HC Deb 23 February 1984 vol 54 c959
3. Mr. Farr

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what are his plans for the provision of nuclear energy in the Province for the foreseeable future.

The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office (Mr. Adam Butler)

None, Sir.

Mr. Farr

Will my hon. Friend consider the matter again? As many countries in Europe which are not that much bigger than Northern Ireland produce a sizeable proportion of their energy supply by nuclear means, and as by the turn of the century countries such as Finland, Norway, and other Scandinavian countries will have a nuclear capacity of over 20 per cent., is not the Government's policy for the Province wrong?

Mr. Butler

My hon. Friend raised the matter in Committee, and I have reconsidered it because of the respect that I bear him. The total maximum load for Northern Ireland in 1982–83 was only about 1200 MW, and as nuclear power plants come in sizes from 500 MW upwards it is clearly out of the question at the moment to consider such a power station there.

Mr. McCusker

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that a cheaper way to allow Northern Ireland to benefit from nuclear-generated electricity would be to construct a North channel electricity inter-connector?

Mr. Butler

That is always an option, but an even cheaper way would be to exploit the lignite reserves which we have now established exist.

Mr. Concannon

Will the hon. Gentleman say a few words about the Kilroot power station and his intentions? Are we any further towards making that coal-fired?

Mr. Butler

I have a number of options before me as a result of consultants' investigations, and I have the Northern Ireland Electricity Services report as well. There are clear signs that conversion to solid fuel—probably coal—would be advantageous. I cannot say any more than that at present.