HC Deb 30 January 2002 vol 379 cc385-6W
Mr. Grogan

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, pursuant to her answer of 17 December 2001,Official Report, column 109W, on energy contingency planning, if she will give details of (a) the contingency plans developed by the Gas Industry Emergency Committee and (b) the recent exercises, and their impacts on (i) gas and (ii) electricity customers. [30284]

Mr. Wilson

The Gas Industry Emergency Committee's work is not yet finished but I shall ensure that copies of the plans are placed in the Libraries of the House as soon as they are ready. I hope this will be in early April. The plans will supplement existing and well rehearsed emergency arrangements including Transco's Network Gas Supply Emergency Procedures. Copies of Transco's plans are already held in the Libraries of the House.

GIEC's aim is to dovetail those existing plans with wider Government and regulatory emergency powers and procedures to protect, as far as is possible, consumers from supply failures, and, should consumers be affected, to ensure that all available support is delivered speedily and effectively.

There have been two major exercises carried out in the last four months. The first was part of a regular test carried out under the Gas Safety (Management) Regulations. It was organised by the Health and Safety Executive. Among other things it tested the links between Transco, the Department for Trade and Industry and the National Grid Company (managers of the high-voltage electricity transmission system). It gave us a greater understanding of how the gas and electricity systems and markets would operate in an emergency.

The second exercise was broader and looked at the communications and roles and responsibilities across Government and other agencies (including the police and local authorities) in the event of terrorist action.

The results of both these exercises are being taken into account, not just in the development of the gas plans, but also in other emergency procedures, including those for electricity.