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National Policy Statements

Volume 528: debated on Thursday 19 May 2011

As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said in his statement yesterday, we are carefully considering Dr Weightman’s interim report on the implications for the UK of events at Fukushima. Subject to that, we intend to lay the energy national policy statements before Parliament as soon as possible.

In the extra time that the Minister probably now has available, will he consider giving greater consideration to the local economic benefits of nuclear power stations in the site-specific report, with particular regard to Dungeness and Romney Marsh in my constituency?

My hon. Friend is a doughty champion of the case for Dungeness. We have examined carefully the evidence that has come forward, and we will publish it when the relevant documents are republished very shortly. He will have to be patient for a little longer, but I assure him that we have given every attention to the evidence that has been presented to us.

Yesterday we heard the Secretary of State say that the national policy statements would be published shortly, and the Minister has repeated that today. With the stringent targets in the fourth carbon budget and the previous three, businesses need certainty if we are to meet our carbon reduction targets. Will the Minister be more precise and tell us exactly when the Department is planning to publish—not just “shortly”, but a date?

The hon. Lady will be aware that given the nature of the report provided by Dr Weightman yesterday, it would be wrong to make premature and rushed conclusions. We have to go through the right process. We are in the current situation because the national policy statements that the last Government published contained a massive flaw that required them to be consulted upon again. We have had to go through that process, which has involved extra time and delay. However, we will bring them forward for full parliamentary scrutiny in the next few weeks.