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John Hemming: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the impact of a reduction in the voltage on the national grid in the event of a one in 50 cold winter on (a) domestic and (b) commercial consumers. 
Malcolm Wicks: If voltage demand measures were needed to handle a short-term electricity shortage the most likely visible impact on consumers would be a slight dimming of lights and kettles would take longer to boil. Some sensitive, mainly commercial and industrial, electronic systems may be affected e.g. fire alarms.
Under the terms of the Grid Code, National Grid can direct Distributed Network Operators to implement short-term demand reduction measures. The Distributed Network Operators have a number of different tools available to deal with a request of this nature; these include short-term disconnection,
19 Oct 2005 : Column 1035W
interrupting supply to those customers whose contracts permit it or the use of voltage reductions. The severity of the situation would decide which of these measures were appropriate.
John Hemming: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what contingency plans are in place to deal with a possible shortage of natural gas during the winter of 200506; and what significant methods are available, in addition to limiting electricity generation, to reduce natural gas consumption. 
Malcolm Wicks: In the first instance the Government would expect demand for gas to reduce itself in response to price signals indicating tightness in the balance between supply and demand in the gas market. This has already been observed in previous winters, mostly from electricity generation but also, to a lesser extent, from large industrial users of gas. The scope for additional demand reduction from this sector was explored in a report, Estimation of Industrial Buyers' Potential Demand Response to Short Periods of High Gas & Electricity Prices: A report to the DTI and Ofgem by Global Insight", which is available from the DTI website under
The Government and Ofgem have been working with large industrial users to encourage the provision of more timely and easily accessible information to help market participants to identify commercial opportunities for such demand-side response.
In the extremely unlikely event of the situation deteriorating to the point where the market is no longer able to balance itself, powers to restrict gas supply are available to the national emergency co-ordinator at National Grid and to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State under applicable legislation.
Helen Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether a privatised British Nuclear Group would continue to take overseas contracts for the reprocessing of nuclear material in the UK; and if he will make a statement. 
The BNFL Board met on 29 September further to consider a number of strategic options for British Nuclear Group to give it the best chance of success in the future and place it in the strongest possible position to win the upcoming NDA site competitions. The preference of the Board is to pursue a sale, which they believe would be in the best interests of the company and its employees.
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Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many and what percentage of drums of high-level nuclear waste held at Sellafield have been classified by BNFL as not safe to be returned to foreign customers. 
Malcolm Wicks: At Sellafield, high-level nuclear waste is made safe for long-term storage by a process called vitrification. The vitrification process chemically bonds the liquid high level waste into a solid glass matrix which is held in a stainless steel container. These vitrified residue containers are then placed in an engineered store.
Approximately 20 per cent. of the vitrified residue containers scheduled to be produced over the lifetime of the vitrification plant at Sellafield will be returned to overseas reprocessing customers. The vitrified residue containers are manufactured to meet an agreed customer specification and in addition are certified by an independent third party auditor on behalf of overseas customers. To date over 1,000 containers have been certified as meeting this specification.
All vitrified residue containers produced are safely stored at Sellafield and will remain safe for long term storage. Of those containers produced for export to overseas customers none have been classified by British Nuclear Group as unsafe.
Malcolm Wicks: High level nuclear waste is made safe for long term storage by a process called vitrification. Vitrification chemically bonds the waste products into a solid glass matrix. The vitrification process is internationally recognised as the best available technology for the treatment and storage of such waste.
During the production of the vitrified residue containers, trace amounts of mainly non-radioactive chemicals may not be completely bound into the glass matrix. This is termed 'yellow phase' material and is soluble in water. While formation of such traces of soluble material cannot be entirely eliminated, its formation is rendered insignificant by the glass formulation chosen to incorporate the waste and the operating parameters to which the vitrification process is controlled.
Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the potential of Tees Valley offshore wind to help the Government achieve their target for renewable energy production by 2010. 
Malcolm Wicks: The application for consent for the Teesside offshore wind farm at Redcar is still being considered prior to its determination by Ministers. In taking the decision on the application, Ministers will be mindful of the Government targets for the take up of renewable energy and will balance these against any local impacts that have been identified during the public consultation exercise carried out for this project.
Mr. Peter Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many post offices were temporarily closed because of suspected fraud within their premises in the last year for which figures are available. 
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the (a) Government expenditure and (b) administration costs of regional development agencies was in each year since their creation; and what the estimated figures are for 200506. 
|Advantage West Midlands||103,423||7,421||112,674||8,352||140,678||8,793|
|East of England Development Agency||29,818||4,570||36,140||4,849||54,520||5,836|
|East Midlands Development Agency||41,117||6,941||67,197||7,377||86,070||7,488|
|London Development Agency||||||235,490||6,009||265,815||9,470|
|North West Development Agency||141,367||11,837||155,750||13,876||269,688||14,044|
|One North East||92,280||9,585||97,736||10,513||158,181||10,103|
|South East England Development Agency||63,473||5,196||73,235||6,343||97,322||6,643|
|South West Development Agency||43,028||7,255||61,736||8,380||84,780||9,099|
|Advantage West Midlands||204,133||13,862||239,854||17,300|
|East of England Development Agency||88,496||9,000||80,156||9,000|
|East Midlands Development Agency||100,706||10,200||116,795||12,000|
|London Development Agency||294,827||17,000||317,279||17,000|
|North West Development Agency||274,032||21,619||309,092||29,925|
|One North East||192,860||18,372||223,000||21,258|
|South East England Development Agency||111,911||14,303||135,706||16,395|
|South West Development Agency||102,856||14,242||99,052||16,044|
|Advantage West Midlands||217,281||18,500||272,312||20,000|
|East of England Development Agency||84,140||10,000||129,438||11,200|
|East Midlands Development Agency||118,774||13,668||155,963||15,000|
|London Development Agency||327,642||30,400||372,979||29,500|
|North West Development Agency||366,720||32,449||381,831||38,792|
|One North East||226,528||21,773||239,674||22,500|
|South East England Development Agency||110,225||16,868||157,159||18,000|
|South West Development Agency||113,368||15,944||153,092||19,773|
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