Select Committee on Environmental Audit Minutes of Evidence


Letter from the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry to the Chairman of the Committee

  I undertook to provide the Committee with further information when I gave evidence on 31 October.


  I have pleasure in enclosing a note setting out the current position on resource productivity, including the work DTI and others have been doing in the UK to develop more robust indicators and set long-term goals. The forthcoming PIU Report on Resource Productivity will be important in setting the future agenda for this work. It will also be helpful for the UK's contribution to further work on the EU Sustainable Develolpment Strategy agreed at the Gothenburg Council.

  The note also covers our plans to hold a seminar to review progress and discuss the further development of DTI's Sustainable Development Strategy. It is important that we get the views of all our key stakeholders and I am therefore pleased that Emma Downing, the adviser to your Committee, will be attending.


  I undertook to let you have information on the current position regarding the consultation on offshore wind generation. The department has consulted on a "one-stop shop" offshore developers who need to obtain a number of clearances, not just from DTI. Following the consultation DTI, in conjunction with DEFRA and DTLR, is preparing guidance notes for developers and others who are unfamiliar with the consents regime. These guidance notes have now been published in draft.

  I also undertook to look into the impact of the Marine Conservation Bill and whether guidelines are being produced on the visual impact on the marinescape which would help inform decisions about offshore wind development. The former is a Private Members Bill proposed by John Randall. It does not have any provisions concerning the visual impacts on the marinescape.

  I am not aware of any specific Government guidelines being developed relevant to protecting the visual impact of the marinescape. However, offshore generating stations require my consent under Section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989 and in all cases I will need to satisfy myself that I have sufficient information on the environmental consequences of a proposed development, including visual impact, before taking my decision. The draft guidance referred to above makes clear that impact in seascape and coastal character should be covered in environmental statements submitted with consent applications.

  It would have been helpful to have had prior notice that the Committee wished to raise DTI's responsibilities in the planning sector, as these cover a number of detailed issues. To assist the Committee in its deliberations, I enclose a note setting out DTI's planning responsibilities and how, in exercising these responsibilities, the department takes account of environmental considerations.


  The Committee asked for details of the environmental assessments that formed part of the Government's recent decision that the manufacture of mixed oxide (MOX) fuel is justified in accordance with the requirements of European Community law.

  I refer the Committee to the Environment Agency's proposed decision on the justification for the operation of SMP which was published in October 1998. This document sets out in clear terms the negligible effect that operation of the SMP will have on radiological discharges from Sellafield. For example, it states that the estimated annual radiological dose that even the most exposed individual would receive from the total radioactivity discharged annually from SMP in both gaseous and liquid form would amount to less than one millionth of the annual dose that the average person receives from background radiation occurring naturally in the environment.

  The document is attached as Annex 2[3] to the decision document published on 3 October by the Secretary of State for Health and the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. It is publicly available on DEFRA's website at:


  I am pleased to enclose a copy of the ECGD's Statement of Business Principles. [4]The Committee also asked for details of the two consultants commissioned by the ECGD to undertake independent reviews of the two reports associated with the Ilisu Dam. [5]

  The Environment Impact Assessment Report (EIAR) was assessed by the Environmental Resources Management Group (ERM). The EIAR has been released and is available to the public. The Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) was assessed by Dr Behrooz Morvandi of Bradford University. The RAP is the property of the Turkish authorities and cannot be made publicly available without their consent. I am pleased to enclose the details requested by the Committee on the consultants and their remits.

9 November 2001

2   Annex A-not included in this memoranda. Back

3   Annex B-not included in this memoranda. Back

4   Annex Ca-not included in this memoranda. Back

5   Annex C-not included in this memoranda. Back

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