HC Deb 04 February 1974 vol 868 cc865-6
13. Mr. Adley

asked the Minister for Energy if he will now conduct a reappraisal of the Severn Barrage scheme, in view of the reduced differential in the cost of power generated thereby in relation to the cost of power generated by conventional fuel caused by the increased price of oil.

Mr. Emery

I have little to add to my statement made in the Adjournment debate on 9th January. A tidal power station must be compared with the cheapest alternative source of electricity, which, in the future, is most likely to be nuclear. A recent review within my Department indicated that a barrage in the Severn would not be economically viable, but I stated that we would keep this matter under active review.

Mr. Adley

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Does he not agree that unless and until a full hydrological survey of this project is undertaken nobody will be able to do other than put forward opinions as to its viability or otherwise? In view of his latest letter to me, will he now get together with the CEGB and Bristol University to see whether he is prepared to consider setting up just such a hydrological study?

Mr. Emery

As I implied in my letter, I am only too willing to ask the CEGB to take all the active advice it can on this matter and then advise Her Majesty's Government.

Mr. Rose

Will the Minister also consider seriously the possibilities in relation to the Morecambe barrage and the Solway Firth? Will he consider the other tidal estuaries whose viabilities have now been affected by the sharp rise in oil prices? Will he look also at the coal mining industry in exactly the same way, because the economics are equally applicable and make complete nonsense of the Government's policy in relation to wages in the mining industry in the post-oil-crisis era?

Mr. Emery

I refer the hon. Gentleman to my answer to an Adjournment debate. As for the hon. Member's suggestion about wages, he must bear in mind the overall desire by both sides of the House to ensure that inflation is overcome.

Mr. Eadie

The hon. Gentleman will agree that the Adjournment debate was initiated by my hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell). As the hon. Gentleman has said that the Government are making a reappraisal of indigenous energy resources because of the oil price and energy crisis, will he assure the House that in that reappraisal the Government are studying all aspects of indigenous energy resources? I emphasise the production of oil from coal and shale, which, as the hon. Gentleman knows, is to be found in the constituencies of West Lothian and Midlothian.

Mr. Emery

I am only too willing to repeat that the new Department is considering all forms of energy and reconsidering all previous investigations into methods of obtaining energy.