§ 2. Mr. Dalyell
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the total estimated expense of the planning inquiries held at Bo'ness in relation to the proposed Carriden power station site and in East Lothian in relation to the proposed Towers site; and whether he is satisfied with the current system of determining 1333 sites for potential power stations, and in related developments.
§ The Minister of State, Scottish Office (Mr. Bruce Millan)
Details of the costs incurred by all the parties concerned in the inquiries into the proposed power stations at Carriden and Torness are not available to me.
I am satisfied that the procedure for considering sites for potential power stations and related developments meets the requirements of statute and balances the interests of the parties. I do not however rule out the possibility of further improvement.
§ Mr. Dalyell
When we meet the requirements of statutes, are we sure that this kind of decision is best made by opposing batteries of lawyers?
§ Mr. Millan
Unless we have an acceptable substitute for the present planning procedures, the public inquiry is an essential part of that process. However, as I have made clear before, the actual decision about the power station itself—and authority for that—is taken as a separate decision by the Secretary of State, so that the wider matters of energy policy and the rest can be considered then.
§ Mr. Ancram
On the second part of that question, will the Secretary of State confirm that in coming to a decision on the present application for the Torness site his right hon. Friend will have regard not just to the physical suitability of the site but also to the damage and dangers which the power station could cause to the environment, to housing and to employment in the area?
§ Mr. Millan
All these matters are absolutely intrinsic to planning decisions of this kind. In this case, as in others, my right hon. Friend will keep these matters in mind.