HC Deb 26 November 1984 vol 68 cc606-7
5. Mr. Sean Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what percentage of the costs appertaining to the Sizewell B public inquiry will be or are being met by public funds.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Energy (Mr. Alastair Goodlad)

Costs up to 31 October 1984 falling to my Department were some £396,000. Other costs incurred to the same date in running the inquiry and recoverable from the Central Electricity Generating Board, by agreement with the board, total approximately £1,567,000.

Mr. Hughes

In view of the Secretary of State's anxiety, expressed last week, about the plight of the unemployed, will the Minister ask his right hon. Friend to reconsider passing on so much of that charge to the consumer who, in areas of high unemployment, can ill afford fuel at the present prices? For example, Merseyside has seen fuel disconnections increased by 10 per cent. during the past 12 months.

Mr. Goodlad

My right hon. Friend has the statutory power to determine who shall meet the costs of inquiries for consents under the Electricity Acts. It is a long accepted practice that the electricity board making the application meets such costs.

Mr. Chapman

Given the length and cost of the Sizewell B inquiry, may I have my right hon. Friend's assurance that any future inquiry relating to another nuclear power station will concentrate on the specific merits of the site and the need for the additional power station? The Sizewell B inquiry has been concerned also with the general merits of nuclear power as an alternative form of energy, and that should not be repeated.

Mr. Goodlad

I note what my hon. Friend says. Decisions on applications for future planning consents will be taken in the light of the circumstances from time to time prevailing.

Mr. Eadie

Has the Minister any new information as to when the inquiry is likely to end?

Mr. Goodlad

I regret that I have no firm information on that point.

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