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Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the security of electricity supply in the Vale of York. [196741]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: I am arranging an investigation into one particular complaint with regards to a series of power cuts in the Green Hammerton parish council area in the Vale of York.

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Health on the health effects of electricity pylons. [196744]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: None.

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent research she has evaluated on the health effects of electricity pylons. [196745]

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Mr. Mike O'Brien: A comprehensive report was published on 31 March 2004 by the National Radiological Protection Board. The contents of the report and the accompanying advice to Government have been welcomed by Government and are being acted upon.

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions she has had with National Grid Transco on the health effects of electricity pylons. [196746]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: My officials and those in the Department of Health hold ad hoc discussions with National Grid Transco on issues that may have a bearing on possible ill health effects from high voltage overhead lines.

EU Emissions Trading Scheme

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the role of her Department is in respect of the EU Emissions Trading scheme. [196845]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has the lead responsibility for the EU ETS.

DTI's role is to consider all aspects of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) that impact on the energy and business sectors. This includes making sure that the competitiveness of UK industry is maintained and ensuring that issues affecting security of supply, energy prices and North Sea oil and gas production are taken into account.

In addition, DTI has the responsibility for the energy and carbon dioxide projections that form an integral part of the UK's National Allocation Plan under the EU ETS.

DTI has substantially contributed to policy development in relation to new entrants and closures.

DTI also supports the industry-led Emissions Trading Group and assists business on opportunities arising from emissions trading through UK Trade and Investment and the joint DTI/Defra Climate Change Projects Office.

Gas Network

Mr. Clapham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how her Department interprets the value for money criterion in terms of connecting communities to the mains gas network; what estimates her Department has made of the number of communities and households not connected to the network for whom cost-effective connection is possible; what sources of funding are available to extend the gas network; and what contribution her Department makes to this investment. [197069]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The economic viability of connecting individual communities to the gas network will depend on a wide range of circumstances. Over 1,200 clusters of more than 150 households lie within 2 km of a gas main. It is likely that the communities that could most economically be connected to the network would fall within this group. A wide range of funding sources is available to facilitate connections. These will
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also vary from community to community, but include the Energy Efficiency Commitment, Warm Front and the European Regional Development Fund and contributions from gas transporters and suppliers. The Department's Design and Demonstration Unit is working with local authorities and others to design, develop and deliver pilot gas extension projects as a model for further activity.

Nuclear Clean-up

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent initiatives she has taken in respect of co-operation on nuclear clean-up with the Russian Federation Atomic Energy Agency; and what resources have been committed to this collaboration. [197206]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The UK is a key contributor to the G8 Global Partnership against weapons and materials of mass destruction, which was established at the G8 Kananaskis Summit in 2002, where the Prime Minister committed up to $750 million over 10 years. Under this programme the UK is working in partnership with the Russian Federation and other international partners on a variety of areas including redirection of former weapons scientists, improving protection of nuclear and radioactive material, and nuclear clean-up and submarine dismantlement in North West Russia. The annual budget for the UK's programme is £32.5 million.

The UK's nuclear clean up programme in the Russian Federation is primarily focused on two major projects near Murmansk—the Atomflot facility where the UK is funding a storage site for spent nuclear fuel and Andreeva Bay, where we and other international donors are contributing to making spent nuclear fuel assemblies safe and secure. The UK has also funded the decommissioning of two Oscar class submarines at the Zvezdochka shipyard near Archangelsk and is an active participant in the Arctic Military Environmental Programme alongside Norway, the US and the Russian Federation. Negotiations are also under way on various other programmes where final decisions on funding have not yet been reached. The total UK contribution to these projects amounts to £19 million in 2004–05 and approximately £23 million in 2005–06.

In December 2004, the Department of Trade and Industry, jointly with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Defence, will publish a second Annual Report on the UK's programmes under the G8 Global Partnership, which will be placed in the Library of the House.

Nuclear Waste

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will ask the Chairman of the new Nuclear Decommissioning Authority to provide an estimate of the additional volumes of (a) low, (b) intermediate, (c) high level and (d) plutonium contaminated nuclear wastes that will be added to the current stockpiles of each of the radioactive waste categories as a result of the continued operation of (i) Thorp and (ii) the Sellafield Mox Plant. [196423]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The information requested is contained in the 2001 UK Radioactive Waste Inventory. This provides estimates of the additional volumes of
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wastes expected to be produced from Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant (THORP) and the Sellafield Mox Plant (SMP). Routine low level waste sent to Drigg is expected to total around 15,000 cubic metres. Around 5,400 cubic metres of conditioned intermediate level waste and about 400 cubic metres of conditioned plutonium contaminated material (PCM) is also estimated. Vitirfication will reduce future amounts of high-level liquid waste to around 280 cubic metres.

It has been the position since 1995 that all HLW from overseas reprocessing will be returned to BNFL's customers. The programme to return overseas high level reprocessing wastes is planned to begin in 2007–08.

Power Cuts

Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the risk of power cuts in the UK this winter; what measures are in place to ensure such risk is kept to a minimum; and if she will make a statement. [196958]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The Government are committed to maintaining secure energy supplies—it is one of the four goals of the Government's energy policy as set out in the Energy White Paper, published last February.

A market-based approach is the best way of delivering energy security.

National Grid's assessment in their "Winter Outlook Report" is that there is enough electricity generating capacity to meet demand even in a very severe winter. The forecast plant margin is over 20 per cent., and it could rise further if generators bring more mothballed plant back into service.

Through the Joint Energy Security of Supply Working Group (JESS), the DTI and Ofgem continually monitor developments in the market, and look for ways of helping the market to work effectively to deliver secure energy supplies. We also provide valuable information to market participants, which can help them to plan investment decisions.

However, we can never guarantee that supplies will always be 100 per cent. secure. Storms and their aftermath remain the most likely cause of disruption this winter. I have therefore sought assurances from the electricity distribution network operators that they have done everything which can be reasonably expected of them to maintain network resilience this coming winter; and that they are implementing the recommendations outlined in the Network Resilience Working Group report "Proposals for Improved Storm Performance for Electricity Distribution Networks", published last December.

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