Oral Answers to Questions — Opencast Workings

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 29th April 1985.

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Photo of Mr Trevor Skeet Mr Trevor Skeet , Bedfordshire North 12:00 am, 29th April 1985

asked the Secretary of State for Energy how much coal he anticipates will be drawn from opencast workings in the next five years.

Photo of Mr David Hunt Mr David Hunt , Wirral West

The level of opencast output is determined primarily by market demand. I am not in a position to forecast what that demand might be in the next five years.

Photo of Mr Trevor Skeet Mr Trevor Skeet , Bedfordshire North

Does my hon. Friend realise that opencast working is a most profitable investment and would produce a much better return for the money which the Government are to pour into the mining industry? Should we not lift opencast production from 12 or 15 million tonnes to perhaps 20 million tonnes?

Photo of Mr David Hunt Mr David Hunt , Wirral West

I agree with my hon. Friend's comment about the opencast industry. The future is very good indeed.

Photo of Mr Ted Rowlands Mr Ted Rowlands , Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney

It is all very well for Conservative Members to advocate the expansion of opencast working. However, is the Minister aware of the possible environmental consequences of an expansion of opencast working. Do not our communities have as much right to a good environment as those in Finchley, Reigate or the Wirral?

Photo of Mr David Hunt Mr David Hunt , Wirral West

I agree. I do not think that there is any difference of opinion between the hon. Gentleman and myself on that point. There is always the question—sometimes a very difficult one—of marrying the disadvantages to the environment with the great advantages to the country.