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Mr. Dobson : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what steps the Energy Efficiency Office has taken to persuade the cavity wall trade associations to develop and provide to consumers a common protection package backed by insurance guarantees ; and if he will introduce legislation to achieve this objective.
Mr. Wakeham : With the encouragement of the Energy Efficiency Office, the Office of Fair Trading and the National Cavity Insulation Association are discussing the production of a revised code of professional practice ; it is expected that this will give a wide range of consumer safeguards additional to current arrangements. I am hopeful that agreement can be reached on a satisfactory code without legislation.
Mr. Wakeham : The following table lists IEA member countries in order of energy ratio in 1987, the latest year for which figures are available, measured in tonnes of oil equivalent per $1,000 GDP at 1985 prices.
|Energy ratio --------------------------------------------------- Japan |0.26 Switzerland |0.28 Italy |0.33 Denmark |0.34 West Germany |0.42 United Kingdom |0.43 Spain |0.43 Austria |0.44 United States of America |0.44 Norway |0.46 Australia |0.48 Ireland |0.50 Netherlands |0.51 Sweden |0.54 Belgium |0.55 Greece |0.57 Portugal |0.62 New Zealand |0.63 Canada |0.64 Turkey |0.80 Luxembourg |0.85 Sources: Energy Balances of OECD Countries; OECD Main Economic Indicators.
These energy ratios are determined by many factors, including climate and industrial structure.
Mr. Peter Morrison : My right hon. Friend met the director of Neighbourhood Energy Action on 14 November to hear first hand about NEA's work and again on 22 November when he saw first hand, one of the community insulation projects which they help to co-ordinate. He expects to meet the director again shortly, but a date has yet to be arranged.
Mr. Wakeham : The Government, in conjunction with the nuclear industry, will need to assess future nuclear R and D requirements in the light of the prospects for nuclear power, both nationally and internationally from the mid-1990s.
Mr. Michael Spicer : Research into the problem of possible effects on human health of electric and magnetic fields from electricity power lines has failed to demonstrate a clinical effect upon human health from fields at electricity power frequencies.
A considerable worldwide research effort is continuing on the subject. The CEGB has been funding a programme of work over many years, much of it at independent laboratories, and research will continue when the electricity supply industry is privatised. Officials at the Department of Energy, the Department of Health, and the National Radiological Protection Board are keeping a watch on the research which is under way. We are by no means complacent, but at present we do not see evidence for serious concern.
47. Dr. Michael Clark : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what contribution the United Kingdom will be making to the European fast reactor over the next five years ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Wakeham : The fast reactor programme carried out by the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority contributes to R and D work in support of the European fast reactor conceptual design. The United Kingdom is also contributing towards the cost of this conceptual design work.
Mr. Peter Morrison : The number of British Gas customers disconnected for debt is now lower than at any time since records were first kept in 1977. This reflects the agreement which British Gas reached earlier this year with the Director General of Gas Supply on new methods of debt collection with a view to reducing the number of disconnections. I am sure that Ofgas and the Gas Consumers Council will continue to work with British Gas to ensure that this excellent result continues.
51. Mr. Michael : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy whether he has reviewed the projected completion date for the Severn barrage in the light of his recent discussions regarding nuclear energy ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Peter Morrison : Further work on the Severn barrage is continuing. This includes some site specific environmental work and a study of the organisation and financing issues for a barrage. Only when this work is complete will it be possible to review projected completion dates.
Column 109Mr. Michael Spicer : There have been no meetings since that described in the reply my right hon. Friend the Minister of State gave on 10 April at column 328.
Mr. Peter Morrison : My right hon. Friend met Mr. Norman Adsetts OBE, chairman of the Association for the Conservation of Energy, on 29 November. They reviewed the work which ACE and energy efficiency office have jointly undertaken to promote energy efficiency, such as the current series of joint seminars for industrialists and buildings professionals, and discussed the need to ensure that this constructive co-operation continues.
60. Mr. Wigley : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy how many representations he has had to date from local authorities in areas of proposed pressurised water reactor stations regarding requests for compensation for preparing of their submissions on the issue.
Mr. Michael Spicer : The only such representation which my right hon. Friend has received is in relation to the Central Electricity Generating Board (Combwich) Compulsory Purchase Order 1988, into which a public local inquiry commenced on 13 June 1989. Following the CEGB's decision to withdraw the compulsory purchase order a number of parties involved, including the consortium of opposing local authorities, has applied for my right hon. Friend to make an order requiring the CEGB to meet their costs arising from the public local inquiry.
We are awaiting any recommendation the inspector may make to the Secretary of State on the award of costs before proceeding with consideration of these requests. We have writen to all those requesting costs to advise them of this course of action.
61. Mr. McAllion : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy when he next proposes to meet the representatives of the United Kingdom Offshore Operators Association ; and what matters will be discussed.
Mr. Peter Morrison : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I meet the representatives of the United Kingdom Offshore Operators' Association (UKOOA) regularly to discuss matters of mutual interest.
71. Mr. Barry Field : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what advice and assistance is being offered by his Department to the countries of eastern Europe on how they might control and manage their energy needs more effectively.
In addition the Government have financed a reconnaissance mission led by the consulting arm of CEGB, through the know-how fund to look at the requirements of the electricity supply industry in Poland. It is expected that further assistance will be made available when the recommendations of the report have been considered. We would expect to help other countries with the modernisation of their power industries in accordance with their needs and when funds become available. A know-how fund for Hungary-- £25 million over five years--begins operating in April 1990.
Mr. Michael Spicer : The Government are committed to ensuring that the sulphur dioxide reduction requirements of the EC large combustion plants directive are met. The retrofitting of power stations with flue gas desulphurisation equipment will assist in achieving this. The choice of equipment to be used is a matter for the industry itself.
Mr. Peter Morrison : We are supporting a major research and development programme aimed at developing commercially viable and environmentally acceptable renewable technologies to contribute to future energy supply. Over £50 million is earmarked for expenditure over the next three years. Our plans to provide a special place in future for non- fossil fuel energy in the context of a privatised electricity supply industry should give a significant boost to renewable sources of energy. Around 600MW of capacity is being set aside exclusively for renewables during the 1990s as part of the non-fossil fuel obligation. There are clear signs that the obligation has already provided considerable encouragement to the development of renewables.
Column 111Technology transfer plans have been developed for each technology classed as economically attractive such as passive solar design of buildings and landfill gas. A wide range of promotional material has been produced to aid commercial deployment and raise awareness about the potential of renewable technologies. This includes our "Review" journal, information bulletins, project profiles and summaries of the results of research programme, technical reports, technical workshops and videos.
78. Mr. Kennedy : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what is his estimate of the value of business opportunities for the United Kingdom fabrication sector within the single European market post-1992 ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Peter Morrison : We expect new orders in goods and services on the UKCS in the early 1990s to be between £2.5 billion to £3 billion per annum, of which fabrication represents around 20 per cent. The UKCS will continue to represent some 70 per cent. of the offshore market in the Community. Given the competitiveness of United Kingdom fabricators, I would expect our industry to continue to win a substantial proportion of the work available in the Community.
Mr. Michael Spicer : Coal reserves in England generally have medium to high levels of sulphur--on average about 1.6 per cent. Reserves in parts of Wales and Scotland have a relatively lower sulphur content. Their recoverability is for the British Coal Corporation to assess.
Mr. Peter Morrison : Energy paper No. 55 "Renewable Energy in the UK : The Way Forward" was published in 1988 and gives our view on the development strategy for the renewable energy technologies to the year 2000, including wind and wave. It remains our intention to carry out the research programme as outlined in the energy paper.
Mr. Wakeham : None. However condition 14 of British Gas's authorisation as a public gas supplier requires it to provide guidance to customers on the efficient use of gas. My Department promotes the efficient use of gas and other fuels through the activities of the Energy Efficiency Office, and my officials have regular discussions with British Gas on energy efficiency matters.
Mr. Dobson : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what discussions he has had with British Nuclear Fuels Limited about feasibility studies of replacement for the Chapelcross and Calder Hall power stations.
Mr. Wakeham : I meet the Chairman of British Nuclear Fuels plc regularly and discuss a range of matters concerning the company. The feasibility study was one of the matters touched upon at my last meeting on 16 November.
Mr. Wakeham : I shall bring into force in due course section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989 under which my consent will be necessary before any power station, nuclear or otherwise, of a capacity greater than 50MW, can be constructed in England and Wales. Smaller stations will be subject to the requirements of the Town and Country Planning Acts.
In addition, a licence to install and operate a nuclear reactor must be obtained from the Health and Safety Executive under the Nuclear Installations Act 1965.
The construction of power stations in Scotland is a matter for my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland.
Column 113Mr. Dobson : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy whether he will direct British Nuclear Fuels Limited to publish details of the feasibility studies it is conducting into replacements for the Chapelcross and Calder Hall power stations.
Mr. Wakeham : The British Coal Corporation is responsible for estimating coal reserves. Its estimate of coal in place in the United Kingdom (that is, in seams over 60 cm thick and less than 1,200 m deep, minus coal which has already been worked) is 190 billion tonnes. Strictly recoverable reserves (that is, coal in known coalfields which could be extracted with existing technology) are estimated by the corporation at 45 billion tonnes. The amount of these reserves that would actually be workable would of course depend on economic circumstances at the time. Recoverable reserves from existing mines and certain new mine projects, including the extractable and saleable coal which is sufficiently proved, of adequate thickness and quality, and in a suitable mining environment, are currently assessed at between 3 billion and 5 billion tonnes.
Mr. Dobson : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy whether in the last 10 years he or his predecessors, either by direction or informally, secured changes in the accounting conventions followed by British Coal, British Gas, any electricity board, the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority, British Nuclear Fuels Ltd., Nirex, Amersham International, British National Oil Corporation, Britoil or Enterprise Oil, respectively ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Wakeham : The accounts of British Coal, British Nuclear Fuels, British National Oil Corporation, Britoil, Enterprise Oil, Nirex and Amersham International have been prepared under the historic cost convention throughout the period in question.
Boards in the electricity industry began producing accounts under the current cost convention from 1980-81, as did the Atomic Energy Authority from 1980-81 and British Gas from 1981-82. Previously accounts for these organisations had been prepared under the historic cost convention. The decision to prepare accounts under the current cost convention was taken by the organisations concerned, in the light of best accounting practice at the time.