HC Deb 14 March 1955 vol 538 cc947-8
41. Mr. Nabarro

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what progress he can report as a result of the underground gasification work at Bayton, Worcestershire, now in its fourth year; in what way the earlier knowledge acquired at Newman Spinney, Chesterfield, has been added to by the work at Bayton; what the Bayton work has cost to date; how long it is proposed to continue it; when experimentation will pass to production; and whether he will now make a statement on underground coal gasification prospects generally.

Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd

The trials at Bayton and at Newman Spinney have been regarded as one experiment and the different techniques available have been tried out at both sites. About 3,000 tons of coal have been gasified since 1949, rather less than half of which was at Bayton. Total expenditure to the end of the current financial year will be about £660,000,rather more than one-third of which will have been spent at Bayton. Demonstrations of the continuous production of usable gas are planned to start later this year on both sites using different techniques and will last several months. A full report on the work will be published about the same time.

Mr. Nabarro

In view of the present coal position, can my right hon. Friend say whether there are any substantial prospects of underground gasification work on a full production scale during the course of the next year or two, as opposed to this very limited work of experimentation?

Mr. Lloyd

The short answer is that it depends upon the result of the experiments later this year.

Mr. J. R. H. Hutchison

Is any experimentation taking place in Scotland?

Mr. Lloyd

No, Sir, not in this case.

Mr. Woodburn

Is not experiment going on in Scotland in regard to pumping coal out of the pits?

Mr. Lloyd

Yes, but that is an entirely different matter.