Select Committee on Trade and Industry Annxes to the Report

Follow-up Questions


It would be helpful to have a note updating the position on opencast coal, as referred to at para 11.30 and 12.69 of Cm 4071, and taking into account the reviews conducted by the devolved administration

  The Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions issued in March 1999, after consultation, a revised Minerals Planning Guidance Note 3 (MPG3) for England.

  Also in March 1999, the Scottish Executive issued National Planning Policy Guidance Note 16 (NPPG16), Opencast Coal and Related Minerals for Scotland. This replaced NPPG 4 (Land for Mineral Working) as the relevant guidance for opencast coal and related minerals such as clays for brick making.

  Following the publication in December 1999 of the Government-sponsored Newcastle University Research Report, "Do particulates from opencast coal impair children's respiratory health?", and the endorsement of the report's recommendations by the Committee on Medical Effects of Air Pollutants (COMEAP), DETR issued interim guidance to mineral planning authorities and the coal industry, stating that the Department intend to incorporate detailed guidance on this matter in the forthcoming revision of Minerals Planning Guidance Note 11 (MPG11). The Scottish Executive also carried out a consultation exercise in July 2000, with a view to amending both NPPG4 and NPPG16 to take account of the assessment framework recommended by the Newcastle research. It is anticipated that both the revised MPG11 and the amended Scottish guidance will be issued within the first quarter of 2001.

  The National Assembly for Wales is aiming to publish a Minerals Planning Guidance Note for Wales, covering all minerals, by the end of 2000. Also by the end of 2000, they plan to issue for consultation a draft Technical Advice Note (TAN) covering coal, with a view to publication of the final TAN for coal later in 2001.


A factual note on the outcome of the policy expressed at para 9.45 of Cm 4071 and referred to at para 11.35, that major coal-fired generators should have and use one FGD-equipped plant, would be of assistance

  On 17 December 1999 the Environment Agency issued a Decision Document setting out the principles under which it would issue authorisations for power station sulphur emissions until 2005. The authorisations comprise limits on the overall emissions of companies with coal or oil plant ("B limits") and limits on the emissions of individual stations ("A limits"). The sum of the A limits for an individual company's stations is greater than that company's B limit. There is a flexibility provision for generators which have FGD-abated plant in their fleet, and which run that plant at higher load factors than its unabated plant—in a ratio of 2:1, provided local emissions limits (A limits) are met and coal of sufficient quality (low sulphur content) is used. The provision, which is also available to generators in the process of fitting FGD abatement, permits qualifying generators to exceed their overall B limit in preset proportions, in order to win market share. TXU have now started work on fitting FGD to the whole of their 2 GW station at West Burton, and it is anticipated this work will be complete by autumn 2003. Edison Mission Energy and British Energy are considering whether to retrofit FGD to their stations at Fiddlers Ferry, Ferrybridge C and Eggborough and are in discussion with the EA about their plans. It is not expected that the FGD will be fitted to all units at these stations.


The outcome of the Energy Advisory Panel studies referred to at para 12.14 would be helpful

  The Energy Advisory Panel's report on its work in the year 1998-99, published in the 1999 Energy Report, included a paper on The Role of "Diversity" in Security of supply in Electricity. This embraced a wider range of issues than the catastrophic failure of infrastructure, which had been the Committee's main concern; and the Panel concluded that more work needed to be done on a full audit of the system security of the electricity and gas systems in terms of their ability to respond rapidly to unexpected and potentially serious events (albeit events of low probability). The Panel's work in 1999-2000 will be reported in the Energy Report 2000 (to be published in November): the last year has seen a shift of emphasis in the Panel's modus operandi towards detailed analysis of, and discussion with officials of, particular proposals or policy developments, rather than submitting formal policy papers to Ministers. Part of this work has included further work and discussion on system security: a Panel subgroup has carried out a preliminary analysis of the main arrangements for system security, and will be advising the DTI on taking this work forward in consultation with Ofgem. It will also take into account the work carried out by the Steering Group established by the Government following the recommendations of the consultants Merz and McLellan on system security which were summarised in the 1998 White Paper Conclusions of the Review of Energy Sources for Power Generation (Cm 4071).


It would be helpful to have an update on development of policy on decommissioning of offshore installations, as referred to at para 12.66

  Since responding to the Trade and Industry Committee's fourth and fifth Reports, the Government has published Guidance Notes for Industry on the Decommissioning of Offshore Installations and Pipelines under the Petroleum Act 1998. The Guidance Notes, the first to be issued by an OSPAR Contracting Party, confirm the Government's approach to decommissioning and to managing the decommissioning of offshore installations in an environmentally responsible manner. The Guidance Notes, which are consistent with the UK's international obligations, reflect the terms of OSPAR Decision 98/3 adopted by OSPAR Ministers in July 1998. They provide a clear and comprehensive guide to the decommissioning process and will assist those engaged in developing and submitting decommissioning proposals for the Government's approval. First issued as a Consultative Document in 1999, the Guidance Notes were published in final form on 21 August 2000.

  At the heart of the Guidance Notes is the presumption that the great majority of oil and gas installations will be completely removed for re-use, recycling or final disposal on land. In line with Decision 98/3, the Guidance Notes recognise that the re-use of an installation is first in the order of preferred decommissioning options. The Government is keen to encourage the re-use of facilities wherever this is practicable and will expect Operators to demonstrate that they have investigated re-use opportunities fully at the decommissioning stage. Recent changes in the tax allowances applicable to decommissioning costs will also make re-use more attractive.

  Some offshore installations located on the UKCS have significant volumes of drill cuttings deposited on the seabed beneath them. The particular difficulties associated with drill cuttings at the decommissioning stage have been recognised for some time. In response to this concern the UK Offshore Operators Association (UKOOA) is currently co-ordinating a Joint Industry Project, of which the DTI is a member, involving an in-depth study of the issues involved and how best to deal with them. The results will be reported to OSPAR and taken into account in considering decommissioning proposals.


It would be helpful to have a note on the implementation of the proposal in para 12.88 on publication of the details of UK civil nuclear liabilities

  The Energy Report 2000, which was published on 15 November, contained information about UK civil nuclear liabilities in the public and private sectors.

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