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An important function of the NWDA is to provide leadership and encourage partnership working in delivery of the Regional Economic Strategy (RES). Across the Region, partnerships' capacity to properly engage in this varies greatly, particularly in securing private sector input. In key urban areas facing change, these vision boards are intended to provide dynamic, innovative and visionary support and advice for the development of local economic growth plans with a strong private sector input. They work closely with their relevant local authority and the relevant Local Strategic Partnership.
The NWDA has contributed the following amounts to enhance the capacity of the vision boards to steer and influence the development of economic regeneration plans; to support master-planning and to research the local economy:
The internal Board of Inquiry report on the incident at the Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant (Thorp) was published by British Nuclear Group and is available on their website at www.britishnucleargroup.com.
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Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 11 July 2005]: The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority is preparing advice on the options for the future of Thorp. That advice will include an assessment of the likelihood of further failure of the plant.
Alan Johnson: The part of the Patents Act 2004 relating to post-grant amendment is one of several provisions which will bring UK patents legislation into line with the revised European Patent Convention (EPC"). All such provisions will be brought into force at the same time as the revised EPC itself comes into force, which is desirable in order to maintain consistency between the UK and European patents systems. It is uncertain exactly when this will be, because the revised EPC takes effect 2 years after the 15th state has ratified or acceded, or (if earlier) three months after the final state has ratified or acceded. At present I understand that 14 states have done so, and therefore that the revised EPC, and the corresponding provisions in the 2004 Act, are very unlikely to take effect until mid-2007 at the earliest.
Alan Johnson: The refurbishment of 1 Victoria Street is a key part of the Department's two roof programme to rationalise its central London estate and will allow the Department to reduce its accommodation by approximately 30 per cent. The cost of the recently completed phase 1 of the programme covering the majority of the building is approximately £12 million and has resulted in the release of accommodation in four other London buildings which will generate long term savings of £7.7million annually.
Mr. Salmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what consultation preceded the decision to allow large hydro generators to downrate their plant below 20 MW to qualify for accreditation for renewables obligations certificates where turbine refurbishment had taken place; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) whether the decision on allowing new or refurbished hydro plant below 20MW to qualify for renewables obligations certificates was made (a) before and (b) after the end of the public consultation. 
The decision to allow all new and refurbished hydro plant under 20 MW to be eligible for renewables obligation certificates (ROCS) was made after the Renewables Obligation Preliminary
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Consultation, published October 2000 and was included within paragraph 2.17 of the Renewables Obligation Statutory Consultation, published August 2001 as:
The majority of responses to the preliminary consultation supported the exclusion of large scale hydro stations, which were constructed under public ownership. However, concern was expressed by the industry over the age of current stations and the need to refurbish them, and there has also been concern that some potential new developments could not proceed without support. We therefore propose to exclude existing stations with a declared net capacity (DNC) of over 20MW from the Obligation, but to include any station first commissioned after the date of the Order is made, regardless of capacity. We believe that these measures will encourage the refurbishment of existing stations of up to 20MW and will support any future scheme if planning permission can be secured".
Mr. Salmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will commission research on the transmission charging regime for generators in Scotlandto identify barriers to the development and implementation of renewable and carbon capture and abatement technologies in Scotland. 
Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 7 July 2005]: Responsibility for approving a transmission charging methodology rests with the independent regulator, Ofgem. Ofgem approved National Grid Company's proposed methodology in February 2005, following extensive consultation with the industry, and a consideration of the environmental impacts of the proposals. The Department commissioned independent consultants to investigate the impact of transmission charges on renewable generation in Scotland. Their report will be published later this summer, alongside the Government's proposals for adjusting transmission charges for renewable generators in a specified area of the North of Scotland.
Mr. Salmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether the review of the Renewables Obligation scheme has examined (a) hydro generators of over 20 MW capacity down-rating plant in order to apply for accreditation by Ofgem for renewables obligations certificates, (b) provision of renewables obligations certificates to hydro plant below 20 MW that upgrade to over 20 MW capacity, (c) the removal of the 20 MW limit for hydro plant receiving renewables obligations certificates and (d) the creation of a specific regime for hydro plant to encourage increases in output from this source. 
Malcolm Wicks: I am able to confirm that the current review of the Renewables Obligation has not examined either hydro generators of over 20 MW capacity down-rating plant in order to apply for accreditation by Ofgem for renewables obligations certificates, provision of renewables obligations certificates to hydro plant currently below 20 MW that upgrade to over 20 MW capacity, the removal of the 20 MW limit for hydro plant receiving renewables obligations certificates or, the creation of a specific regime for hydro plant to encourage increases in output from this source.
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will estimate the impact on output from hydro generators of the decision to allow down rating of plant to qualify for renewables obligation certificates; what the output from hydro in (a) the UK
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and (b) Scotland was in each year since 1997; and what the public subsidy for hydro per kw/h was in each year since 1997. 
Mr. Salmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether the review of the renewables obligation certificates is investigating the extension of the obligation in some form to cover (a) carbon capture and sequestration schemes, (b) carbon abatement retro-fit for existing coal and gas fired power stations and (c) plant which combines use of bio-mass with existing coal burning to reduce carbon emissions. 
Malcolm Wicks: I can confirm that the current consultation of the Renewables Obligation is not looking at either carbon capture and sequestration schemes, carbon abatement retro-fit for existing coal and gas fired power stations or plant which combines use of bio-mass with existing coal burning to reduce carbon emissions.
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