Will my right hon. Friend confirm that the expanded use of renewable energy sources adds a cost burden for Scottish electricity consumers? Will he point out to Opposition Members that if they wish to pursue high energy cost options, they should do so at a reasonable level? I congratulate my right hon. Friend on getting the levels right.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for saying that. He makes a reasonable point, but I am sure that he will welcome the fact that renewable energy sources are being developed in that way. The additional costs, spread over three or four years, will amount to less than 0.5 per cent., which is an acceptable increase against a background of electricity prices that have fallen substantially in real terms since privatisation.
I am surprised at the Secretary of State's statement, and would be grateful if he explained how he can say that about renewable energy when he has turned down a pioneering proposal for the Dalmacoulter landfill site, in my constituency. The proposal—to burn off methane gas to generate electricity—would provide enough fuel to heat 1,000 homes for 20 years, and fits in with the Government's new much-vaunted private sector initiative. What is more, it would require an investment of only £100,000—less than half the salary of the chief executive of Scottish Power.
I have to point out to the hon. Lady that the bid was not successful because it was so expensive. The Dalmacoulter landfill site bid failed to obtain a contract because it was the most expensive of all the eight landfill gas projects bidding for a contract, and was priced considerably in excess of the director general's recommended ceiling price. It was for that reason, and no other, that it was unsuccessful.