HC Deb 07 November 1983 vol 48 cc3-4
2. Mr. Tom Clarke

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if his Department will study the potential for the production of methane gas from disused pits.

The Under-Secretary of State for Energy (Mr. Giles Shaw)

I understand that this potential is evaluated by the National Coal Board whenever it is known that a colliery is to cease production.

Mr. Clarke

Is the Minister aware that great resources of methane gas exist in pits that have already been closed or about to be closed? Is he aware that that includes the Cordowan colliery in my constituency, which was supplying a local distillery and was, in time, to supply a local school? What is likely to happen to those natural resources?

Mr. Shaw

The hon. Gentleman will understand that such arrangements must be made by the Coal Board and local suppliers under contract for methane gas. The hon. Gentleman will also recognise that when pits are closed, although there may be opportunities for the sale of methane, substantial costs are involved. The cost of keeping Cordowan open far outweigh the potential revenue from the sale of methane gas.

Mr. Adley

Is my hon. Friend aware of the methane gas supply plant which was a useful by-product of the international garden festival project in Liverpool? Is that not an interesting example of how the Government helped to produce that product? In view of the environmental as well as energy advantages for other cities with municipal rubbish tips, will my hon. Friend consult his colleagues in the Department of the Environment to see whether that example can be followed elsewhere?

Mr. Shaw

I welcome my hon. Friend's comment on the importance of methane as a fuel. Methane has been used in a number of energy-saving experiments. An example is the London Brick Company of Peterborough, which uses the Bedfordshire refuse tips for fuelling methane in its own boilers.