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Ministerial Meetings

Volume 508: debated on Thursday 8 April 2010

5. When he next expects to meet local authorities in East Anglia to discuss renewable energy initiatives in that area. (325608)

The hon. Gentleman will understand that I have no plans to meet local authorities in East Anglia at this time, but meetings continue at official level as appropriate.

Have the Government set renewable energy generation targets for counties? Is the Minister aware that Norfolk has many offshore wind turbines both in place and planned for the future? Will that offshore energy be part of the renewable target for coastal shire counties?

What I can tell the hon. Gentleman is that the Department has developed and published a methodology to help regional authorities to assess potential renewable and low-carbon energy in their areas. He is on record as having many objections to onshore wind energy, and arguing that offshore wind is preferable. The Government believe that we need both onshore and offshore wind energy. There is no question but that onshore wind is the most proven and most reliable of our renewable technologies, and we cannot set it aside, although we are developing offshore wind energy for which, as he knows, we are the leading country in the world. Offshore wind energy is two or three times more expensive than onshore wind, depending on location, which is why there is no question about it—we must have a mix.

Over a year ago, we called for the setting up of marine renewable energy parks to help make Britain the world leader in development of wave and tidal power. As the tide finally goes out on the Government and we wave them goodbye, does the Minister accept that she could and should have done more to bring together local authorities in East Anglia and other coastal areas to highlight the UK’s huge potential in those crucial technologies, and to ensure that the investment in green jobs that they can bring comes to Britain instead of, again, going to other countries?

The hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that the Government have made great strides in developing marine technology. In the south-west, we already have a wave hub, to which we have made £60 million available. We have made it clear that, although it is not an immediate technology, which can be deployed at this moment, as wind can—the hon. Gentleman needs to get his party’s position on wind straight—[Interruption.] Yes, objection? There is a 60 per cent. refusal rate. We are working on marine technology, we are giving money, and we are developing the strategy, which will follow on naturally from all the other investment in renewables that the Government are making.