Previous Section Index Home Page

18 May 2007 : Column 998W—continued

18 May 2007 : Column 999W

An example of a successful new nanotechnology enterprise is Durham Scientific Crystals (DSC). DSC is a spin-out company from Durham University’s Physics Department. The Company, formed in April 2003, is actively involved in developing proprietary semiconductor materials. In partnership with the University, it has worldwide exclusive rights to commercially exploit a patented technology. The research was supported by One NorthEast and the Research Councils prior to the spin-out from the University, and Cenamps has supported DSC since formation. DSC has subsequently received £1 million funding from US-based venture capitalist Amphion Innovations, which will help take the business to its next stage of development.

Natural Gas: Storage

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what his policy is on ‘ramming the pipes’ as a means of gas storage. [136741]

Malcolm Wicks: Linepack—the industry term for increasing the volume of gas stored within a pipeline system by operating at pressures closer to the maximum design operating pressure—is one of the tools used by gas transmission companies for managing short-term variations in the gas supply-demand balance. This is a commercial matter, subject to economic regulation by Ofgem and safety regulation by the Health and Safety Executive.

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many applications for gas storage facilities were (a) made and (b) successful in each of the last 15 years. [136742]

Malcolm Wicks: One application has been made by a licensed gas transporter seeking a storage authorisation order to store gas underground in natural porous strata under the Gas Act 1965. The application by Caythorpe Gas Storage Ltd for a storage authorisation order for its Caythorpe Gas Field project in the East Riding of Yorkshire is being considered at a public inquiry together with a related compulsory purchase order and related planning appeals.

All other applications for gas storage facilities have been dealt with by local planning authorities in the normal planning regime under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

North Sea Oil

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much public money the Government spent on the UK’s North sea oil and gas fields in each year since 1997. [136811]

Malcolm Wicks: Expenditure on programmes relating to UK North sea oil and gas fields (Oil and Gas Maximising Recovery Programme and predecessor
18 May 2007 : Column 1000W
programmes, and the Offshore Geology Programme) is set out in the following table.

Financial year £ million





















It is difficult to identify the exact portion of DTI running costs relating to oil and gas fields for each year of the period but in 2006-07 a further £3.5 million was dedicated to maximising production from the UK’s oil and gas fields.

Nuclear Power

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, South and East Cleveland of 3 May 2007, Official Report, column 1817, on nuclear power, if he will ensure that the evidence provided on nuclear security issues to the Energy Review 2006 is incorporated in the consultation paper on nuclear energy. [137341]

Malcolm Wicks: Our nuclear consultation will endeavour to bring together all the evidence and analysis, including nuclear security issues, which we have collected since the Energy Review began. It will help people to reach informed views and provide us with valuable contributions, which will help inform the Government’s decision in the autumn.

Nuclear Power: Manpower

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps his Department is taking to ensure that the UK has an adequate supply of people with the skills needed to apply nuclear and radiological technology. [136829]

Malcolm Wicks: The Government have assisted in the establishment of a sector skills council to represent the needs of the nuclear industry. Cogent Sector Skills Council, working with employers, is taking a strategic view of the nuclear sector to ensure that the education and training base can meet the nuclear employers' current and future needs. The nuclear industry, working with Cogent, has successfully competed for a national skills academy through the Department for Education and Skills academy programme. The Nuclear National Skills Academy is at the business planning stage which is expected to be finalised shortly. The academy, which is employer-led, is designed to deliver high-quality training provision and drive up standards in the nuclear industry.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council has a portfolio of new activities in support of nuclear skills and research which include £6.1 million
18 May 2007 : Column 1001W
for a research consortium to address the challenge of “keeping open the nuclear option” and £1 million for a “Nuclear Technology Education Consortium” to provide masters-level and continuing professional development training for the nuclear industries. Both lever additional funding from industry.

Overseas Trade: India

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans he has for a trade mission to India in the near future; and what steps he plans to take to improve trade relations with India. [136808]

Mr. McCartney: There is a sustained high level of ministerial commitment to improving the UK’s trade relations with India. The annual Prime Ministers' summit agenda has a significant trade and investment content. Completion of the Doha development round, further liberalisation of Indian markets and support for UK companies bidding for business in India are recurrent features of all ministerial interaction with Indian counterparts. The next bilateral business event focusing on investment is due to take place in India in the autumn of 2007 as part of the Prime Minister’s visit. To coincide with the Chancellor's visit to India, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry was accompanied by a 150-strong business delegation to the Joint Economic Trade Committee (JETC) meeting in New Delhi in January 2007. Business-led working groups are addressing the barriers and opportunities in India in sectors of importance including financial and professional services, infrastructure and health care.

The Chancellor announced the increase in UK Trade and Investment's support to the Indo British Partnership Network (IBPN) by providing funding of £1 million a year. In addition, UKTI is increasing its level of resource to India, both by adding new staff to commercial sections and by recruiting a number of business advisers in the UK to assist firms looking to trade with high growth markets such as India. India features as a priority for all the sectoral support activities undertaken by UKTI. The English regions and all the devolved administrations are also actively promoting business opportunities.

Post Offices: Standards

Richard Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps he plans to take to ensure continuity and consistency in monitoring the provision of Post Office services during the introduction of new national access criteria on behalf of consumers whilst Postwatch is merged into the National Consumer Council. [137745]

Jim Fitzpatrick: We recognise the importance of ensuring that the role Postwatch will play in relation to post office network change is not adversely affected by the establishment of the new National Consumer Council. Work is being carried out to determine what arrangements should be put in place to ensure that that does not happen. Postwatch is involved in these discussions.

18 May 2007 : Column 1002W

Richard Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether the regional (a) council members and (b) committees of Postwatch are expected to play a role in monitoring the implementation of new national access criteria to post offices for the duration of the programme. [137746]

Jim Fitzpatrick: Post Office Ltd and Postwatch have reached agreement on the role of the Consumer Council during local consultations on area plans, and it is expected that regional council members and committees will be involved in the development of area plans and subsequent local consultations.

Radioactive Materials: Transport

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what permission is required for British Nuclear Group Sellafield Ltd and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority to send radioactively contaminated metals from decommissioning facilities at Sellafield to the Studsvik decontamination plant in Sweden. [136343]

Malcolm Wicks: The import and export of radioactive waste is subject to a system of control and prior authorisation under Council Directive 92/3/Euratom and the Transfrontier Shipment of Radioactive Waste Regulations 1993. The Environment Agency is the competent authority that issues such authorisations to export radioactive waste from, and import it into, England and Wales.

The proposed shipments of contaminated metal from Sellafield, for recycling in Sweden, are in line with the Government’s policy for the long-term management of low-level radioactive waste, announced on 26 March this year. The radioactive products of overseas treatment of radioactive waste are generally returned to the UK, with the metal being recycled in the country where the smelting process is carried out.

Redundancy: Pregnant Women

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimate his Department has made of the number of women who were made redundant after becoming pregnant in each of the last five years for which figures are available. [138201]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Labour Force Survey estimates that 191,000 women were made redundant in the UK in 2006; this is around 1.6 per cent. of all female employees. For the previous four years, the total numbers of female employees made redundant are as follows:










However, the Labour Force Survey does not identify which of these women were made redundant after becoming pregnant, nor are reliable estimates available from other sources.

18 May 2007 : Column 1003W

Renewable Energy

Michael Gove: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the cost implications are of the EU’s 2020 biofuel and renewable energy targets. [137516]

Malcolm Wicks: The European Commission estimates that meeting the target of 20 per cent. of energy consumption to come from renewable sources (including 10 per cent. biofuels) will cost between £24 billion and £31 billion across the EU in 2020. This is a central estimate of the additional costs to production for the whole of the EU—the number is based on modelling and will be sensitive to assumptions on technology costs, innovation rates, energy prices and carbon prices in the period to 2020.

The UK is considering the European Commission’s analysis and its implications for the UK.

Turbines: Health Hazards

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment his Department has made of the effects on humans of low frequency noise from wind turbines. [136846]

Malcolm Wicks: In 2004 the Department commissioned Hayes McKenzie to report on claims that infrasound or low frequency noise emitted by wind turbine generators were causing health effects.

Hayes McKenzie reported to the Department in May 2006 and the report concluded that there is no evidence of health effects arising from infrasound or low frequency noise generated by wind farms.

A copy of the report can be found at

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what account his Department plans to take of the World Health Organisation Guidelines for Community Noise 1999 report in its guidance on wind turbine noise levels. [136847]

Malcolm Wicks: The Department uses the ETSU-R-97 guidance for wind turbine noise levels. There are no plans to review these limits.

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will assess the merits of instituting a statutory minimum distance of separation between wind turbines in excess of 1MW installed capacity and (a) residential and (b) business dwellings. [136848]

Malcolm Wicks: Current planning guidance expects proposals to be evaluated on the likely impacts taking into account the characteristics of particular locations. The likely impact of noise from wind turbines on local residents and those working in the vicinity is always considered in relation to the existing background noise levels. Acceptable separation distances for a turbine located within an industrial area differ from those for one located in a rural area.

18 May 2007 : Column 1004W

The topography of the location, wind speeds and presence of natural barriers will also influence the levels of audibility in relation to nearby dwellings. For this reason, we do not intend to introduce inflexible separation distances. We continue to support the approach set out in Planning Policy Statement (PPS) 22—Renewable Energy: that it is for local planning authorities to

using the 1997 report by ETSU to assess and rate noise from wind energy developments.

Overall, the minimum desirable distance between wind turbines and occupied buildings calculated on the basis of expected noise levels and visual impact will usually be greater than that necessary to meet safety requirements arising from structural failure. The Companion Guide to PPS22 states that fall over distance (i.e. the height of the turbine to the tip of the blade) plus 10 per cent. is often used as a safe separation distance.

UK Coal Operating Aid Scheme

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much was paid out by the UK Coal Operating Aid Scheme in each year since 2000. [136791]

Malcolm Wicks: The UK Coal Operating Aid Scheme was launched by the DTI in November 2000. Its aim was to allow those elements of the UK coal industry with a viable future without aid to overcome short-term market problems (in particular, low world coal prices and the lifting of the stricter gas consents policy) and to prevent a sudden and sharp decline in the size of the coal industry.

A total of £162,170,995.00 was awarded between 2000 and 2002 in four tranches broken down as follows:

Next Section Index Home Page