HC Deb 19 February 1979 vol 963 cc22-3W
Mr. Adam Hunter

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what support is being given to coal liquefaction as a result of the recommendations in "Coal Technology", the report of the research and development working party of the Coal Industry Tripartite Group, published on 24 May 1978.

Mr. Eadie

I have today signed a contract with Sir Derek Ezra, chairman of the NCB, under which the Government will provide to the NCB up to two-thirds of the cost of design studies, technical support and evaluation of bids for the construction of two 25-tonne per day pilot plants. The total cost of this first phase of the work is estimated to be £1.2 million and the Government's contribution will be up to £800,000.

This support relates to pilot plants aimed at the production of chemical feed-stocks and the full range of transport fuels, using the NCB's liquid solvent extraction and supercritical gas solvent extraction processes described in the tripartite group report.

The full design study phase will last about 18 months, when a further agreement will be considered for the construction phase, estimated to cost £30 million. If that phase is initiated the Government are prepared to contribute up to £20 million.