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Electricity Imports

Miss Kirkbride: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much electricity was imported from France into the United Kingdom in each of the last five years. [32982]

Mr. Wilson: Imports of electricity from France to the United Kingdom, for the years 1997 to 2001 are as follows:



The figure for 2001 is provisional.

Departmental Expenditure

Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will list her Department's total expenditure by month in each financial year since 1997–98. [32800]

Ms Hewitt: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 4 February 2002, Official Report, column 692W.

Enron Europe

Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what submissions have been received by the Government from Enron Europe since May 1997 that have been made publicly available. [31934]

Mr. Wilson: In common with other participants in the energy markets, Enron has made submissions to the Government on various issues, including public consultations. Details of all the submissions made could be collected only at disproportionate cost. However, it is DTI practice to place a summary of responses to public

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consultations in the Libraries of the House and, except where companies made submissions in confidence, copies of submissions are available on request.

Energy Reserves

Mr. Alan Reid: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how long UK (a) coal, (b) oil and (c) gas reserves are expected to last. [35608]

Mr. Wilson: In the Coal Authority's evidence to the House of Lords Select Committee on the European Union on 12 November 2001, coal reserves at existing UK mines were assessed in 2001 at around 220 million tonnes, equivalent to about seven years of UK coal production at 2000 production rates. The evidence also said that there was a further known potential of 380 million tonnes and, in addition, currently unaccessed deep mine and opencast resources potentially provide many years of future production at present levels.

Detailed estimates of oil and gas reserves on the UK continental shelf are given in the Brown Book (Development of UK Oil and Gas Resources 2001). The extent to which these reserves might be produced depends on a number of factors, including prices and costs relative to other oil producing areas. It is therefore difficult to make accurate predictions, but if all the discovered reserves given in the Brown Book were to be developed they represent some 11 years of oil production and 14 years of gas production at rates seen in 2000. If in addition, estimates of as yet undiscovered reserves are also considered, UK oil reserves represent between 13 and 29 years of production and UK gas reserves represent between 17 and 29 years of production, although the upper estimates are unlikely. In practice, production levels will fall and reserves will last longer. Indeed, a Pilot target is to produce 3 Mboed (million barrels of oil equivalent per day) in 2010 against about 4.5 Mboed in 2000.

Green Technologies

John Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps she is taking to promote the take-up of green technologies. [33737]

Mr. Wilson: The Government's aim is for the UK to become a leading player in the new markets for green energy and products, waste minimisation, recycling and re-use. Support for the take-up of green technologies is provided through a wide range of activities. The main ones to which DTI contributes directly are:

The Sustainable Technologies Initiative offers grants for the development of new, more sustainable technologies. The total funding available from Government exceeds £18 million, of which £10 million is contributed by DTI, and £8 million is contributed through the science budget by research councils.

The Envirowise programme is jointly funded by DTI and DEFRA and is helping UK companies increase their competitiveness through the introduction of resource efficiency techniques and cost-effective cleaner technology. Support for the current phase is some £31 million by the two Departments.

DTI has committed £12.5 million over three years to the Waste and Resources Action Programme.

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Promoting more sustainable technologies and practices in construction is a key objective of my Department's £15 million construction research and innovation programme.

The Government are providing substantial support to industry for the development of renewable forms of energy.

Introducing the new Renewables Obligation, exempting renewables from the Climate Change Levy and protecting existing Non Fossil Fuel Obligation (NFFO) contracts will together create a long-term market incentive for renewables worth over £1 billion per year by 2010.

We are underpinning the obligation with direct Government funding for renewables worth over £260 million between 2001 and 2004. We are setting up extensive capital grants programmes, in particular for offshore wind and energy crops projects, initiating a major photovoltaics demonstration programme, and boosting research and development.

We recently introduced an order to allow locational flexibility for NFFO 3, 4 and 5 projects that have not yet been commissioned. This will allow more appropriate locations to be found in order to overcome problems in securing planning permission.

We have initiated studies of each UK region's capacity to generate electricity from renewable sources. Once all these assessments are completed, it is expected that specific regional targets for renewable energy will be adopted across the UK.

The Government are also exploring the scope for upgrading the electricity distribution system to enable the UK's huge renewable energy resources to be exploited to the full. For example, we have commissioned an initial study of the feasibility of an underwater cable to connect parts of the western seaboard of the UK directly to the National Grid.

The Department is also working with other Government Departments on activities such as the Carbon Trust and the Green Technology Challenge.

Retention Systems

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what assessment she has made of the impact of the system of retention on smaller construction companies; and if she plans to change the system of retention; [30569]

Mr. Wilson [holding answer 30 January 2002]: The Government do not collect data on the use of retentions by construction clients or suppliers. Retentions are a common contractual agreement between the parties resulting from decades of adversarial relationships between the players in the industry. We are taking a range of steps to address the root causes of the distrust. Through the Rethinking Construction initiative, run in partnership by Government and the construction industry, we have developed and disseminated policies that promote a culture change in the

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industry and across clients. These are based on partnering and long-term relationships between the parties where they co-operate to maximise efficiency and benefits, and to drive waste out of the project.

Combined Heat and Power

Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps her Department intends to take to ensure CHP is excluded from the obligation base for the Government's renewable energy obligation. [35386]

Mr. Wilson: Responses to the Statutory Consultation on the Renewables Obligation included the suggestion that excluding electricity from good quality combined heat and power (CHP) installations from the total electricity sales figures on which the Renewables Obligation was based might be an effective means of supporting CHP.

In the event, this suggestion was not pursued, on the basis of clear legal advice that it would be going beyond the powers conferred by Parliament (ultra vires) to use an Obligation intended to promote renewable energy to promote other forms of energy generation.

DEFRA is developing, in close collaboration with other Departments, a draft CHP Strategy which will set out the measures needed to achieve the CHP target of at least 10,000 megawatts of good quality CHP by 2010. This will be issued for consultation shortly.


Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions she has had with British Nuclear Fuels in respect of improving the safety and security of buildings B302 and B302.1 at Sellafield. [32290]

Mr. Wilson: None. I have received advice from officials on the safety and security of civil nuclear installations, including those at Sellafield. Officials have had discussions with BNFL. Safety and security precautions at nuclear sites are kept under regular review.

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, pursuant to her answer to the hon. Member for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton, of 1 February 2002, Official Report, column 618W, on BNFL, if she will list (a) those bodies which provided the independent advice on BNFL liabilities and (b) the contracts entered into with those advising the Department. [34686]

Mr. Wilson: The Department received advice on BNFL's liabilities from Andersen, Arthur D Little, Credit Suisse First Boston, Deloitte and Touche, HSBC, Slaughter and May and Lane Clark and Peacock.

With the exception of the contract entered into with Arthur D Little, which asked the firm specifically to review the methods used by BNFL when quantifying its liabilities, the contracts entered into with the remaining firms sought advice on a number of issues, including liabilities.

These contracts were awarded following best departmental practice which involved obtaining competitive tenders and, where applicable, following EU procurement rules.

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