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Landfill can cause pollution of surface water, groundwater, soil and air, and can have an effect on the global environment, including the greenhouse effect.

The Government are committed to reducing the UK’s reliance on landfill in order to reduce its environmental impact and because it is a missed opportunity to recover value from waste. The increased cost of disposal at landfill, primarily as a result of the landfill tax, is leading to positive action by waste producers to minimise their waste arisings and deal with the waste that is produced in a more sustainable way.

Waste Management

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the Government have plans to give regional development agencies a role in (a) waste management and (b) waste planning. [104073]

Mr. Bradshaw: The consultation on the Review of the Waste Strategy contains proposals to strengthen the role of regional development agencies (RDAs) to co-ordinate waste and resource management at regional level with a particular focus on business waste management and resource efficiency. It is proposed that the RDAs will work with other regional bodies and local authorities in undertaking this role.

The consultation is now closed and we are carefully considering the responses received. A summary of responses to the consultation was published on 2 August and is available on the DEFRA website at http://www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/consult/wastestratreview/index.htm We intend to publish the revised Waste Strategy for England in the new year.

Mrs. James: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what (a) criminal conviction and (b) other checks are made of people applying for waste management licences; and what assessment is made of their competence to operate such licences. [105877]

Mr. Bradshaw: The Environment Agency (EA), as the competent authority for England and Wales, is responsible for issuing waste management licences.

Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and Waste Management Licensing Regulations 1994 (as amended), the holder of a waste management licence is required to be a ‘fit and proper’ person.


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A person shall be treated as not being fit and proper if it appears to the EA that she or he has been convicted of a relevant offence. The relevant offences are listed in regulation 3 of the 1994 regulations. However, the EA may exercise discretion to treat a person as fit and proper, notwithstanding the presence of a relevant conviction, and shall do so by reference to the continuance of the activities which are, or are to be, authorised by the licence and the fulfilment of the requirements of the licence.

In addition, the operation of the activities authorised by the licence must be in the hands of a technically competent person. Technical competence is generally demonstrated through a Certificate of Technical Competence (CoTC) awarded by the Waste Management Industry Training and Advisory Board, following the successful completion of a National/Scottish/Vocational Qualification. Regulation 4 of, and schedule 1A to, the 1994 regulations sets out the qualifications required for a person to be considered technically competent for different types of waste management facilities. There are some operations that do not operate within the CoTC awards, and in these cases the EA assesses whether the applicant is technically competent.

The licence holder also needs to be in a position to make adequate financial provision to meet the obligations arising from the licence.

Waste Strategy

Martin Horwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he expects the review of England's Waste Strategy to be published; and if he will make a statement. [103812]

Mr. Bradshaw: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Twickenham (Dr. Cable) on 16 October 2006, Official Report, column 91OW.

Trade and Industry

Age Discrimination

Mr. Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether the Government plans to bring forward legislation to prevent age discrimination in the provision of goods, facilities and services. [102391]

Meg Munn: I have been asked to reply.

The Discrimination Law Review is considering whether there is a case for prohibiting age discrimination in the provisions of goods, facilities and services. We expect to publish a Green Paper early next year. The Green Paper is intended to lead to a Single Equality Bill, in line with the Government’s manifesto commitment to introduce such a Bill this Parliament.

Civil Nuclear Constabulary

Mr. Vara: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many officers were employed by the Civil Nuclear Constabulary and its predecessor body the UK Atomic Energy Authority Police in each of the last 10 years. [105993]


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Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 28 November 2006]: The numbers of officers employed by the Civil Nuclear Police Authority and its predecessor were (at 31 March each year):

Number

1996

483

1997

473

1998

471

1999

519

2000

531

2001

539

2002

557

2003

569

2004

568

2005

616

2006

658


Community Interest Companies

Mr. Prisk: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many companies have registered with the independent regulator as Community Interest Companies. [103323]

Margaret Hodge: The number of Community Interest Companies (CICs) registered between 1 July 2005 and 24 November 2006 when the Community Interest Company Regulations 2005 were introduced, is 591.

Energy Bills

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the average domestic (a) electricity and (b) gas bill was in England in each year since 1996-97. [104107]

Malcolm Wicks: The average domestic electricity and gas bills for England and Wales are shown as follows. The data presented are for standard credit customers in cash terms, and have not been adjusted for inflation.

£
Electricity bill Gas bill

1996

295

330

1997

283

328

1998

266

315

1999

260

304

2000

253

295

2001

246

293

2002

244

310

2003

245

320

2004

251

333

2005

281

386

2006(1)

329

474

(1) Provisional.

Energy Saving

Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment his Department has made of the potential impact of the adoption of the Merton rule by local authorities on the UK market for micro renewable technologies. [103076]


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Malcolm Wicks: The adoption of the so-called “Merton Rule” (generally a requirement for a certain percentage of the energy needs of new developments to be provided by renewable sources) could potentially have a significant impact on the market for micro-renewables, particularly as the Minister for Housing has encouraged all local authorities to set such targets. A study carried out for my Department by the Energy Saving Trust (Potential for Microgeneration?Study and Analysis) assessed the implications of a similar policy on the microgeneration (micro-renewables and micro-CHP) industry. It concluded that such a policy could be one of the most effective ways of stimulating the mass market introduction of microgeneration in the medium to long-term, but the main beneficiaries would be CHP technologies rather than micro-renewables.

Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much household grant is payable under his Department's low carbon buildings programme for (a) a micro wind turbine costing £1,500 and (b) a solar hot water system costing £4,000. [103115]

Malcolm Wicks: Under the Low Carbon Building programme household grant for a micro wind turbine costing £150 would attract a grant of £500 (£1,000 per kW limited to a maximum of 30 per cent. of eligible costs excluding VAT). For Solar thermal there is a flat grant of £400 grant regardless of the cost of the installation. It is important to note that grants levels take account of nearness to market for the different technologies.

Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps his Department plans to take to ensure that the 2003 Energy White Paper commitment to a 2002 to 2012 solar PV Demonstration programme is achieved. [103116]

Malcolm Wicks: Since 2002 the Government have committed £41 million to the Major PV Demonstration programme and PV field trials. The Low Carbon Building programme, launched in April 2006, has a £80 million budget over three years and will support renewable technologies including Solar PV. To date, of the £4.6 million committed under the household stream of the programme (Phase 1), over 50per cent.(£2.4 million) is supporting PV projects.

In addition, the Government’s micro generation strategy will be tackling those barriers hindering the development of a sustainable market for microgeneration technologies.

Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what his estimate is of the total demand for household grants under the low carbon buildings programme in 2006-07. [103117]

Malcolm Wicks: When the Low Carbon Buildings Programme was launched in April 2006, £6.5 million was set aside for the household stream in 2006-07. In order to meet the higher than anticipated demand, a further £6.2 million of the total £28.5 million funding was re-allocated to the household stream on 25 October 2006. We continue to process grant applications for householders.


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Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimate he has made of the average daily (a) electricity demand, (b) energy demand and (c) total carbon emissions caused by each rise of one degree in average daily temperature from -20 degrees Celsius to 30 degrees Celsius. [103123]

Malcolm Wicks: The DTI has no estimates of impacts on energy demand over this range of temperatures. Any sustained daily temperatures recorded at the limits of these ranges are likely to result in significant changes in behaviour for which there is no historic experience. We are not aware of any studies which address this question. A comparison between the CO2 emissions estimates from the UK Greenhouse Gas Inventory and temperature data from the Met Office suggest that emissions can vary by several percent from year-to-year due to temperature difference, although exact attribution of causes is not straight forward.

Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when household grant allocations under the Low Carbon Buildings programme will come to an end. [103249]

Malcolm Wicks: We announced on 25 October 2006 that we would be re-allocating £6.2 million of the total £28.5 million funding to the household stream. This will give a total pot of £12.7 million, which on projected demand levels should allow householder funding to continue until June 2008. By this time, some of our wider measures to promote microgeneration should be taking hold, and we believe the sector may have matured to a point where householder grants are no longer necessary.

Enterprise Areas

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many designated enterprise areas there are; and how many businesses were based in these areas (a) in 2003 and (b) on the latest date for which figures are available. [102860]

Margaret Hodge: There are 1,997 Enterprise Areas in the UK. These comprise the 15 per cent. most deprived of wards/areas in England and Scotland and the 42 per cent. most deprived of wards in Wales and Northern Ireland.

The latest data publicly available show that in March 2000 there were over 235,000 VAT-registered enterprises in English Enterprise Areas and around 25,000 VAT-registered enterprises in Welsh Enterprise Areas. No data are publicly available for Scotland or Northern Ireland.

Data on business stock in Enterprise Areas for 2003 and subsequent years are not available due to changes to the geographic functions for which this information is held. These figures could be produced only at disproportionate cost.

The VAT registered business stock does not represent all businesses. Businesses are unlikely to be registered if their turnover falls below the compulsory VAT threshold, which was £51,000 at the start of 2000. Only 1.7 million out of 3.7 million businesses in the UK (46 per cent.) were registered for VAT at the start of 2000.


29 Nov 2006 : Column 688W

Gas Industry

John Hemming: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimate he has made of how much more gas would enter the UK were Europe's gas markets to be liberalised. [101911]

Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 21 November 2006]: It is not practical to make an assessment of the level of gas that would flow into the UK as a result of European liberalisation. A liberalised market would lead to increased imports and exports of gas between the UK and Europe in turn leading to more efficient allocation of resources and potential benefits to consumers in both UK and continental Europe. In particular improved liquidity of gas in European markets could provide incremental gas in times of demand peaks and lead to a reduction in price volatility in the longer term.

John Hemming: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will assess the effects on UK gas prices of the storage practices of overseas gas companies which import gas into the UK; and if he will make a statement. [102438]

Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 23 November 2006]: Subject to their regulatory obligations, it is up to gas suppliers how they balance their supply-demand position. The European Commission has undertaken a sectoral inquiry, which has identified access to long-term downstream contracts, capacity on pipelines and gas storage as priorities for individual competition investigations. The Commission aims to reach conclusions by January 2007, and will then pursue infringement of EU competition law as appropriate.

It is not practical to provide the particular estimates that the hon. Member requests, because that would require detailed market assessments against a hypothetical model of how the continental and GB gas storage markets might operate. However, Ofgem recently estimated that around an extra £1 billion could have been added to the cost of GB wholesale gas in winter 2005-06 as a result of gas flows from the Bacton-Zeebrugge Interconnector failing to respond to the relative UK and Continental gas prices. This can be found at:


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