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8 Dec 2004 : Column 595W—continued

Power Stations

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps she is taking to encourage the retrofitting of clean-coal technology to UK power stations; and what percentage reduction in carbon emissions from such stations she estimates such action would achieve. [202737]

Mr. Mike O'Brien [holding answer 6 December 2004]: DTI is developing a Carbon Abatement Technology Strategy to address the future requirements for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from large-scale power generation in the UK using fossil fuels, including coal. The issue of retrofitting of cleaner-coal technology to UK power stations to reduce carbon dioxide emissions is being considered within this strategy which is due to be published in the new year.

In addition, the EU emissions trading scheme comes into effect from 1 January 2005. This scheme will encourage UK power stations to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions. The retrofitting of cleaner coal technologies is one of many options available to power station operators to achieve this.

The actual carbon dioxide emissions reduction from retrofitting of more efficient cleaner coal technologies to UK power stations would depend on the specific design and operating conditions of the technology fitted and that which it was replacing. However, as an indication, savings in the range of 10–20 per cent. of carbon dioxide emissions should be possible with the retrofitting of such technologies to coal power stations.
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Radioactive Chocolate

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the storage of chocolate radioactively contaminated following the fire at Windscale in 1957. [200708]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: A fire broke out in Pile 1 on 10 October 1957, and was extinguished on 11 October. Radioactivity was released to the environment. The main public health concern was the contamination of locally produced milk by the short-lived isotope iodine 131. Milk produced within 80 square miles of the site was banned from 12 October, and the ban was extended to 200 square miles on 15 October.

At that time, the chocolate manufacturer Rowntree ran a factory in Egremont, close to the Windscale site. Records in one UKAEA file show that on 8 November 1957 Rowntree wrote to seek compensation for 90 tons of chocolate milk crumb manufactured between 11 and 15 October, which they believed to have been contaminated as a result of the Windscale fire. UKAEA contested this claim on the grounds that

The correspondence continued for some months, culminating in an exchange of letters between the Chairman of Rowntree and Sir Donald Perrott of UKAEA. Rowntree acknowledged

but stated that in the interest of customer relations and commercial prudence, they wished to have the crumb destroyed or disposed of. They sought the UKAEA's help to do so, and offered to meet the costs incurred. UKAEA agreed

on Rowntree's behalf.

Science and Technology Select Committee

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will investigate the allegations made by Dr. Robin Lovell-Badge of improper coercion of Task Force members by Professor Colin Blakemore, concerning the Medical Research Council Task Force examining the future of the National Institute for Medical Research, in his evidence to the Science and Technology Select Committee on 1 December; and if she will make a statement. [202185]

Ms Hewitt [holding answer 6 December 2004]: The Science and Technology Committee is currently conducting an inquiry into the future of the Medical Research Council's (MRC) National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR). I understand that this will include the process by which MRC reached its decisions. As the allegations regarding improper coercion were made during an oral evidence session for this inquiry, I will wait with interest for the Select Committee's report and recommendations before deciding whether any further action is needed.

Telephone Preference Service

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the
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powers to (a) issue penalties and (b) take other actions against companies and individuals who do not adhere to the requirements of the Telephone Preference Service. [202090]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has responsibility for the enforcement of the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) scheme. A company or individual which breaches their enforcement notice commits a criminal offence subject to a fine of up to £5,000 in a magistrates court.

Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council

Mr. Hood: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the outcome was of the Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council held on 29 November; what the Government's stance was on the issues discussed, including its voting record; and if she will make a statement. [201341]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: As Minister for Energy and E Commerce, I represented the UK at the EU Energy Council in Brussels on 29 November.

The Council considered several matters of interest to the United Kingdom. Chief among these were the Energy Services Directive and the Security of Electricity Supply Directive.

A general approach on the Security of Electricity Supply Directive was agreed, though the Commission, which seeks a more interventionist regulator-led approach to promote actively new interconnector build and thereby competition, maintained a reserve on Article 7 on interconnector construction.

Council conclusions were agreed on the Commission's Communication on the share of Renewable Energy in the EU.

An orientation debate was held on the proposed Energy End Use Efficiency and Energy Services Directive. Member States expressed a strong preference for indicative not mandatory energy saving targets though views were mixed on whether a uniform target at EU level would be helpful; many delegations preferred.individually set targets. There was general recognition that the public sector could play a leading role in promoting energy efficiency but the majority of Member States opposed specific targets for the sector. On the question of the placing of obligations on suppliers there was a clear preference for a broader more flexible approach rather than a focus on one energy efficiency approach—energy services. There was broad agreement that a harmonised approach to measuring energy savings was needed, but there was a split on whether a top down or bottom up approach was best.

The UK noted our support for a uniform, but indicative, six-year target taking account of already captured efficiency gains; a more broadly defined obligation on energy suppliers to actively offer and promote energy efficiency; and agreement with the Presidency proposal for either a top down or a hybrid approach to measuring efficiency gains.

The Commission's preference for a mandatory target reflected what they saw as the poor record of achievement against indicative targets and they suggested that flexible mandatory targets might be the
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way forward. The Presidency concluded by proposing an annual debate on progress towards achieving indicative national targets, the first of which would fall to the UK Presidency, and looked forward to concluding the dossier in the Luxembourg Presidency.

The Commission reported progress on the negotiations of the Energy Community for South East Europe Treaty, which it hoped would be a model for other sectors. Signature was foreseen for 2005. Some Member States had substantive comments on the language regime, others on the distinction between participating and observing Member States. The next negotiation meeting on 13 December will be an opportunity to discuss outstanding matters.

The Commission reported on its communication on progress on the EU/Russia energy dialogue 2000–04, claiming it showed positive outcomes across a range of fields. More progress in Russia was needed on the reform process, energy efficiency and Kyoto implementation, promoting and protecting investment and positive developments in the gas and oil markets. The Commission undertook fully to involve Member States.

The Presidency concluded by noting, in the context of the recent "Energy in Motion" conference aimed at improving cleaner road traffic, that transport accounted for a third of energy consumption. The conference conclusions would be discussed at the next Transport and Environment Councils and the Commission were urged to take account of them.

Luxembourg finished by saying they would take forward the Dutch Presidency approaches and singled out Energy TENS as a priority dossier.

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