Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Baroness Northover: My Lords, is the noble Baroness aware that news organisations sending journalists to Iraq must now pay more for their insurance than they did at the height of the conflict? Is that not a barometer of how unstable things are in Iraq? Surely we will not see real improvements in services until Iraq is more secure. What are the Government doing to persuade the Americans to enable the international community to play a larger part in Iraq so that security will be improved?

Baroness Amos: My Lords, noble Lords will know that the security situation remains extremely fragile. We are doing all that we can to improve it. It is a combination of criminal activity with the involvement of terrorist elements.

18 Sept 2003 : Column 1051

With respect to the wider involvement of the international community, the noble Baroness will be aware that other nations are already involved with the coalition in Iraq. I think that there are some 30 nations, but I shall happily write to the noble Baroness with the details. We are engaged in discussions in the Security Council for a further UN Security Council resolution, which, we hope, will mean that a more international force can come into play in Iraq.

Lord Crickhowell: My Lords, a close relation of my wife has been in Baghdad with the World Health Organisation. He had telephoned and e-mailed me regularly until he was evacuated temporarily to Amman because of the security situation. The last report that I received from him, about 10 days ago, was that electricity supplies in Baghdad are on for the general population for only about two hours a day, despite the fact that it has been an exceptionally hot summer. In the light of that information, how does the noble Baroness really think that we will get electricity—and, therefore, water and sewerage systems—working in the time-scale that I thought she indicated in her Answer?

Baroness Amos: My Lords, it is true that in Baghdad and other parts of Iraq there have been times when electricity supplies have operated for only three or four hours per day. Noble Lords can imagine how much electricity cable there is in a country the size of Iraq: the opportunity for sabotage is enormous. When infrastructure that has been starved of investment is repaired or improved, there is often sabotage on the cables overnight. Clearly, the security situation must improve, but we must also deal with overnight sabotage.

With respect to electricity more generally, we are planning to increase the supply of electricity by the end of September. Last week, a note from my department was placed in the Libraries of both Houses giving an update on the situation as regards electricity, water, food and health. The note will be updated on a regular basis, so that noble Lords are kept informed of any change.

Lord Swinfen: My Lords, can the noble Baroness tell the House whether these two cities had full electricity, water and sewage services before the recent conflict?

Baroness Amos: My Lords, the situation in Baghdad was different from that in Basra; for example, vital infrastructure in Basra had been starved of investment. While there was access to services in Basra, it was not available at the full levels found in Baghdad. We have been trying, particularly in the south, not only to bring services back to pre-conflict levels but also to improve on that. When I was in Iraq I saw the terrible state of some water treatment plants, for example. As I said,

18 Sept 2003 : Column 1052

we are not only trying to bring those services back to pre-war levels; we are also trying to raise their availability beyond those levels.

Earl Attlee: My Lords, have we managed to halt the movement and export of copper scrap in the UK area of operations?

Baroness Amos: My Lords, I am unable to answer the noble Earl's question. I am aware that, immediately after the conflict, a great deal of copper scrap was leaving the country as a result of criminal activity. I know that we have made some improvement in the situation, but I do not know the extent to which we have been able to halt such activity. I shall therefore write to the noble Earl.

The Lord President of the Council (Lord Williams of Mostyn): My Lords, we are substantially over time.

Wind Turbines

11.23 a.m.

Lord Campbell of Croy asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether it is still their intention that 10 per cent of the energy needed in England and Wales should be generated by wind turbines by the year 2010.

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, the Government have not set a specific target for wind energy. They remain committed to the target of obtaining 10 per cent of the UK's electricity from all renewable sources eligible for the renewables obligation by 2010. Wind energy, from both on and offshore installations, is likely to be the largest contributor.

Lord Campbell of Croy: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for his reply. While renewable sources should be exploited so far as is practicable, might not the Government have to create veritable forests of windmills, mostly around our coasts, if they continue with this intention?

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, as I indicated in my initial reply, it is certainly the case that we are looking to wind energy to provide a substantial proportion of the 10 per cent target. We expect the majority of intensive wind farms to be on the coast, which raises important issues that this House will recognise. The Government are confident that, first, we have in place both the commitment to hit 10 per cent, and, secondly, a strategy which will ensure that we do.

Earl Peel: My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that many people in this country are becoming increasingly concerned at the encroachment of wind farms into some of the most sensitive parts of the British Isles? Could the Minister give a guarantee that at least areas

18 Sept 2003 : Column 1053

of outstanding natural beauty and national parks will be preserved from these white aliens? Otherwise, what is the purpose of such designations?

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, I recognise the point made by the noble Earl. We certainly need to give careful attention to planning permission with regard to wind farms. In the wrong place, they can obviously detract from the beauty of an area. Clearly, national parks will need special protection. As I indicated in my earlier reply, we are anticipating that the major concentration of wind farms will be a considerable distance from any national parks.

Lord Ezra: My Lords, does the noble Lord agree that even if the objectives for wind power were achieved, it would still be difficult to meet the emission reduction target of 2010 and even more difficult thereafter because of the withdrawal of nuclear power? In those circumstances, should not the Government mobilise other means of carbon reduction more effectively? For example, should more support be given to combined heat and power (CHP), which is presently in difficulty, including micro-CHP, in which I declare an interest, to tidal power, to bio-mass in its various forms, to clean coal technology processes, including carbon extraction, and to the recovery of methane from coal mines, all of which could make a big contribution in the future to carbon reduction?

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, the House well recognises the expertise of the noble Lord in this area. I am grateful for his contribution. We recognise that the target for reduction of CO 2 emissions is difficult to hit. The 10 per cent target is challenging for this form of energy. He is right. We need to invest in many other forms of energy generation in order to hit the targets. I assure the noble Lord that the Government are already investing in a number of these developments; namely, wind and wave power, and clean coal technologies, to which he referred in particular. They all play their part in hitting a target to which we are committed.

A noble Lord: My Lords, with regard to the potential of tidal—

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, it is the turn of the Cross-Benchers.

Lord Oxburgh: My Lords, my question is about the intermittency of wind, which does not matter very much when the total contribution of wind to the national energy supply is at the level of a few per cent. When the wind does not blow, the shortfall can be readily accommodated by the rest of the system. At higher levels, it is a different story. There must be standby capacity that can come in when the wind does not blow. That changes both the cash and the carbon economics of wind power significantly. Can the Minister explain how this is taken into account in the Government's policy?

18 Sept 2003 : Column 1054

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, the noble Lord has identified a key point. It is clearly the case, given the obvious intermittent quality of wind production, that it will be necessary for proper research and investment into storage techniques to ensure that we have sufficient capacity to meet those occasions when immediate on-stream electricity is not so readily available.

The noble Lord will also recognise that when we hit our targets this form of technology will still be playing a small part of the overall provision of energy in this country.

Lord Harrison: My Lords, does my noble friend believe that those who criticise wind energy are simply tilting at windmills?

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page