HC Deb 21 July 1993 vol 229 cc337-8
4. Moss

To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement on his Department's policy towards alternative sources of energy.

Mr. Eggar

I propose to make a third order setting a renewables non-fossil fuel obligation for the 12 regional electricity companies in England and Wales, to run for 15 to 20 years as from November 1994 in respect of approximately 300 to 400 MW of new renewables capacity.

I have today placed a document with further details of the proposed arrangements in the Libraries of both Houses and in the Vote Office.

Mr. Moss

I thank my hon. Friend for that comprehensive answer, which will be warmly welcomed by all involved in renewal energy production. Can he tell the House when the first bids for the regional electricity companies are expected, and when he expects the first projects to become operational?

Mr. Eggar

I thank my hon. Friend for his response—it is indeed an important announcement that I have just made. We are hoping that bids will be submitted as from September, with the first projects becoming operational, we expect, within the next two years.

Mr. Skinner

Until the Government can use this alternative form of energy, instead of using up the small reserves of gas, would it not make more sense to depend more on coal, now that we have heard about the 22 per cent. increase in productivity? The French interconnector link should be stopped, saving six pits, and the rundown of the industry should be halted. The £1.3 billion subsidy should also be taken away from nuclear power. Then we could keep the pits open and keep another 30,000 people in jobs so that they will not have to pick up dole payments.

Mr. Eggar

If I were the hon. Gentleman, I would be very worried—for once he seems to agree with those on his Front Bench.

Mr. Stern

Is my hon. Friend aware that his announcement this afternoon will be welcomed by producers and potential producers of energy from renewable sources? Will the new tranches announced today also be available to existing producers of renewable energy or to producers who have been included in previous tranches but have not yet been able to start production?

Mr. Eggar

I am hoping to announce a fourth order in 1995, and a fifth in 1997. Today I give notice of that.

As for projects that have not so far proceeded but which could have been covered by the second order: assuming the correct procedure is followed then they may well be able to benefit from the third order.

Forward to