HC Deb 12 March 1984 vol 56 cc13-4
14. Mr. Skeet

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will give his projections of the level of nuclear power in the United Kingdom up to the year 2000.

Mr. Peter Walker

My Department submitted a set of energy projections, including future nuclear capacity, in its evidence to the Sizewell B inquiry. A copy of this evidence was placed in the Library of the House of Commons on 7 October 1982.

Mr. Skeet

I am certain that my right hon. Friend will agree that that answer is somewhat obscure. Does he agree that the French performance on nuclear power is much better than that of the United Kingdom? Does not the tenth report of the Royal Commission on atmospheric pollution suggest that certain environmental factors should discourage the use of coal—not merely pollution in the atmosphere, but subsidence and the deposit of colliery shale? Those problems could be avoided completely with a bigger nuclear pogramme.

Mr. Walker

I agree with my hon. Friend that a country such as the United Kingdom should have a wide range of supply options available, and I attach importance to the safe and economic development of nuclear power. French industry and the French economy have benefited from the progress that the French have made in the use of nuclear power.

Mr. Wallace

Will the Secretary of State further elucidate the reply to the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) and tell us whether, when the economic costing of nuclear power for the year 2000 is calculated, the disposal of waste is based on the ALARA or the ALATA principle?

Mr. Walker

All the factors involved are taken into consideration in the projections. On every factor known, there is no doubt that nuclear energy has proved to be a sensible and economic form of energy. It has certainly benefited France.

Mr. Forman

What proportion of United Kingdom electricity will be produced by nuclear power in the year 2000?

Mr. Walker

The submissions made previously in the report of the Department of Energy showed that the proportion of nuclear capacity could be between 25 and 30 per cent.

Mr. Douglas

If the Secretary of State's projections were fulfilled, what would be the effect on coal burn?

Mr. Walker

It is likely that coal burn will remain a substantial element. There is a range of options. 'There are variations in gas and oil supplies as well as in coal. There is no doubt that the programme that we have inherited was agreed to by the Labour Government.

Mr. Latham

Is there the slightest prospect of reaching the target that was announced to the House in November 1979 by the then Secretary of State for Energy, my right hon. Friend the Member for Guildford (Mr. Howell)?

Mr. Walker

I do not recall the precise details of that announcement, but I should guess that the target then outlined will not be met, due to deferments and considerations of future investment programmes.

Mr. Orme

How important is Sizewell B to the Secretary of State's proposals?

Mr. Walker

I have not made proposals, but I have commented on the evidence that has been given about the role of Sizewell B. If, after the inquiry, it goes ahead, it would be an important factor; but we must await the results of that inquiry and consider fully what the inspector says.