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National Grid

Volume 599: debated on Thursday 17 September 2015

5. What recent discussions she has had with representatives of National Grid on ensuring that the UK’s energy supply is sustainable. (901435)

Ensuring that hard-working families and businesses across the country have secure affordable energy supplies that they can rely on is our top priority. The Government have worked closely with National Grid to put in place an effective plan, which worked well last winter. Last week, I met Steve Holliday, the chief executive officer of National Grid, to discuss its readiness, and he confirmed that it has everything it needs to manage the system this winter.

Last month, Scottish Power announced the closure of the Longannet power station, citing a disproportionate transmission charging system in which Scottish electricity generators pay substantially more than their counterparts south of the border. The charges were forecast to increase from £40 million this year to £51 million next. With up to a fifth of UK generating capacity expected to close over the next few years, does the Secretary of State agree that an unfair disproportionate regime is punishing operators in Scotland and undermining UK energy security?

I do not agree with that assertion. The fact is that Scottish taxpayers and bill payers have exactly the same needs as the rest of us in the UK—and that is to have secure and affordable energy. We spoke to National Grid about Longannet and we were reassured that it has the resources in place to ensure that we continue to have a secure supply of energy.

We understand that due to the failure of the policy of previous Governments, it is necessary for National Grid to buy in from mainland Europe electricity supplies to keep the lights on in Britain. What is not acceptable is for the Grid to run massive pylons from Richborough in Kent across to Canterbury, which is totally unnecessary. If the Grid can bury cables in the New Forest, it can bury them in the garden of England. Will the Secretary of State please make sure that that happens?

I have looked into this matter, about which my hon. Friend has written to me. I know how beautiful that part of England is, so I will certainly look carefully and work with National Grid to arrive at an outcome.