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Nuclear Industry

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what proportion of BNFL's liabilities for (a) radioactive waste and (b) decommissioning is attributed to THORP; and what proportion of the decommissioning costs estimated for THORP will be covered by overseas baseload contracts. [15851]

Mr. Wilson: In accordance with standard accounting practice, information about BNFL's liabilities and provisioning are included in the company's annual report and accounts. The details of BNFL's contracts with overseas THORP baseload reprocessing customers are a commercial matter for BNFL and its customers under Exemption 13 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.

Miners' Pension Schemes

Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what sums the Government have obtained annually as guarantors from surplus arising from the (a) mineworkers' pension scheme and (b) British Coal staff superannuation scheme since 1994, at constant prices. [16661]

Mr. Wilson: The cash values of receipts from the two schemes since payments began in 1996–97 are as follows:

£ million

YearBCSSSMPSTotal
1996–9739.50.039.5
1997–9839.5113.0152.5
1998–99107.1113.0220.1
1999–2000107.10.0107.1
2000–0153.9257.0310.9
2001–02216.0196.0412.0

The Department's calculation of the value of these sums at 2000–01 prices, using the GDP Deflator is as follows.

23 Nov 2001 : Column: 564W

£ million

YearBCSSSMPSTotal
1996–9743.70.043.7
1997–9842.3121.2163.5
1998–99111.7117.9229.6
1999–2000109.00.0109.0
2000–0153.9257.0310.9
2001–02210.7191.2401.9

Miners' Compensation

Tony Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the average level is of (a) interim and (b) final payments made to date to former miners and their estates under the chronic bronchitis and emphysema compensation scheme. [16694]

Mr. Wilson: Interim payments are made in a wide range of circumstances and vary widely in value. Claimants who are in receipt of the Industrial Injuries Benefit, PD D12, automatically receive an interim payment of £2,000. Further interims are offered where an expedited offer is made to a claimant, who subsequently rejects the offer and elects to undergo the full Medical Assessment Process or MAP. Where there is an outstanding issue prohibiting a full and final offer, an interim payment is made, the percentage determined by IRISC, the Department's claims handlers. Interim payments are also advanced to the estate or widow, subject to certain criteria cited in the Handling Agreement, of between £3,500 and £7,500. Interest is applicable. To date, over 41,300 interim payments have been made, amounting to £159.5 million. This averages at £3,857, although some claimants may be eligible for more than one payment.

Full and final offers including expedited payments vary widely. Expedited offers are made between £2,050 and £14,500. To date, over 12,800 settlements have been made to the value of £68.2 million. This averages at £5,293 per claimant.

Renewable Energy

Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what research the Government are conducting into underwater tractors used to plant wind farms off the Dutch coast. [16726]

Mr. Wilson: The Department's wind R&D programme has offshore wind as a key priority, and specifically:


To date no proposals have been put forward to evaluate the concept of installing offshore wind turbines using tractors or other devices that have the capability to drive along the seabed rather than using surface vessels. Consequently there has been no research on the programme in this area. The opportunity for industry to conduct research in this area remains.

Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what research her Department is conducting into the problems of off-shore wind turbines, with particular reference to fatigue caused by waves and wind vibrating the structure in rough weather. [16724]

23 Nov 2001 : Column: 565W

Mr. Wilson: The Department is currently supporting a project addressing this area. It is monitoring the loads, waves and wind on the UK's first offshore wind turbines at Blyth. It will provide the data and analysis to improve our understanding of the design loads and assumptions that should be used in these more severe offshore conditions, especially the treatment of combined wave and wind loading for both fatigue and extreme loads.

The objectives of the project are:


The project is due for completion in 2003, but papers on the interim results are expected in advance of this.

Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what research is being conducted by her Department into designing a lattice tower that can change its stiffness and resonant frequency by causing hydraulic pistons to control the rigidity of the diagonal cross bars for off-shore wind turbines. [16734]

Mr. Wilson: The Department's wind R&D programme attaches priority to offshore wind and specifically to the following aspects of offshore wind R&D projects:


To date no proposals have been put forward to design a lattice tower that can change its stiffness and resonant frequency by causing hydraulic pistons to control the rigidity of the diagonal cross bars for off-shore wind turbines. Consequently there has been no research on the programme in this area.

Aggregates

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much (a) aggregate and (b) concrete product by weight was imported to Britain in the last 12 months for which figures are available. [16702]

Mr. Wilson: During the 12 months to June 2001, the United Kingdom imported some 380,000 tonnes of aggregate and some 50,000 tonnes of concrete products.

Wave Power

Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will (1) list the proposed wave power developments awaiting planning permission in (a) Scotland, (b) England, (c) Wales and (d) Northern Ireland, giving their predicted output in kilowatt hours; [16334]

Mr. Wilson [holding answer 20 November 2001]: The information is as follows.

23 Nov 2001 : Column: 566W

(a) In Scotland, the LIMPET shoreline device in Islay has a maximum capacity of 500 kW, although it does not generate at this level at present.

There are no operational wave power installations in England, Wales or Northern Ireland.

There are no proposals for wave power developments awaiting planning permission in Scotland, England, Wales or Northern Ireland.

Wave power offers a substantial source of renewable energy for the future and the Government are actively seeking to encourage its development.

Regional Development Agencies

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what is the annual (a) running cost and (b) budget for each of the regional development agencies. [16447]

Alan Johnson [holding answer 20 November 2001]: The RDA's gross budgets and administrative budgets for 2001–02 are as follows:

£000

Net budget(13)Administration budget
One North East157,75510,653
North West Development Agency276,21514,044
Yorkshire Forward218,1349,989
East Midlands Development Agency86,7177,488
Advantage West Midlands159,8018,793
East of England Development Agency58,2475,836
South East Development Agency97,8517,143
South West Development Agency84,6639,099
London Development Agency277,1429,470
Total1,416,52582,515

(13) Excluding receipts



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