HC Deb 04 December 1996 vol 286 cc1034-5
14. Mr. Tipping

To ask the President of the Board of Trade what steps he has taken to promote the further development of clean coal technology. [5794]

Mr. Page

In the past 12 months, in partnership with United Kingdom industry and universities, we have initiated 51 clean coal technology research and development projects worth more than £16 million.

Mr. Tipping

Has the Minister seen estimates that, by the year 2003, more than half our electricity will be generated by gas? If that is correct, does it not imply, first, that the coal industry faces further difficulties and, secondly, that it is vital to invest in clean coal technology in the longer term to ensure security of supply?

Mr. Page

There are two aspects to my response to the hon. Gentleman. First, I believe that British industry can take advantage of a vast export market by using the types of technologies advanced through those research and development programmes. Secondly, the Government believe that any demonstration of clean coal technology is best undertaken as part of the European Commission's development programme. The project could cost £300 million or £400 million. Officials took a group of industrialists to Brussels recently, and that is the best way to ensure that that sort of technology is introduced into the United Kingdom.

Mr. Beggs

In addition to the steps already taken, will the Minister make contact with the Environmental Engineering Concepts company in my constituency, which has produced a product that promotes almost 100 per cent. combustion and reduces noxious emissions and maintenance costs? That product would be invaluable in promoting clean coal technology.

Mr. Page

Since 1993, 43 United Kingdom companies have taken part in a host of projects that have produced the kind of product to which the hon. Gentleman refers. I could give the House a list of companies that have enjoyed extremely good export sales from technologies of that kind. I will ensure that my Department contacts that company to evaluate its position in the process.