Examination of Witnesses (Questions 300
WEDNESDAY 28 NOVEMBER 2001
300.to be given to renewables in various
forms of subsidy, but that pales into insignificance in terms
of the subsidies given to other forms of energy such as nuclear,
for example. Do you have a view on that?
(Margaret Beckett) We are talking historic now, are
we not? The nuclear industry was set up many years ago. It has
always had substantial public funds, but it is under this Government
that a more forthright and sustained drive to promote and to develop
renewable energy use has begun to take shape and I anticipate
that that will continue.
301. Is there no truth in the rumours in the
press that the Government is planning to build 15 new nuclear
(Margaret Beckett) If this is a reference to what
it says in the PIU Energy Review we shall see when that review
302. Your department has been working on a grand
CHP strategy for some time.
(Margaret Beckett) Yes.
303. But are you saying that this is going to
be held up until after the PIU energy report?
(Margaret Beckett) As I say, we hope to consult on
the strategy around the turn of the year.
304. We are talking about January or February?
(Margaret Beckett) Yes, probably around then. We are
not talking about a long delay, but we are talking about having
the PIU review which obviously is an important backdrop to this
305. Could I just ask you on the Carbon Trust
what is your responsibility for that? We are not quite clear which
department is responsible for it.
(Margaret Beckett) That is because it was set up jointly
by ourselves and the DTI. It is one of the joint initiatives between
the two departments.
306. So it is a joint responsibility?
(Margaret Beckett) Indeed.
307. As you know, the Council for Business and
the Environment has expressed a lot of concern about the small
level of revenue coming into that from the Climate Change Levy
and has called for a review of that situation. Have you a response
(Margaret Beckett) The Trust has only just been set
up and it is in its formative stage. It is a perfectly legitimate
view to be expressed that in time the scale of its work is something
that might cause people to say
308. You are at an early stage yet?
(Margaret Beckett) Yes. It was only set up in April
so I think it is a bit early to say it has not got enough money.
309. Secretary of State, the Marine Conservation
Bill is in front of the House at the moment. Clearly we have to
find a workable compromise between serving the marine environment
and our drive (positive drive, you might think) towards harnessing
offshore wind and wave power. What work have you been doing with
colleagues in DTIindeed have you been doing any work with
colleagues in DTIon this and what is your overview about
promoting alternative forms of energy?
(Margaret Beckett) Obviously it is part of the work
that DTI is engaged in, the promotion of renewables, and it is
something that my department is engaged in as well, but I think
you will find that both DTI and my department are committed to
safeguarding marine biodiversity and to safeguarding the marine
environment. In fact we jointly fund something called the Joint
Nature Conservation Committee whose role is to provide us with
the kind of information we need to identify special areas of conservation
and special protection areas in the marine environment, particularly
close to our own shares, and to help us to meet the provisions
of the Habitats Directive and the Birds Directive.
310. Are there any protocols for that or any
background notes for that which we can look at?
(Margaret Beckett) Pass. I will find out.
Chairman: Secretary of State, that was a very
worthwhile session from our point of view and I hope you found
it so too. Thank you very much indeed.