HC Deb 07 November 1983 vol 48 cc13-4
16. Mr. Dubs

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will meet the chairman of the Central Electricity Generating Board to discuss the disposal of power stations that are no longer needed.

Mr. Giles Shaw

My right hon. friend is always ready to meet the chairman of the CEGB, but questions concerning the disposal of power stations are a matter for the board.

Mr. Dubs

Will the Minister ask his right hon. Friend, when he meets the chairman of the CEGB, to consider again the proposals for the disposal of Battersea power station, about which there is much local concern, and to ask the chairman to ensure that the local community is adequately consulted about any plans for the future of that building?

Mr. Shaw

I note the hon. Gentleman's point and I shall put it to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State.

Mr. Rost

Is my hon. Friend aware that, as a result of the Energy Act, the CEGB and some area boards, especially in the midlands, are now actively pursuing partnerships with industry to convert some existing power stations to combined heat and power? Will the Government take note of that and, if necessary, support it?

Mr. Shaw

The Government would welcome any scheme that found a suitable use for redundant power stations. Combined heat and power schemes were among the suggestions made in the competition on the future of Battersea power station.

Mr. Hardy

Does the Minister accept that progress on the Atkins report, on which the hon. Member for Erewash (Mr. Rost) touched, has been grossly inadequate? Does he agree that public expenditure of that kind is urgently needed and that many of the schemes identified in the report should have gone ahead already?

Mr. Shaw

I note the hon. Gentleman's dissatisfaction. He will appreciate, however, that the CEGB has had to carry out a major reappraisal of assets and their use in relation to the fall in energy demand.

Mr. Fallon

Does my hon. Friend think that British industry as a whole would be more, or less, prosperous if the CEGB were allowed to import as much low-cost coal as it wished?

Mr. Shaw

The CEGB depends to a very great extent on the use of coal. That use, of course, depends on the price that the board is prepared to pay. My hon. Friend will know, however, that the CEGB and the National Coal Board have recently agreed on provision for the next four years.

Mr. Allan Roberts

When will the Minister make an announcement about the Marshall report on combined heat and power, using disused power stations or otherwise? Does he intend to include Merseyside as one of the lead areas? Does he agree that if a fraction of the money that is being spent on nuclear energy, including the pressurised water reactor, were spent on projects such as combined heat and power the nation's fuel needs would be far better served?

Mr. Shaw

The hon. Gentleman's comments are widely respected in the House. There should certainly be further development on this front. The Government are still considering the reports and we hope to make an announcement in due course.

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