|Draft Renewables Obligation Order 2002
Mr. Key: Scottish planning?
Mr. Wilson: Scottish planning is not covered by the document because planning is a devolved function. We learn from what happens in Scotland and Scotland will learn from the contents of the document. Hopefully, the system of planning throughout the country will be fairly uniform. The emphasis must be on flexibility. We do not want people to get bogged down with a specific location, so that if they cannot get a project going, the whole thing is stymied. Planning is a huge issue. I would appeal fundamentally to people's reasonableness. If every project is bogged down and obstructed, none of our targets will be met. People must have a democratic right to scrutinise projects, but ritual objection, especially the extreme hostility of some environmental organisations, must be tempered by a balanced approach.
Mr. Key: Can the Minister confirm that the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions consultation does not apply to Scotland, and does he accept that my broad analysis of the relationship between planning and the Electricity Act 1989 was correct?
Mr. Wilson: I do not think that it applies to Scotland, but when I looked at my officials, each head turned to the next one. I shall have to write to the hon. Gentleman on that matter.
I shall not involve myself in the question of last night's debate, which I was sadly unable to attend. I have made my views known: in the real world, planning powers are devolved, and that is the way it should be. We shall have intelligent debate on the future of nuclear power only when someone proposes to build a power station, and when people are
Column Number: 22discussing the implications of losing the nuclear contribution.
That is especially relevant in Scotland, where almost 50 per cent. of energy derives from nuclear power. People may have superficial doubts about nuclear power, but they have even bigger doubts about the lights going off—and their doubts would be bigger still if they were told that that 50 per cent. nuclear power contribution was to be replaced with renewables. Such a proposal sounds fine and dandy until it is necessary to get planning permission and to pay for that form of energy. Until there are proposals to deal with, we are living in a hypothetical world in which people may be in favour of all sorts of strange things that do not stand up to the scrutiny that they would be subject to in a real world.
It is worth remembering that the decision to have nuclear power stations was not simply imposed on Scotland. I have not yet read Hansard, but I suspect that nationalist mythology has it that some external forces inflicted them on us. First, my constituents would not believe that, as the power station in my constituency is our biggest employer. Secondly, the decision was taken in the Scottish Office long before devolution was implemented. They are our nuclear power stations, and I am happy with the historical precedent.
I hope that I have dealt with most of the points made by the hon. Gentleman and thank him for the manner in which he approached the debate. I hope that I can successfully commend the order and the obligation to the Committee.
Question put and agreed to.
Committee rose at eighteen minutes to Six o'clock.
The following Members attended the Committee:
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