HC Deb 17 December 1998 vol 322 cc707-8W
Mr. Matthew Taylor

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps he has taken to promote new green technologies and businesses. [62383]

Mr. Battle

The Government recognise the enormous potential of the UK environmental industry to develop new green technologies which both provide solutions to environmental problems and boost the UK economy. Support in promoting the activities of this sector is provided through a number of activities.

DTI plays an important role in supporting the science and engineering base and business to develop and exploit sustainable technologies and processes. Science and engineering research received a major boost of £1.1 billion as a result of the Comprehensive Spending Review.

The Foresight Steering Group has identified sustainable technologies as a top priority. Specific initiatives under the Foresight programme include the Vehicle Link programme (which has recently received a further £5 million) and sustainable technologies for a cleaner world. Foresight is currently being developed to make it more effective and will be underpinned by the theme of sustainable development. Earlier this month eighteen projects received Foresight LINK Awards, which bring together business and the science base to work in areas identified by the Foresight programme as important to the future prosperity and quality of life of the UK.

The Cleaner Vehicles Task Force was launched last year to provide a partnership between government, manufacturers, users and pressure groups to identify practical measures to reduce the environmental impact of vehicles.

The LINK scheme also plays an important part in developing and transferring knowledge on new sustainable technologies. Research ranges from the development of biotechnologies to remove pollutants from streams and soils, to using earth observation satellites for monitoring the natural environment.

The renewables industry received a boost last September with the announcement of the largest ever obligation on the Public Electricity Suppliers to secure 1177 MW of new electricity generating capacity from renewable sources of energy.

The Environment Technology Best Practice Programme (ETBPP) produces high quality technical advice in relation to specific industrial sectors including examples of businesses which have established good practice procedures and made use of new technologies.

The Joint DTI/DETR Environmental Markets Unit (JEMU) encourages development of British businesses in the environmental sector and promotes the UK as a supplier of environmental solutions. JEMU's Business Plan, which was launched on 18 March by Michael Meacher and myself, details planned activities designed to raise the profile of the industry both at home and overseas.

We are committed to working with business and others to identify and promote ways in which firms can move towards sustainability. The Government's consultation document "Sustainable Business" published in June, set out some ideas on how this can be best achieved. The responses from business—over 500 were received—were generally positive, and will be reflected in our new national Sustainable Development Strategy which is due to be published early in the New Year.