Average annual investment in energy infrastructure from 2010 to 2012 has been £8.5 billion, more than double the average for 1997 to 2010. Our electricity market reform and other measures are designed to continue this investment surge and sustain it.
The hon. Gentleman will know that we are taking a whole range of measures. Obviously, the Energy Bill itself gives a very strong legal framework and the levy control framework up to 2020 gives visibility on the overall support for the system. I am sure the hon. Gentleman will also welcome the announcements we made on
I welcome my right hon. Friend’s decision to seek extra investment in the nuclear industry by selling the Government’s share in Urenco, which has many factories in my constituency. Has he entered into any negotiations on the treaty of Almelo to allow non-treaty countries to purchase shares in the company?
I am grateful for my hon. Friend’s comments. He will know that the Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change, my right hon. Friend Michael Fallon, wearing both his DECC hat and his Department for Business, Innovation and Skills hat, is very much at the centre of those discussions. We are talking to both the Dutch and the German Governments, who are key to this sale.
The Secretary of State will know that one of the problems associated with infrastructure is the transmission charge in getting the energy to market. Project TransmiT came up with a reform package, but its implementation appears to have been delayed. I understand that it was supposed to be in place by next April. Is the Secretary of State able to tell us when it is likely to come into being and what he can do to push that forward?
The hon. Gentleman will know that Project TransmiT is run by Ofgem, as the independent regulator. Clearly, it would be improper for us to put pressure on the independent regulator. He will also know that we have worked very closely with the Scottish Government on issues such as those relating to the Scottish islands, where there is particular concern about transmission charges. I am sure the hon. Gentleman supports the Government’s announcement last week that we will publish a consultation on strike prices for renewables on the Scottish islands.
Is the Secretary of State aware that this country has a problem with not having enough transmission and distribution electricity engineers and that that is holding up new generation projects from being connected to the grid? What can he do to try to resolve the problem?
My hon. Friend makes a very good point. It is important that the frameworks and policies that we put in place are stable and long-term in order to encourage people to invest in skills. He will be aware that Ofgem’s long-term settlement with the National Grid Company for the networks has been widely welcomed and will give incentives for investment.