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Radioactive Contamination

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what reports she has received from the UK Atomic Energy Authority in respect of the recent incidences of plutonium contamination of operators at the pulsed column laboratory at the UKAEA Nuclear Installation at Dounreay; and if she will make a statement. [199636]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The Department has been informed of the potential intake of radioactive material by operators at the pulsed column laboratory at Dounreay. The regulators, Health and Safety Executive's Nuclear Inspectorate, are aware and are monitoring the situation. The contamination was discovered through what are called "routine nose-blow checks". Biological monitoring of fifteen operators is currently being undertaken , which will take a number of weeks to complete. The initial four results from biological monitoring have shown doses of less than 4 per cent. of the annual limit for radiation workers. As a precaution the building where the operators were working has been closed, pending further investigation.

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will estimate the volume of radioactively contaminated soil within the perimeter fence at the Hunterston A nuclear power plant; what the identity of the contamination is; what its average activity is per cubic metre; what the source of the contamination was; when (a) the operator and (b) her Department first learned about the contamination; whether information on volumes of contaminated soil is to be included in the 2004 edition of the National Radioactive Waste Inventory; what plans have been made for the removal of the contaminated material; and what the estimated cost is for dealing with the contamination. [199661]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The estimated volume of land that could potentially have been impacted by historical operations dating back to the 1970's at Hunterston A is around 81,000 cubic metres. This is the figure quoted in
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the draft Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) plan recently published for consultation and also forms part of the Life Cycle Base Line for Hunterston A.

Radioactively contaminated land at Hunterston A is mainly a result of the station's operational phase that ceased in 1990. Some of the contamination came from the on-site open-air cooling ponds through wind blown contamination within the site. Some were caused by spills from effluent lines within the site boundary and steps were taken at the time to prevent a recurrence.

As part of the decommissioning strategy for Hunterston A, an extensive programme of work is currently taking place to better quantify the volume and levels of radioactively contaminated land and their significance and to evaluate and formulate options for the future management of this land. Until this work is completed, it is not possible to estimate the costs involved.

The current (2001) Radioactive Waste Inventory contains relevant information and I am advised by the site operator that the 2004 Inventory is expected to contain similar information.

Renewables Obligation

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if, in her review of the Renewables Obligation, she will take account of the impact on renewable obligation certificate trading of companies that have defaulted on their payments because of (a) insolvency and (b) other factors; and what additional (i) incentives and (ii) sanctions are being considered to make the scheme more effective. [199411]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: A separate consultation on the Renewables Obligation Order 2005 is addressing, among other things, the impact on renewable obligation certificate trading of companies that default on their payments to the Renewables Obligation buy-out fund. The consultation paper includes a number of proposals to make the scheme more effective including surcharges on late payments and mutualisation in the case of defaults. Mutualisation in this context refers to other suppliers making additional payments to make good the shortfall caused by a defaulting supplier. These additional payments would then be recycled to suppliers who met their share of the obligation through renewable obligation certificates, in the same way as the main buy-out fund.

This consultation, which precedes the main Review of the Renewables Obligation, closes on 1 December. Amendments are planned to take effect from 1 April 2005.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will publish the submissions made (a) to her in advance of her review of the Renewables Obligation and (b) to that review. [199412]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: This has already been done. Following the consultation on the Terms of Reference for the Review of the Renewables Obligation, which was conducted in August/September 2004, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry published a full version of
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responses received. These can be accessed at:

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State intends to publish the responses to all subsequent consultations in the same way, except where an organisation has requested confidentiality, in line with Government guidance on good practice in relation to consultations.


Aircraft Noise

Mr. Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what guidance his Department has given to local authorities with regard to the impact of aircraft noise on growth areas. [200477]

Charlotte Atkins: Government guidance on the impact of aircraft noise is provided for English local authorities in the planning guidance note PPG 24-Planning and Noise.

Exeter/Barnstaple Railway

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the future of the Exeter to Barnstaple railway line. [199828]

Mr. McNulty: The Exeter to Barnstaple route is currently part of the Wessex Trains franchise, which, when it expires in 2006, will form part of the new Greater Western franchise. Under the Strategic Rail Authority's Community Rail Development Strategy, published on 22 November, the line is proposed to be designated as a Community Rail line. The Strategy aims to increase the number of passengers using rural rail lines.

Pedestrian Deaths

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many pedestrian deaths in road accidents there were where the pedestrian had over 100 mgs of alcohol per 100 mls of blood in each of the last six years; and what percentage of all pedestrian road accident deaths in (a) England and (b) each region this represents in each case. [199920]

Mr. Jamieson: The estimated percentage of pedestrian fatalities in Great Britain who had blood alcohol levels over l00 mg/l00 mls are shown in the following table, for the last six years for which data is available. These are published annually in "Road Casualties Great Britain: Annual Report". Estimates are not available for England or by region.
Percentage of pedestrian fatalities with blood/alcohol l00mgs/ml


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Rail Crossings (South-west)

Mr. Flook: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many (a) projects and (b) proposals there are in the South West for (i) bridge and (ii) tunnel rail crossings. [200093]

Charlotte Atkins: There are two provisionally approved local authority projects and one Highways Agency project that include rail bridges. A further two projects are currently awaiting ministerial decisions. There are no projects that include tunnel rail crossings.

Mr. Flook: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many road crossings with automatic gates over high speed tracks there are in (a) the South West region and (b) Somerset. [200094]

Mr. McNulty: This is an operational matter for Network Rail. Network Rail will write to the hon. Member.

Rail Services

Miss Widdecombe: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he plans to announce his decision on (a) the Integrated Kent Rail Franchise, (b) the CTRL domestic service pattern to East, South and North Kent and (c) placing orders for the new rolling stock for the CTRL domestic services. [199719]

Mr. McNulty: Four bidders have pre-qualified for the Integrated Kent Franchise competition and an initial Invitation to Tender was issued on 5 January 2004. The final Invitation to Tender is being finalised and the SRA intends to issue this to bidders before the end of the year. A stakeholder briefing setting out the future service pattern for Kent services will be published at the same time. Hitachi was announced as preferred manufacturer on 27 October this year and is working with industry partners to finalise technical issues. Rolling stock contracts should be signed early in 2005.

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