Scottish Coal (Opencast Coal Reserves)

Scottish Executive Question Time — General Questions – in the Scottish Parliament at 11:39 am on 25th November 2010.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Hugh O'Donnell Hugh O'Donnell Liberal Democrat 11:39 am, 25th November 2010

To ask the Scottish Executive, in light of its policy on renewable energy, what its best estimate is, at current prices, of the amount and value of the opencast coal reserves remaining in the land transferred to Scottish Coal at privatisation. (S3O-12102)

Photo of Jim Mather Jim Mather Scottish National Party

I regret that the information is not held centrally.

Photo of Hugh O'Donnell Hugh O'Donnell Liberal Democrat

That kind of shoots my fox. Thank you, Mr Mather. In light of that, I suspect that I will get a similar answer to my follow-up question. Will the minister ascertain the information and write to me at a later date with it? Also, who would receive any royalties resulting from the extraction of the said coal? For example, would the Scottish Government be a beneficiary? What could be the impact of the extraction of the said coal reserves on the Government's carbon emissions reduction targets? I fully recognise that the minister will not have his answers to hand.

Photo of Jim Mather Jim Mather Scottish National Party

I understand the member's frustration that I do not have the data to give him. I also understand his desire to see royalties, but minerals policy is, of course, a reserved matter. I can tell him something that might be quite interesting and point a way forward. Russell Griggs who heads the regulatory review group and sits on the Scottish Enterprise board, has run a couple of interesting events recently, one of which happened at Powharnal in East Ayrshire. He spoke to the community and wider interests there about the economic, environmental and social impact of coal. On the back of that, he was asked to hold a two-day session on carbon capture and storage—he has now completed it—in which he brought together all the stakeholders in a Shell scenario-type planning session, which may end up having global significance. Others across the world are looking at it with some interest. That may be the route to doing something together that might allow us to take forward the member's suggestion. Perhaps we can talk further about that.

Photo of Kenneth Gibson Kenneth Gibson Scottish National Party

In light of the draft electricity generation policy statement that was published last week, can the minister confirm that 2.5GW of new, efficient thermal generation would satisfy all of Scotland's security of supply needs? Will he further confirm that there is therefore no need for an increase in current thermal capacity and that the basis of the decision on each application for thermal electricity generation new build, such as at Hunterston, will be the economic, environmental and social merits of the application?

Photo of Jim Mather Jim Mather Scottish National Party

I have to agree with that. It is a sound analysis of what is in play. Equally, Scotland is pressing ahead with looking to consolidate the demonstrator at Longannet and the carbon capture and storage potential that could be a huge new industry for Scotland, one that could have a disproportionate impact on and benefit for our country.