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11 Jun 2007 : Column 771W—continued

Power Stations: Planning Permission

Frank Dobson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how long was spent considering the planning applications for each advanced gas-cooled reactor power station; and how long each took from the commencement of building work to reach design output. [140219]

Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 4 June 2007]: This information is not to hand in the Department given the length of time since advanced gas cooled reactor power stations were approved and constructed.

Radioactive Wastes: Waste Management

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans he has for the disposal of nuclear waste. [140355]


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Malcolm Wicks: In October 2006, the Government responded to the recommendations of the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM), and accepted that geological disposal coupled with safe and secure interim storage is the way forward for the long-term management of the UK’s higher activity radioactive wastes. Government also confirmed they are supportive of exploring an approach based on voluntarism and partnership with local communities. A consultation on the framework for implementing geological disposal is due to be launched during summer 2007.

If, as a result of the current consultation on “The Future of Nuclear Power”, Government conclude that nuclear has a role to play in the UK, the Government consider that geological disposal and robust interim storage would also be the best solution for dealing with waste from any new nuclear power stations.

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pursuant to paragraph 8.2 of the consultation paper on the future of nuclear power, for what reasons he decided to propose co-disposal of legacy and new radioactive waste arising in the same repository facilities; and what account he took of the advice of the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management on this matter as presented to Government in July 2006. [140563]

Malcolm Wicks: If, as a result of the current consultation on ‘The Future of Nuclear Power’, Government conclude that nuclear has a role to play in the UK, Government consider it to be technically possible and desirable to dispose of both new and legacy waste in the same geological disposal facilities, based on evidence from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) and overseas waste management programmes.

Advice from the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM) has been taken into account and is discussed in chapter 8 of ‘The Future of Nuclear Power’. In particular, the committee drew attention to the important ethical issues around whether to create new nuclear waste. The Government intend that these ethical issues should be considered through the consultation ‘The Future of Nuclear Power’ launched on 23 May 2007.

As part of the Government's Managing Radioactive Safely (MRWS) programme, a consultation outlining the implementation framework for geological disposal is due to be launched during summer 2007.

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what proposals he has to make nuclear plant operators meet the cost of (a) insurance, (b) support provided without cost recovery by the environmental and safety regulators and (c) research and development done on radioactive waste and nuclear decommissioning by Government departments, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management. [140566]

Malcolm Wicks: As far as existing nuclear operators are concerned, the Nuclear Installations Act (which implements the UK’s obligations under the Paris Convention on Third Party Liability in the Field of
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Nuclear Energy and the supplementary Brussels Convention) channels liability for incidents to operators, requiring them to maintain insurance or other security to meet potential claims. But these Conventions have recently been revised, and Government are now considering how best to bring the amendments into UK law. The proposals for doing this, on which we anticipate consulting in due course, will have implications for both existing operators and any new owners or operators of nuclear plant.

The environmental and safety regulators already recover the majority of costs in respect of nuclear regulation from operators. There are no proposals to change these existing cost recovery schemes. The HSE is proposing to introduce regulations to recover costs relating to design assessment. The Environment Agency will recover its costs for design assessment, if required, through an agreement with the requesting party under Section 37 of the Environment Act 1995.

The current consultation on “The Future of Nuclear Power” sets out that if Government conclude that nuclear has a role to play in the future UK energy mix, owners/operators of any new nuclear power stations would propose, develop, construct and operate any new plant and cover the full costs of decommissioning and their full share of waste management costs. There are no proposals to change the way in existing operators may fund research and development undertaken by Government departments, the NDA or CoRWM.

Mr. Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what responsibilities the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority has with regard to the setting of packing standards for radioactive waste; and if he will make a statement. [141121]

Malcolm Wicks: The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) is responsible for delivering safe, sustainable and publicly acceptable solutions to the challenge of nuclear clean-up and waste management.

Radioactive waste needs to be treated (or ‘conditioned’) and packaged to make it safer for handling, storage and eventual disposal. The nuclear site licence holders (waste packagers) carry out the physical packaging of the waste and are responsible for the safety of their operations. They are required to demonstrate to the independent regulators that the risks to the public and the environment from these activities are reduced to as low as reasonably practicable.

In support of their safety cases for packaging of radioactive waste, the waste packagers seek advice from the new Radioactive Waste Management Directorate (RWMD) of the NDA. This is done under a system known as the ‘Letter of Compliance’ process whereby the suitability of waste packages for eventual disposal is assessed.

It is the independent regulators who take decisions on the acceptability of waste conditioning and packaging safety cases submitted to them. Responsibility for securing the safety of the public and the environment rests with the independent regulators—the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the environment agencies (the Environment Agency, EA, in England and Wales and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, SEPA, in Scotland).


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Wind Power: Coastal Areas

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans he has for expenditure on offshore wind farms. [140356]

Malcolm Wicks: Government support renewables generation through the renewables obligation. We published a consultation on banding the renewables obligation on 23 May 2007. Banding will mean technologies such as offshore wind farms, which are at an earlier stage of development and face higher costs, will be given additional support allowing them to compete with well established technologies such as co-firing biomass in coal-fired power stations.

Mr. Iain Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what objections have been made to (a) his Department and (b) other planning authorities to the siting of off-shore wind farms off the north east of England coast. [140600]

Malcolm Wicks: The two offshore wind farms off the north east coast for which consents have been sought are the Blyth development, which was built in 2000 and comprises two turbines, and the proposed Teesside project that would comprise a maximum of 30 turbines and which is the subject of an undetermined consent application.

Blyth was consented under the Food and Environment Protection Act and the Coast Protection Act and the Department for Trade and Industry was not, therefore, involved in the decision-making process. Consent applications for the proposed Teesside development are being considered under the Electricity Act, the Food and Environment Protection Act and the Coast Protection Act. Objections to that proposal have been received by my Department, on behalf of the DTI and Defra, from a number of organisations and individuals. The objections will be considered by the Secretary of State in taking his decision on whether to grant consent for the project.

Mr. Iain Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps his Department is taking to increase the number of offshore windfarms. [140601]

Malcolm Wicks: The Government published the White Paper on Energy: “Meeting the Energy Challenge”: on 23 May 2007. The White Paper contains proposals to make it easier to connect to the electricity grid, band the Renewables Obligation (RO), and improve the planning consent process, all of which will help the development of offshore wind farm projects.

Banding the RO will mean technologies such as offshore wind, which are at an earlier stage of development and face higher costs, will be given additional support allowing them to compete with well established technologies such as co-firing biomass in coal-fired power stations.

It is also important to provide a long-term market for offshore renewables. The DTI and the Crown Estate have already run two competitions for the development
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rights for offshore wind farms, granting the rights for 29 offshore wind farms. The White Paper announced the Government’s intention to provide regular opportunities for companies to bid for further development rights. The DTI is working with the Crown Estate to explore options for further large-scale offshore wind farms and intends to publish proposals by the end of the year.

Mr. Iain Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the suitability of the North sea off the north east coast for the siting of offshore windfarms. [140602]

Malcolm Wicks: The Department has begun to explore options with the Crown Estate, for the siting of further large-scale offshore renewables development. Any consideration of further programmes of commercial-scale offshore wind farms will be based on a strategic environmental assessment (SEA). It may also be necessary to undertake Appropriate Assessments, depending on the locations identified for a further programme. These assessment processes would include consultation with the renewables sector and other parties with interests in or responsibilities for the marine environment.

In the absence of any regional assessments of the suitability of siting offshore wind farms off the north east coast, DTI officials and their partners in DEFRA have been considering the suitability of two demonstration wind farm projects—Blyth (installed) and Teesside (consent application under consideration)—in that area on a case by case basis and taking account of relevant issues.

Duchy of Lancaster

Charities: Fraud

Jo Swinson: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster pursuant to the statement of the Parliamentary Secretary in Westminster Hall on 28 February 2007, Official Report, column 324WH, what date has been set for a meeting of stakeholders to discuss bogus charity collection companies. [141499]

Edward Miliband: Since the debate, the issues have been discussed with Clothes Aid and other stakeholders. These include the Crown Prosecution Service, the Trading Standards Institute, the Advertising Standards Authority, the Office of Fair Trading, the Charity Commission, the Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services and the Association of Chief Police Officers, who have agreed to write to all chief constables to raise awareness of the issues relating to bogus charity collections and theft of charity donations.

Following these discussions with officials from the Office of the Third Sector, on June 18, we will be bringing together the key stakeholders and representatives of the sector to agree the next steps.

Charities: Gift Aid

Mr. Bone: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what discussions she has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the recent levels of gift aid relief for charities. [141476]


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Edward Miliband: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Guildford (Anne Milton) on 16 May 2007, Official Report, column 794W.

Departments: Property

Grant Shapps: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what properties the Department (a) owned and (b) rented in each of the last five years. [139363]

Hilary Armstrong: For information about freehold properties owned by the Department, I refer you to the National Asset Register published by HM Treasury. The Department currently occupies leased properties in London at 9 Whitehall, 1 Horseguards Road, 35 Great Smith Street, 67 Tufton Street, 10 Great George Street and Dover House. Outside London, the Cabinet Office occupies leased properties at Grosvenor House, Basingstoke, Birchwood Park, Warrington, and the National Computing Centre, Manchester. Since 2006 the Cabinet Office has also been responsible for two floors at 77 Paradise Circus, Queensway, Birmingham, which provide accommodation for two executive non-departmental public bodies. In the last five years, the Cabinet Office has previously occupied leased property in London at Stockley House, 11 Belgrave Road, 7 St. James's Square and 2 Little Smith Street.

Departments: Surveys

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if she will place in the Library copies of her Department's employee surveys for (a) 2004 and (b) 2005. [142027]

Hilary Armstrong: Staff surveys are valuable tools used by Departments to help them improve performance. The results of the 2005 Cabinet Office survey are available on the civil service website with comparison with 2004 results at:

Intelligence Services: Finance

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what the real terms percentage change in funding for the intelligence and security services was in each year since 1997. [133295]

The Prime Minister: I have been asked to reply.

The security and intelligence agencies are funded from the Single Intelligence Account (SIA). SIA Accounts are published annually; copies are available in the Libraries of the House.

Party Leaders: Elections

Mr. Heald: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (1) if she will place in the Library all guidance given to special advisers regarding the deputy leadership of the Labour Party elections within the last six months; [140839]


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(2) whether guidance has been issued to special advisers on activity relating to the Labour Party leadership and deputy leadership campaigns. [142470]

Hilary Armstrong: Guidance to Departments was issued by the Cabinet Secretary and placed in the Library for the reference of Members in December 2006 and May 2007. The Code of Conduct for Special Advisers is also relevant and is also available in the Library.

Project George

Mr. Heald: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster pursuant to the answer of 8 March 2007, Official Report, column 2198W, on Project George (1) whether she expects the works to incur expenditure beyond that required for routine maintenance and repair; [141724]

(2) how many full-time equivalent staff and consultants are working on Project George. [141725]

Hilary Armstrong: I refer the hon. Member to the answer that I gave him on 8 March 2007, Official Report, columns 2198-99W.

Voluntary Work

Mr. Francois: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what progress her Department has made with establishing a British volunteering corps further to the Chancellor's announcement on 31 January 2005. [140006]

Edward Miliband: The independent youth-led charity v was launched on 8 May 2006 with the mission of delivering a step change in the quality, quantity and diversity of youth volunteering opportunities to engage and encourage 1 million more young people to volunteer within five years.

To date, v has created nearly 120,000 volunteering opportunities for young people through grant funded and match funded projects.


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