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Coal-fired Power Stations

Volume 609: debated on Thursday 12 May 2016

10. When her Department plans to start its consultation on the phasing out of coal-fired power stations. (904998)

We are among the first developed countries to consult on phasing out coal. It is vital for our decarbonisation that we move away from the dirtiest fossil fuels, so holding a consultation is extremely important to make sure that we get views on how best to achieve our goal while ensuring energy security, which, as the hon. Lady will know, is non-negotiable. The consultation will begin in the near future.

I am grateful to the Minister for her response. There are still many people in the UK, in Wales and, indeed, in my constituency of Neath, who work in or are connected with the coal industry. What assurances will the Minister provide that the consultation will be properly thought through and will take time to explore the issues thoroughly so as not to leave people unduly concerned for their livelihoods?

The hon. Lady is exactly right to speak out for her community, which is precisely why we are undertaking the consultation. We want to take all the factors into account. I am sure that she and Opposition Members will agree that it is right that we move away from the dirtiest fossil fuels over time, but in a measured way, taking into account the impact on local communities and their livelihoods and what other opportunities there are for them in the energy space and in the workplace. I can totally assure her that we will consult carefully.

We would reach the question tabled by the hon. Member for Cannock Chase (Amanda Milling) anyway, but if she feels an irresistible urge to ask a question now instead, she can do so.

12. If Rugeley B, a coal-fired power station in my constituency, shuts this summer, will my hon. Friend commit to working across Departments to ensure that any application for a new gas power station can be dealt with in a timely manner that will help to create future job opportunities for the highly skilled workforce at the plant? (905000)

I congratulate my hon. Friend again on all the work she has done on that. I know it is an incredibly important constituency issue for her. I met her and a number of colleagues only recently to talk about the possibility of coal-fired power stations due to close becoming new combined cycle gas turbines. I welcome and encourage her efforts to support such an outcome. I have already told her that I will happily write to the Department for Communities and Local Government to ask what more, if anything, can be done to make it easier for planning permission to be granted for a new CCGT on the site of an old coal-fired power plant, and I will do that. She will be aware that DCLG is separately holding a consultation for those who are interested in making that transition, so that they can better understand the processes they would need to go through.