governing arrangements for processing and determining planning applications and applications for development consent for major infrastructure projects—including matters relating to conditions, obligations and requirements. It is important that these are adhered to. It would be inappropriate for the Government to comment on any specific aspect of a prospective planning or development consent application, or speculate about conditions that may or may not be applied by the decision-maker to any eventual consent.

Dartford Crossing Tolls

The Petition of residents of Dartford and readers of the Dartford Messenger newspaper,

Declares that the Petitioners are opposed to any increase in tolls charged for the Dartford Crossing.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Department for Transport not to increase tolls on the Dartford Crossing and to reconsider the emergency measures to lift the barriers during severe congestion and extend the local residents discount scheme.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Gareth Johnson, Official Report, Wednesday 14 September 2011; Vol. 532, c. 1146 .]

[P000960]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Transport, received 3 October 2011:

The Government have not yet made any decisions regarding the future ownership of the Dartford Crossing.

I understand that several key factors need to be considered in the decision-making process including whether a new concession structure would provide better value for the taxpayer, the flexibility needed to provide possible additional crossing capacity in the future, and how user charging policies would be affected.

The Budget statement (22 June), confirmed that decisions will be made on the possibility of providing future additional crossing capacity and the possibilities for letting out a concession at the conclusion of the spending review.

High Speed Rail

The Petition of residents of South Northamptonshire and others,

Declares that the Petitioners are strongly opposed to the proposed high speed railway; declares that the Petitioners believe it to be a massive waste of money; declares that it will destroy miles of beautiful countryside, thousands of homes and villages; and further declares that there is no business case or environmental case for this railway and upgrading existing rail networks is a better alternative.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to reconsider its support for the proposed high speed railway and support the upgrading of existing rail networks.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Andrea Leadsom, Official Report, 14 July 2011; Vol. 531, c. 585.]

[P000944]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Transport, received 3 October 2011:

The documents published to support the recent public consultation on high speed rail set out the Government’s case that a national high speed rail network would offer a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform the way we travel in Britain and would provide a step-change in rail capacity, speed and connectivity.

Analysis carried out by HS2 Ltd has indicated that the Government’s proposed Y-shaped network would generate monetised economic benefits with a net present value of around £44 billion and the first phase (from London to the West Midlands) alone would support the creation of more than 40,000 jobs. We estimate that over 50% of the benefits of HS2 would fall to cities and regions outside of London and the South East, helping boost long-term and sustainable economic growth and regeneration in the areas that need it most.

In respect of upgrades to the existing network, the Government are committed to one of the most far reaching programmes of rail capacity improvements since the Victorian era, despite the pressure on the public finances caused by the deficit. However, this will not be enough to deal with capacity pressure of the future which is why we have put forward our high speed rail proposals. Work carried out by Atkins on strategic alternatives to high speed rail concluded that major enhancement packages could provide only a fraction of the potential benefits of a national high speed rail network, while potentially creating significant disruption for travellers during the construction period and creating risks for service reliability.

In addition, the Government’s objectives for high speed rail are broader than can be achieved by simply upgrading current lines. High speed rail would offer potential to release capacity on the existing network, to promote economic growth and regeneration, and to enhance connectivity between inter-urban, urban and international networks, for example via new links to Crossrail and HS1.

The public consultation on the Government’s proposals for a national high speed rail network closed on 29 July 2011 and we are carefully considering all the responses received. I can assure petitioners that any responses they have submitted during the consultation period will be given thorough and detailed consideration.

I fully acknowledge the need to design any high speed line in a way which reduces local environmental and social impacts as far as possible. The Government have been clear that high speed rail must be delivered sustainably; balancing the benefits of high speed rail with the local impacts on landscapes and communities. I believe that through carefully designed mitigation measures the most intrusive local impacts can be eliminated and a solution found which is balanced and fair.

I expect to announce the Government’s response to the consultation process and our decision whether to proceed with the proposal by the end of this year.

Swansea Coastguard Station

The Petition of people concerned about maritime safety in the Bristol Channel,

Declares that the recommendation of the UK Government to close the Swansea Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre at Tutts Head, Mumbles, would endanger the lives and wellbeing of people on the water and around the coast of the Bristol Channel.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons press the UK Government to retain the Swansea Maritime Rescue Centre as a 24-hour staffed coastguard station.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Martin Caton, Official Report, 13 September 2011; Vol. 532, c. 1008.]

[P000957]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Transport, received 4 October 2011:

The future of the Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre at Swansea is a specific question within the wider consultation on the modernisation of the coastguard that I announced on 14 July 2011.

That consultation ended on 6 October 2011. The Government are considering all the responses to that exercise and will make an announcement in due course.