HC Deb 26 March 1990 vol 170 cc8-9
9. Mr. Maples

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what initiatives his Department is taking to develop commercially viable and environmentally acceptable forms of renewable technology.

Mr. Peter Morrison

The Government are supporting a major research and development programme aimed at developing commercially viable and environmentally acceptable renewable energy technologies to contribute to future energy supply.

Mr. Maples

How many such projects are there and to what extent are private sector companies involved in them?

Mr. Morrison

There are some 300 or so such projects. We hope to see another 60 or 70 come on stream this year. They are very much joint ventures between the public and private sectors.

Mr. Pike

Does the Minister recognise that, with the privatisation of gas and electricity, measures on renewable sources of energy and environmentally positive moves will always come second to the profit motive and market forces? If we are to have positive moves in such a direction, will the Government do much more?

Mr. Morrison

I remind the hon. Gentleman of the non-fossil fuel obligation. We have had 339 applications under that obligation, which are to be reviewed; that shows that, with the privatisation of electricity, renewables will be encouraged.

Mr. Barry Field

What reassurance can my right hon. Friend give that our beautiful coastline will not be littered with great big windmill generators under this programme? Having recently refused to endorse such a programme for Tennyson Down, I should not like to see my right hon. Friend become a modern-day Don Quixote.

Mr. Morrison

That is a blandishment which I find it difficult to resist. The normal planning application procedure will apply, but my hon. Friend makes a fair and reasonable point.