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4 Dec 2002 : Column 842W—continued

Post Offices

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many (a) post offices and (b) sub post offices there were in (i) Chesham and Amersham and (ii) Buckinghamshire in (A) 1975, (B) 1980, (C) 1985, (D) 1990, (E) 1995, (F) 2000, (G) 2001 and (H) 2002. [85133]

Mr. Timms: [holding answer 3 December 2002]: I am informed by Post Office Ltd. that historic data in the form requested are not available as the company does not require this data for operational reasons.

However, in 1999, the Post Office undertook a special exercise to determine the number of post offices in each Parliamentary constituency in response to the then hon. Member for Birmingham Erdington on 29 November 1999, Official Report, column 22W. I further understand from Post Office Ltd. that it compiled a list of post offices by Parliamentary constituency as of 20 April 2002 showing their classification as urban or rural offices. A copy of this list is held in the Libraries of the House.

Regional Economic Performance

Mr. Yeo: : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what progress has been made towards the target set in 2000 for achievement in 2001–04, to improve the economic performance of all regions, as measured by the trend in growth of each region's GDP per capita. [83687]

Ms Hewitt [holding answer 26 November 2002]: It is not possible yet to assess whether there has been an improvement against the baseline for this target. This is because of the long-term nature of the target and the time lags in getting the relevant information to measure the target.

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Measurement of trend rates of growth per capita will use a similar methodology to that used by the Treasury to estimate national trend GDP growth i.e. by calculating average growth rates between points when the economy can be identified a being 'on trend'.

Regional Government Offices (Telephone Queries)

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what guidelines are given to regional government offices for answering hon. Members' queries by telephone. [84079]

Mr. Leslie: I have been asked to reply.

No specific guidelines have been sent to government offices on answering telephone inquiries from MPs. However, they act in accordance with the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.

Regional Policy

Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions she has had with the Mayor of London on the Government's policy on promoting a model of economic growth that would not discourage development in the regions of the UK. [84665]

Alan Johnson: I meet the Mayor of London from time to time to discuss a range of issues in connection with the Mayor's Economic Development Strategy and the work of the London Development Agency.

Renewable Energy

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the national base resource scenario for onshore wind targets is with regard to (a) minimum average wind speed, (b) maximum wind farm density, (c) spacing of the centres of the wind farms from each others and (d) minimum and maximum wind farm size. [84558]

Mr. Wilson: The UK windspeed database is available on the DTI website at windspeed/online.html. The database contains estimates of the annual mean windspeed throughout the UK. The data is intended as a guide as on-site measurements are needed for a proper assessment of any individual site. It does not set scenarios for onshore wind targets.

The British Wind Energy Association estimates that wind turbines start operating at wind speeds of 4 to 5 metres per second (around 10 miles an hour) and reach maximum power output at around 15 meters/second (around 33 miles per hour). At very high wind speeds, i.e. gale force winds, (25 metres/second, 50+ miles/hour) wind turbines shut down.

Project specific matters such as wind farm density, spacing and size are issues for project developers to consider. All onshore wind farms are subject to the relevant planning regime and developers must seek consent to construct and operate wind farms from the relevant planning authorities. Decisions are taken on a case by case basis.

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what support the Government is providing for community combined heat and power schemes based on renewable energy. [85103]

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Mr. Wilson: The Bio-energy Capital Grants Scheme, which is run jointly by DTI and the New Opportunities Fund with input from DEFRA, included funds for combined heat and power derived from biomass, in particular energy crops, in its recent call for proposals (which closed on 31 October).

DEFRA runs the £50 million Community Energy programme which encourages combined heat and power in community heating schemes through grants. Around one quarter of the successful bids to the programme have included the use of alternative or renewable fuels.

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the Government's initiatives on educating (a) local authorities and (b) the public on the objectives of the national drive towards renewable energy generation; and how much funding is being dedicated to these initiatives. [85112]

Mr. Wilson: The Government are currently carrying out a review of future energy policy with a view to issuing a White Paper in the new year. As a part of this review they are considering the role of local authorities and the engagement of communities in the development of renewable energy.

Within the allocation of £2.5 million for renewables planning, Government Offices have included awareness raising events in their bids.

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how host communities of renewable energy projects benefit in terms of revenue royalties from such projects; and what plans she has to introduce further royalty-based benefits for host communities of renewable energy projects. [85114]

Mr. Wilson: When the community owns and runs renewable energy installations, they can sell the resulting electricity or excess electricity (where the project provides their own source of electricity) or they can sell the resulting Renewables Obligation Certificates (ROCs). The Community Renewables Initiative is working on means to enable community schemes to aggregate their electricity generation in order to obtain ROCs and improve their viability.

Additionally, there will be a number of installations under the forthcoming DTI Community and Household Scheme and the joint DTI/New Opportunities Fund Biomass Grant Scheme which will be owned and run by the host community. Such schemes can also benefit through the sale of ROCs.

A number of communities also gain from leasing their land to developers of renewables projects (eg National Wind Power's Windworks scheme and a number of crofting schemes).

The Energy White Paper, due to be published early in the new year, will address a range of issues including the engagement of communities in renewable energy developments.

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Solar Photovoltaic Industries

Mr. Blunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when she last met representatives of the European and Japanese solar photovoltaic industries. [84754]

Mr. Wilson: I and my ministerial colleagues have regular meetings with representatives of the UK and global PV industry to discuss the UK market and the development of PV manufacturing in this country.

Mr. Blunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much public funding is available for training and skills development in the solar photovoltaics and solar thermal industries; and if she will make a statement. [84757]

Mr. Wilson: For solar photovoltaics there is no specific funding from central Government for training and skills development. However, funding is available through the Department of Trade and Industry's Renewable Energy Programme and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council's Supergen Programme to support research and development projects. In addition, the Faraday INREB (Integration of New and Renewable Energy in Buildings) Partnership has a particular focus on training. A UK company is also involved in an EU ALTENER project to develop a training course for PV installers under City & Guilds, and there are a number of other training courses being developed in response to the DTI's Major Photovoltaics Demonstration Programme (PV MDP). Finally, the DTI is running an Installer Accreditation scheme under the Management Contract for the PV MDP.

For Solar Thermal, the DTI has funded two projects under its Renewable Energy R&D Programme. One entitled XThe Creation of a Training Infrastructure for the Installation of Active Solar Systems" (ETSU Report S/P3/248/REP), and the other under the EU ALTENER Programme, entitled XTraining Plumbers to Design and Install Solar Water Heating Systems for Households" (ETSU Report S/P3/272/REP). There is also a network of Solar Clubs around the country, which aim to teach their members the basics of how to install a solar water heating installation for themselves. Finally, it is also the intention that the forthcoming Community and Household Renewables Scheme will also operate an installer accreditation scheme for the installers of small-scale renewable technology installers, including solar water heating systems.

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