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Nuclear Power

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 8:16 pm on 22nd October 2002.

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Photo of Mr Brian Wilson Mr Brian Wilson Minister of State (Industry and Energy), Department of Trade and Industry 8:16 pm, 22nd October 2002

It was not one third, but two thirds of the projects approved under the non-fossil fuel obligation that never came to fruition. By definition, most of them were for onshore wind farms. Now that offshore wind farms are coming forward, we are, of course, beginning to hear objections to them. I quoted the example of the Solway Firth site. The only reason that people were in favour of them before was that no one was suggesting them. As soon as sites were suggested, all sorts of interest groups came out of the woodwork—some of them perfectly legitimate, such as civil aviation, Ministry of Defence interests and other maritime users. It is not true that the conditions exist along most of the coastline for offshore wind farms. Furthermore, it is not true that the applications will automatically have an easy ride.

I believe that wind farms have a huge contribution to make, but they are still at the developmental stage, and their technology is not yet fully commercial. As my hon. Friend Mr. Chaytor probably noticed, we have approved two grants of #10 million each over the past two weeks, for the North Hoyle development and for Scroby Sands. I hope that those two examples are the first of many. Okay, most of these are wind projects at present, but that is not because of any preference. It is because, although the other kinds of project have been around for a long time, it is very hard to get them up to a level at which they can be commercially viable.