Written Answers. - Juggernaut Traffic.

84.

asked the Minister for the Environment if his attention has been drawn to the condemnation of the Irish Government made by the influential Transport 2000 Group for its failure to seek an extended period of derogation on the entry of 40 tonne juggernauts into Ireland; if he will introduce a traffic management plan for dealing with these juggernauts, similar to those operating in most other European countries, banning these vehicles from major urban centres and from Dublin in particular; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Council Directive 85/3/EEC of 19 December 1984 [OJ No. L.2 of 3/1/1985] fixed a maximum gross vehicle weight of 40 tonnes for five and six axle articulated trucks and road trains circulating internationally. The limits became operative in EC member states — except Ireland and the UK — on 1 July 1986. Ireland and the UK secured a derogation to retain a national limit of 38 tonnes because of the need to improve the roads infrastructure — notably bridges — to carry the heavier lorries.

In January 1989 the EC Commission submitted a comprehensive report to the EC Council of Ministers on the duration of the derogations for Ireland and the U.K. The EC Commission proposed that the derogation should end by 31 December 1996. Ireland accepted the terminal date proposed by the EC Commission — on the understanding that the cost of the strengthening/replacement of bridges would qualify for EC grant aid at the maximum rate. The UK have not yet announced their view on the Commissioner's proposal. The EC Council of Transport Ministers hope to decide the terminal date at their meeting in Luxembourg on 5 and 6 June 1989.

I do not propose to provide for a legal prohibition on lorries in major urban centres. The transport objectives of the operational programme for roads include: the provision of an adequate inter-urban network of national roads linking major urban centres, ports and airports; the reduction of urban congestion by providing new river crossings, ring roads and relief roads; and the elimination of traffic bottlenecks by the by-passing of towns on national roads. These measures are designed to minimise, as far as practicable, the need for lorries to go through urban centres en route to a destination on the national road network or to an important port.