The Government will be reviewing their policy on renewable energy sources in the second six months of this year. We will also be bringing forward a further renewable order, including reserved bands for a range of technologies later this year, and my Department will continue to support a major research and development programme aimed at developing all those renewable technologies relevant to conditions in the United Kingdom.
I thank the Minister for that reply. In the review, will he take on board the fact that his earlier announcement about contractual arrangements between private suppliers in Scotland and the Scottish boards does nothing to benefit the generation of development of renewables by the Atomic Energy Authority's technology? Will he particularly consider the possibility of that authority being involved in the development of the programme to which he referred?
We are very keen to find a positive way forward on the Mersey barrage scheme. My officials have received a report from the Mersey Barrage Company and are currently considering it in detail. To date, we have spent £2·4 million of the £4·8 million total programme budget for the project, and we hope very much that solutions can be found to the problems and the challenges which lie ahead for the MBC.
Does not the Minister consider that to be a disappointing reply? Will he look for a much more positive and generous investment in tidal power—a range of tidal barrages around our coast? Is it not true that for many years, possibly a century, we have neglected the use of tidal power—which is British, eternal and non-polluting?
No, I do not believe that my reply was in any way disappointing. I mentioned that we were hoping positively to find an appropriate way forward on the Mersey barrage scheme. On tidal energy research., we have put more than £8 million into development and demonstration. We have supported on a 50:50 basis feasibility studies on the Mersey barrage, and the Department has funded about £4 million towards studies for a Severn barrage. That is a very positive programme to identify appropriate, commercially viable and environmentally acceptable projects in tidal energy.