HC Deb 26 February 1990 vol 168 cc3-4
6. Mr. Alton

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy when he expects to publish a decision on whether the Mersey barrage will be constructed.

The Minister of State, Department of Energy (Mr. Peter Morrison)

The Mersey Barrage Company's application for the non-fossil fuel obligation is under consideration by my Department.

Mr. Alton

I thank the Minister for his personal commitment to the project. Does he intend to include the barrage scheme in the non-fossil fuel obligation? When is a decision likely to be reached? Will he confirm that of all the candidates for barrage schemes, his Department's findings show that the best location would be the River Mersey?

Mr. Morrison

To answer the hon. Gentleman's first point, he and the whole House will be pleased to hear that, under the non-fossil fuel obligation, about 300 applications have been handed by the distribution companies to my Department. A considerable amount of work remains to be done to discover which fit the criteria. The hon. Gentleman knows, because he came to see me in the Department, that I should like progress to be made on the Mersey barrage scheme. As for the difficulties of the scheme——

Mr. Skinner

Mañana man.

Mr. Morrison

I am delighted that the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) is interested in the Mersey barrage. The difficulties are commercial and environmental, and they will have to be considered carefully.

Mr. Butler

Will my hon. Friend confirm that £1 million worth of clear, renewable electricity could be generated each week by the scheme? Would not it be a most valuable and important precursor to a Severn barrage?

Mr. Morrison

I cannot confirm the precise amount to my hon. Friend, but it is certainly considerable. I am sure that, if it went ahead, the Mersey barrage would be a precursor to the Severn barrage.