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Review of Adventurous Training (Northern Ireland)

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Mr. Adam Ingram): On 10 May this year I announced the structure of the new peacetime garrison in Northern Ireland reflecting the Government’s global defence commitments. I said then that the future of the site at Laurel Hill House, Coleraine, would be subject to a review of adventurous training provision. That review is now complete and has concluded that the needs of the new smaller garrison can satisfactorily be met from other retained sites, and that there is no requirement to retain Laurel Hill House. We plan therefore to close the Laurel Hill House site by August 2007.

Laurel Hill House has provided vital facilities for military personnel and their families during Operation Banner. The staff, past and present, have provided an excellent service for their visitors. But as the structure of the garrison in Northern Ireland changes and the number of military personnel and their families reduce, there is no requirement to retain the facility. The Army Careers Information Office (ACIO) that is currently located within the Laurel Hill House complex will be relocated to the TA Centre in Artillery Road Coleraine. This will improve its visibility and accessibility to potential recruits.

There are 22 civil servants currently working at the Laurel Hill House site, including one civil servant at the ACIO. We continue to consult with the trades unions in respect of the future requirement of civilian staff in support to the military in Northern Ireland. We will, of course, seek to avoid the need for compulsory redundancy as far as possible through transfer and voluntary early release. The Department is fully committed to supporting all civilian staff at every stage of this period of change.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Waste Framework Directive

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Mr. Ben Bradshaw): I am pleased to announce that the Government, in association with the Devolved Administrations, is today publishing a consultation paper on the European Commission’s proposal to revise the waste framework directive and related EU legislation.

In December 2005 the European Commission published (a) a thematic strategy on the prevention and recycling of waste (the waste thematic strategy); (b) proposals for associated legislation comprising (i) a revision of the waste framework directive (the WFD), (ii) the repeal of the waste oils directive and (iii) the repeal and integration of the hazardous waste directive into the revised WFD; and (c) an impact assessment. These documents are available on the commission’s website at:

Under the Austrian presidency, the Council of the European Union held a policy debate on the waste thematic strategy and the associated legislation when EU Environment Ministers met on 9 March 2006; and the Council adopted conclusions on the strategy at its meeting on 27 June 2006. Following adoption of those conclusions, negotiations on the revision of the WFD are now taking place under the Finnish presidency.

The Government are therefore publishing a consultation paper inviting views on the revision of the WFD. The purpose of doing so is to ensure that the UK’s involvement in the negotiations on the legislation is well informed and has an evidence base which is as sound as possible. Views are invited from anyone who has an interest in waste prevention, is a producer of waste, has an interest in the collection, transport, recovery or disposal of waste, or has an interest in waste as a dealer or broker. The consultation paper includes a partial regulatory impact assessment on which views are also invited.

The paper is being published for a 12-week consultation period—with comments requested by 5 January 2007. However, in view of the Finnish presidency’s aim of making significant progress on the revised WFD, stakeholders are invited to submit their comments before the deadline wherever possible. Copies of the consultation paper are being placed in the Libraries of the House. The consultation paper is being sent to a wide range of organisations and is also available on the Department’s website at

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

British Embassy (Dili)

The Minister for Trade (Mr. Ian McCartney): Further to the announcement of the former Foreign Secretary my right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw), to Parliament in 2004 that our Embassy in Dili would close by the end of 2006, it has
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now been decided that the post will close on 13 October. As agreed at the time of the original decision, the responsibility for East Timor will shift to the British Embassy in Jakarta from this date. An Honorary Consul will also be appointed. The Government of East Timor has been informed.

Trade and Industry

Regional Development Agencies

The Minister for Industry and the Regions (Margaret Hodge): I have decided to appoint the new Board Members listed at annexe A and to reappoint the Board Members, listed at annexe B. The new appointments will all be for a period of three years; the reappointments will also be for a period of three years with the exception of Rob Anderson of the South East Development Agency (SEEDA) who will be reappointed for a further two years.

The new appointments, with the exception of Fiona Pollard (SEEDA), and the reappointments will begin on 14 December 2006 and will expire on 13 December 2009. Fiona Pollard took up appointment on 1 September 2006, in order to fill an existing Board Member vacancy, and her appointment will expire on 13 December 2009.

I have placed further details of both the new appointments and reappointments in the Libraries of both Houses. All of them were made in accordance with the code of practice of the Commissioner for Public Appointments.

Annexe A: New Appointments


Advantage West Midlands (AWM)

Brendan Connor

East of England Development Agency (EEDA)

Peter McCarthy-Ward

William Pope

South East England Development Agency (SEEDA)

Pamela Charlwood

Robert Goldfield

Sue John

Fiona Pollard

Alex Pratt

South West Regional Development Agency (SWRDA)

John Savage

Annexe B : Reappointments

All reappointments commence on 14 December 2006

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Advantage West Midlands (AWM)

Roger Lawrence

Michael Oakes

David Smith

Michael Sterling

East of England Development Agency (EEDA)

Karen Livingstone

John Snyder

Tim Wilson

North West Regional Development Agency

Joe Dwek

Dave McCall

South East of England Devlopment Agency (SEEDA)

Rob Anderson

Peter Jones

Phil Wood

South West Regional Development Agency (SWEDA)

Catherine Bakewell

Duncan Hames

Christine Reid

Winter Energy Supply

The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Mr. Alistair Darling): The National Grid Winter 2006-07 Consultation Report published by Ofgem on 21 September continues to indicate the possibility of a tight supply-demand balance for gas this winter. But it also makes it clear that energy supply should meet daily demand under all likely weather-related scenarios. The winter electricity generating margin is expected to be around 22 per cent. The Met Office winter forecast published in September indicates near-average winter temperatures overall, with possibly some colder weather later in the winter.

The wholesale price of gas for this winter has fallen since I made my last statement to the House on winter energy supply. Energy prices however remain of concern to domestic and industrial users. The Government are therefore continuing to work actively to ensure that everything possible is done to maximise supplies of gas to the UK for the coming winter and to mitigate the impacts of price rises.

Gas supplies from the UK continental shelf will continue to meet a significant proportion of UK gas demand: about three-quarters of demand on an average winter day. The balance is made up from imports and stored gas.

Since my last statement to the House, there is now greater certainty that new import infrastructure will be available this winter. The Langeled pipeline, connecting the UK to the Norwegian continental shelf, is now flowing gas from Norway, on schedule. The upgrade of the Belgian Interconnector (linking Bacton and Zeebrugge) has been completed ahead of schedule. The BBL (Balgzand-Bacton) pipeline, which will flow gas from the Netherlands, is on course to begin operation on 1 December. The Teesside offshore Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) importation project is on schedule to be available in the New Year. The Rough long-range storage facility is back in operation following last winter's fire. Levels of gas in storage ahead of the winter are healthy.

My Department has been working closely with the energy market regulator Ofgem, National Grid and business to ensure early action is taken to maximise gas and electricity supplies for the coming winter and to ensure good communications with industry. I have jointly chaired with Richard Lambert of the CBI two meetings of the new Business Energy Forum ahead of the winter, to ensure that accurate and timely information is available to businesses.

The Government are also working with energy suppliers and others to reach vulnerable domestic customers, particularly pensioners on low incomes. A range of programmes including Warm Front and the Decent Homes Standard contribute to tackling fuel poverty and to improving the energy efficiency and
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comfort of the homes of vulnerable customers. Expenditure on winter fuel payments amounts to some £2 billion per year.

Beyond this winter, from 2007-08 the gas supply-demand balance should ease further, with access to gas supplies from the new Norwegian Ormen Lange field, new LNG importation facilities at Milford Haven, and more storage. This is part of the £10 billion of actual and planned investment in gas supply infrastructure and related transportation expected between 2005 and 2010.

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In July the Government published the conclusions of their energy review. This set out the framework for ensuring secure and affordable energy supplies in future years.

The Government will be taking forward the further work arising from the energy review over coming months.

I will update the House on further developments as the winter progresses.

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