HC Deb 19 May 1980 vol 985 cc6-7
5. Mr. Rost

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will outline the timetable for proceeding with the public inquiry on the pressurised water reactor.

Mr. Norman Lamont

My right hon. Friend will announce the date of the inquiry in due course. The CEGB has not yet applied for consent. Timing will depend on a number of factors, including completion of necessary work on safety clearance.

Mr. Rost

How will the Government monitor the cost of the PWR power station and the time scale for construction so that we can get some idea of comparative performance with the AGR stations, which are about to be ordered as well?

Mr. Lamont

On both aspects the industry keeps us informed of the details of projects both as regards cost and time, and we shall be acutely interested to see how it is developing on the PWR as well. We are engaged in discussions about the different stages that must be gone through on both design and safety work before construction can start. We are working out the precise timetable for that.

Mr. Waldegrave

Does my hon. Friend agree that in any discussion about a PWR, or any other kind of reactor programme, forecasts of electricity demand are crucial to a sensible assessment of the situation? Does he also agree that the industry's predictions about electricity demand seem to be shifting and that it might be in order for the Government to publish a White Paper on the subject in the fairly near future?

Mr. Lamont

My hon. Friend is right about electricity demand being crucial. He knows that that was one of the factors that led to the review of the two AGRs. However, after considering it, we decided that it was right to confirm the investment approval that was given to the two AGRs. We are in the process of reexamining the forecasts. My hon. Friend will be aware that the energy projections are revised each year in the light of economic conditions.

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