HC Deb 22 January 2004 vol 416 cc1459-60
6. Paddy Tipping (Sherwood) (Lab)

What research she has undertaken into the effect that the implementation of the large combustion plant directive will have on the UK coal industry. [149736]

The Minister for Energy, E-Commerce and Postal Services (Mr. Stephen Timms)

In June, the Department for Environment. Food and Rural Affairs published a consultation on the implementation of the directive informed by analysis commissioned by external consultants. We continue to assess the directive's potential impact on the coal industry and its major customers, the coal-fired electricity generators. That assessment includes external research, and we are in detailed discussion with the industries themselves.

Paddy Tipping

I am grateful for that reply and for the personal interest that the Minister has taken in this matter. Does he accept the figures that come from the coal industry and the generators showing that if the national plan, which appears to be the Government's favoured option, is pursued, 15.000 jobs will be at risk, at a cost to the economy of £700 million?

Mr. Timms

I have seen those figures, and I want to emphasise that no final decision has been taken on how to implement the directive in the UK. It is certainly the case that the coal industry and most, but not all, coal-fired electricity generators prefer the alternative emission-limit values approach. I shall meet industry representatives of both viewpoints in the next few weeks, to help us to finalise our decision. There are very different views about how the national plan approach would affect the coal industry, and the analysis so far indicates that it would impose a lower cost overall on the economy, but we need to look carefully at all the issues to ensure that we make the right decision.

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