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Cross-Channel Electricity Links

Volume 959: debated on Monday 4 December 1978

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7.

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make a further statement on the development of cross-Channel electricity links

Discussions of detail on the technical and commercial aspects of the cross-Channel link are continuing between the CEGB and Electricité de France. I have, however, nothing to add to the reply given by my right hon. Friend to the hon. Member for Thanet, East (Mr. Aitken) on 3rd August, when he indicated that the British Government had approved the link in principle.

Will my right hon. Friend accept that, although we all welcome the announcement which was made in the summer, rapid progress is required in this area of activity? Does he agree that development of these links is vital for the medium-term market for coal and also for the electricity generating programme?

Yes, Sir. The link is planned to come into operation in stages. The first 1,000 megawatts will come into operation in 1982 and the second in 1983. We have assumed for the purposes of appraisal a life expectancy of 30 years.

Does"Channel"in this context include the North Channel? If not, will the Government see that that link also is borne in mind in view of the contribution that the Kilroot power station could make to electricity supplies in the United Kingdom generally?

I expected the right hon. Gentleman to ask me that supplem1entary question. As I said on the last occasion when this matter arose, we are looking favourably at such a proposal. Unfortunately, we have not got quite as far on that matter as we have on the matter that is before us in this Question.

Will the fact that the new extension to Dungeness is not now to be built affect this decision? Will the Minister bear in mind that there are already two sets of high-tension lines across Romney Marsh and that the inhabitants of the area will not welcome a third?

I am not sure, without notice, about the third part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question, but in reply to the first part the answer is that it does not affect the position of the station. The cables go from Folkestone to Sangatte and power will be fed into the national grid at Sellinge, which will be linked to the Folkestone terminal by an underground DC cable. That is the only information I have before me on this matter.