HC Deb 15 December 1986 vol 107 cc762-3
8. Mr. Orme

asked the Secretary of State for Energy when he last met the chairman of the Central Electricity Generating Board to discuss the ordering of new coal-fired capacity.

Mr. Peter Walker

I meet the chairman regularly and we discuss a wide range of issues.

Mr. Orme

Did the Secretary of State discuss the urgent need to order two new coal-fired stations? As hon. Members on both sides have said, there is some worry about this. I recently met representatives from NEI and GEC. We are aware that the CEGB is anxious to go ahead with such orders. When will the Secretary of State give the go-ahead?

Mr. Walker

I assure the right hon. Gentleman that there is no lack of go-ahead on my part, because I cannot give the go-ahead or make a decision until an application is made. I have received no application from the CEGB for any power station other than Sizewell B. I assure the right hon. Gentleman that if I do receive applications they will be quickly and carefully considered.

Mr. Hannam

When my right hon. Friend is notified of any proposed coal-fired stations, will he try to ensure that the best use is made of generated heat by utilising combined heat and power?

Mr. Walker

Yes. The prospect of combined heat and power should be looked at in connection with any power station.

Mr. Nicholas Brown

The Secretary of State was in the House last week during Trade and Industry questions and will have heard what was said then about the need to secure a base domestic work load for the power plant industry so that it can compete in export markets. What discussions about these matters does he have with his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry?

Mr. Walker

We work closely together on a whole range of areas. For example, the Department of Trade and Industry has done a great deal in assisting the acquisition of export orders when little has been going on in the home market. Likewise, my Department has helped in export drives and Ministers have gone out to help with that. Only last week I had a meeting with the chief executive of NEI to discuss problems. There is a close liaison.

Mr. Andy Stewart

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the record outputs per man shift from Britain's coalfields deserve an announcement before Christmas about two new coal-fired power stations in Nottinghamshire?

Mr. Walker

I shall have to wait for applications for power stations before I can make any announcement.

Mr. Dormand

Will the Secretary of State see whether he can get some firm information on the rumours referred to by his hon. Friend some time ago about the possible building of coal-fired power stations at deep water ports on the south coast? If those rumours are right, is it not obvious that the CEGB has in mind importing yet more coal?

Mr. Walker

I gather that a whole range of sites have been considered all over Britain. I genuinely do not know which of those sites, if any, the CEGB favours. When it makes an application, I shall consider it.