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28 Jun 2005 : Column 1409W—continued


John Hemming: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans he has to deal with monopsonies and oligopsonies with particular reference to (a) supermarkets, (b) disintermediation and (c) small shops. [7727]

Mr. Sutcliffe: The prime responsibility for operating our competition regime rests with the independent competition authorities. In the specific case of supermarkets it is the Office of Fair Trading, which is currently responsible for keeping under the review the Code of Practice governing supermarkets' relations with their suppliers and for dealing with any other competition issues in the sector.

Onshore Wind Technology

Mr. Sarwar: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what action he is taking to support newly emerging renewable technologies other than onshore wind farms. [6906]

Malcolm Wicks: The Government are providing just over £500 million of support between 2002–08 to help develop emerging renewable and low carbon technologies. This will take the form of spending on R&D and funding for capital grants. Onshore wind is not eligible for capital grants, except in the case of small community schemes supported under Clear Skies.

Funding includes grants of £117 million for offshore wind, over £60 million for energy crops and biomass, £31 million for PV, £12.5 million for community schemes and as announced last year, £50 million for the setting up of a Marine Renewables Deployment Fund.

On 14 June, it was announced that a £40 million–four year funding package to support demonstrations of carbon abatement technologies (£25 million) and hydrogen and fuel cell technologies (£15 million).

Total public expenditure on research and development for renewable energy sources for 2003–04 was estimated at over £29 million.
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Opencast Mining (Scotland)

Sandra Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions he has had with the Scottish Executive on the implications of new planning guidelines for opencast mines in relation to meeting Scotland's future energy requirements. [6103]

Malcolm Wicks: None. At the Scottish Executive's invitation, officials commented on the draft Review of National Policy Guideline 16 before it was submitted to Scottish Executive Ministers ahead of the public consultation period.


Stewart Hosie: To ask the Secretary of State for Tradeand Industry if he will bring forward legislation to make it illegal for a timeshare operation to dispose of timeshare development without offering full compensation based on the true value of each owner's holiday week. [7194]

Mr. Sutcliffe: I have no plans to bring forward legislation of the type described by the hon. Member. The conditions under which a timeshare resort owner is able to sell a resort will be a matter of the contracts he holds with the timeshare owners. The cross-border nature of the industry and the difficulties which this can cause in cases where individual timeshare owners feel they have a case to pursue against their resort supplier are such that issues of the type alluded to in the question are best considered in the European context.

I have written recently to Commissioner Kyprianou to urge him to ensure that the projected review of the operation and scope of the Timeshare Directive (implemented in the UK by the Timeshare Act 1992 as amended) is given urgent attention. Industry and consumer stakeholders will have the opportunity to present the Commission with evidence of failings in the regime in the course of the review, as will the Department and the Office of Fair Trading.

Wind Farms

Mr. McGovern: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the risk to sea birds of placing a large wind farm in the Thames Estuary; and if she will make a statement. [7011]

Malcolm Wicks: The potential impacts of offshore wind farm projects are considered in detail during the process that determines whether to grant consent for those projects. In support of an application for consent, the applicant will undertake an assessment of a wide range of impacts of the project, the results of which will be submitted in the form of an environmental statement with the application.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will, in determining the application, consider the results of a wide ranging public consultation exercise on the applicant's assessment that will include English Nature and other relevant bodies as necessary.

The Department of Trade and Industry has commissioned and part-funded with Defra and wind farm developers, a comprehensive programme of aerial bird surveys in each of the three strategic areas used for
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Round 2 of offshore wind farm leasing including the Thames Estuary. The programme is already providing valuable information about bird populations in those areas which will be utilised by developers, regulators and consultees in their deliberations of wind farm impacts.


Concessionary Fares

1. Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of the cost to his Department of the concessionary travel fare scheme for pensioners. [7334]

Mr. Darling: The Government will provide an extra £350 million in 2006–07 which they believe will be sufficient to fund the cost to local authorities.

Crossrail (London Olympic Bid)

14. Angela Watkinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport on the implications of the Crossrail project for the London Olympic Bid. [7347]

Derek Twigg: Discussions were held as part of preliminary work, before the decision to bid was made in May 2003. Crossrail is not, and never has been part of London's Olympic Bid.

Rail Utilisation Strategy (West Midlands)

15. Dr. Tony Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the West Midlands Rail Utilisation Strategy. [7348]

Dr. Ladyman: The document is currently being finalised and it will be published soon.

Road Fund Tax

16. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of current levels of evasion of the road fund tax. [7349]

Dr. Ladyman: Vehicle excise duty evasion is measured by annual roadside surveys of around 1 million vehicles. The 2004 survey indicated that vehicle excise duty evasion stood at 3.4 per cent. of the revenue due (around £129 million per annum).

National Road Pricing System

17. Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the introduction of a national road pricing system. [7350]

Dr. Ladyman: In line with their manifesto commitments, the Government are examining the potential of moving away from the current system of motoring taxation towards a national system of road pricing.
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Road Improvements

19. Greg Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects work to begin to dual the A21 between Tonbridge and Pembury if the project is prioritised by the South East England Regional Assembly. [7352]

Dr. Ladyman: If the current regional prioritisation exercise should give this scheme a high priority the earliest that construction could start is 2008. In the meantime the Highways Agency will continue to develop the scheme towards publication of draft orders and, if necessary, public inquiry.

Road Improvements

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent discussions he has had with the Highways Agency about plans to improve the A417 between Nettleton Bottom and Brockworth bypass, Gloucestershire; and if he will make a statement. [7353]

Dr. Ladyman: Although the Secretary for State has had no recent discussions with the Highways Agency he is aware that the Agency has been developing this scheme. The scheme is not currently in the Government's Targeted Programme of Improvements.

The trunk road network has been divided into two categories: routes of national importance and routes of predominantly regional significance, with the intention of getting greater regional input into transport spending decisions. The A417 is an important regional road, so the next step will be for the South West Region Planning Body to advise where this scheme should rank alongside other transport schemes in the region. Ministers will then decide whether the scheme should be added to the programme.

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