§ Mr. Sheerman
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps he is taking to promote energy from offshore wind. 
§ Mr. Hain
[holding answer 26 March 2001]: The Government are taking a number of steps to promote the development of offshore wind. We believe that this technology will have an important role to play in helping us to meet our renewables targets.
Offshore wind will be eligible for the new Renewables Obligation that the Government are proposing to introduce in October this year. In addition, in view of the early stage of development of offshore wind, the Government are planning to provide capital grants to support its development. Of the £250 million allocated for renewables support over the next three years, at least £49 million has been allocated specifically for offshore wind and further sums may be allocated in the light of the recommendations of the Performance and Innovation Unit, due to be published later this year.
The grants will be used to fund a number of early demonstration projects for offshore wind. The aim is that these will reduce the costs involved to a more acceptable level, and provide those involved with a bank of knowledge and experience to enable them to pursue more ambitious projects on a commercial basis.
The Government are also determined to provide a more streamlined consents process for offshore wind. The existing arrangements are fragmented and the proposal is for DTI to act as a "one-stop-shop" for planning and consents. I launched a consultation paper of 20 February and views are sought by 23 April.