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11 Nov 2009 : Column 514W—continued

Climate Change

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what assessment he has made of the potential of use of biochar to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and if he will make a statement. [298407]

Joan Ruddock [holding answer 9 November 2009]: The Royal Society published a report on Geo-engineering in September 2009 which concluded that techniques
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such as biochar may be useful contributors to reducing greenhouse gases on a small scale, although the circumstances under which they are economically viable and socially and ecologically sustainable remain to be determined.

A review was commissioned recently by DEFRA and DECC to assess the potential benefits, costs and issues surrounding the addition of biochar to soil. The review will help us understand the potential use of biochar to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We expect that the review will be completed by the end of December 2009.

Climate Change: International Co-operation

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change for which aspects of the Government's contribution to commitments agreed at the International Monetary Fund-World Bank annual meetings in Istanbul in 2009 his Department will be responsible. [297108]

Joan Ruddock [holding answer 2 November 2009]: There were no specific commitments agreed for which the Department will be responsible. The IMF-World Bank communiqué reiterated support for the World Bank Group's efforts to tackle long-term development challenges, including climate change, in line with its comparative advantage. We welcome the engagement of all international financial institutions in addressing the challenge and opportunity of low carbon climate resilient growth, and encourage them to make their existing investments climate-smart.

Mr. Tom Clarke: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what recent discussions he has made on ensuring that a forthcoming climate change agreement is consistent with the Government's commitment to international development. [297983]

Joan Ruddock: A comprehensive, fair and equitable deal at Copenhagen that tackles climate change effectively has the potential to be the most important development agreement of the decade. An agreement that puts the needs of developing countries and poor people at its heart is essential for sustainable growth and poverty reduction. These issues are central to all our international discussions on the shape of a Copenhagen deal.

Departmental Hotels

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change how much his Department spent on hotel bills in 2008-09. [299150]

Joan Ruddock: For the period in question our financial records show claims for a total of approximately £271,000 on UK and overseas hotel accommodation.

Energy: Government Departments

Dr. Whitehead: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change whether he plans to take steps to encourage voltage optimisation on the Government estate. [295278]

Joan Ruddock: Steps are already being taken to encourage uptake of voltage reduction technologies (including voltage optimisation) across the Government estate. Budget 2009 announced over £50 million in interest-free
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loans for public sector organisations including central Government, to invest in effective energy efficiency technologies including voltage reduction technologies. Some of this funding has already been allocated to voltage reduction technologies on the Government estate.

In addition, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is working through the Pan Government Energy Project to promote collaborative procurement opportunities and funding streams for all public sector organisations that will contribute to energy demand reduction, including the development of a framework contract voltage reduction technologies.

Energy: Housing

John Hemming: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what his most recent estimate is of the average capital cost of supplying a domestic property with energy generated by (a) wind power and (b) solar power. [297155]

Joan Ruddock: The Government's Low Carbon Buildings Programme (LCBP), with a £131 million budget, currently supports householders to install microgeneration technologies including micro wind and solar PV. The average installed costs of supplying a domestic property with energy generated by micro wind and solar PV through the LCBP are as follows:

Solar power


Fuel Poverty: Bexley

Mr. Evennett: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what estimate he has made of the number of households in (a) Bexleyheath and Crayford and (b) the London Borough of Bexley in fuel poverty. [298114]

Mr. Kidney: The most recently available sub-regional split of fuel poverty relates to 2006, and shows that there were around 3,200 fuel-poor households in the Bexleyheath and Crayford constituency and around 8,100 fuel-poor households in Bexley local authority.

Green Communities Challenge

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what steps he plans to take to implement a green communities challenge; when it will be introduced; and how it will operate. [299069]

Joan Ruddock: The Low Carbon Communities Challenge is a two-year programme to provide financial and advisory support to 20 "test-bed" communities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland that are seeking to cut carbon emissions. It does not cover communities in Scotland. The challenge was launched on 28 September this year.

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The 20 successful communities will each receive support to pay for real measures selected by the local residents themselves. These could range from a local biomass plant to retrofitting homes to electric car charge points. In return for technical and financial assistance, people living and working in the area will work alongside government and contribute to finding low carbon solutions from which the whole country will benefit.

The following steps will occur: Applications for the Challenge will be received by 27 November for phase 1 applicants (applying for funding in 2009-10), and 30 December for phase 2 applicants (applying for funding in 2010-11). The final decision on the selection of communities will be made in January 2010. Phase 1 applicants will be notified at this point on the allocation of funding. Phase 2 applicants will be allocated funding during the financial year as they work up their spending plans.

Industrial Diseases: Compensation

Caroline Flint: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change how many former mine workers in (a) Don Valley, (b) Doncaster and (c) South Yorkshire have received payments under the coal miners compensation scheme; and how much has been paid out to former miners in each of those areas. [298635]

Mr. Kidney: The number of former miners in Don Valley, Doncaster and South Yorkshire who have received payments under Coal Health Compensation schemes for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and vibration white finger (VWF) and the amount paid in each of those areas as at 1 November 2009 is shown in the following table:

Number of claims Damages paid (£)
Area COPD VWF Other COPD VWF Other

Don Valley














South Yorkshire







Total c laims and d amages p aid (less Compensation Recovery Unit) to m iners in the Don Valley, Doncaster and South Yorkshire c onstituencies as defined as follows :

Nuclear Power Stations

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what proportion of total national energy output his Department expects new nuclear plants to generate in the next 20 years. [298695]

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Mr. Kidney: As set out in the Nuclear White Paper, the Government are taking active steps to establish and cement the right policy framework and create the right conditions in the UK for investment in new nuclear power stations. The Office for Nuclear Development is acting to enable investment in the UK from the earliest possible date.

The Government have set neither a target nor a cap on the amount of nuclear power that could come forward. Instead, the approach has been to remove the barriers to investment in new nuclear power, and allow energy companies to come forward with projects if they consider it in their interests to do so. The action taken by Government so far has resulted in real interest in new nuclear in the UK, with energy companies announcing plans to build up to 16 GW of new nuclear capacity.

The programme of facilitative actions set out in the White Paper should, subject to regulatory approvals, enable companies to begin operation of new nuclear power stations around 2017 or 2018.

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change how much of the total national energy output nuclear power stations contributed in the latest period for which figures are available. [298696]

Mr. Kidney: In the latest full year for which data are available (2008) nuclear power stations provided 13 per cent. of total UK electricity generation. We have also published data up to quarter 2 2009. Quarterly data can be found in the following table. Nuclear generation was slightly lower than usual in 2008 due to maintenance.

Proportion of UK electricity generated by nuclear power stations
Period Electricity generated by nuclear ( percentage )

Total 2008


Quarter 1 2008


Quarter 2 2008


Quarter 3 2008


Quarter 4 2008


Quarter 1 2009


Quarter 2 2009


Renewable Energy: Developing Countries

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what steps his Department is taking to ensure effective technology transfer to enable (a) Bangladesh, (b) Ethiopia, (c) India, (d) Kenya and (e) Nepal to harness renewable energy and combat climate change. [297915]

Joan Ruddock [holding answer 5 November 2009]: The Government are pushing for an ambitious, effective and fair agreement at the 15(th) Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, in Copenhagen, that will drive the development of climate technologies and their deployment in developing countries, including Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, Kenya and Nepal. At the recent Environment Council, the UK and our European partners highlighted our desire for a

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Warm Front Scheme

Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (1) what recent discussions he has had with ministerial colleagues on the implementation of the Warm Front scheme in the North West; [297947]

(2) what recent discussions he has had with Ministerial colleagues on the length of time it takes for Warm Front grant applications to be processed. [297949]

Mr. Kidney: I have regular discussions with ministerial colleagues, officials and a range of stakeholders about action to tackle fuel poverty, including discussions about the implementation and performance of the Warm Front scheme across England.

On 29 October, I chaired an inter-ministerial group on fuel poverty during which the Warm Front Scheme and its delivery was discussed.

Communities and Local Government

Audit Commission: Homes and Communities Agency

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what services the Audit Commission has provided for the (a) Homes and Communities Agency and (b) Tenant Services Authority in the last 12 months; and how much was paid to the Audit Commission in respect of each service. [299205]

John Healey: This is an operational matter for the Audit Commission, and I have asked the chief executive of the Audit Commission to write to the hon. Member direct.

Letter from Steve Bundred, dated 11 November 2009:

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