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Draft National Policy Statement for Fossil Fuel Electricity Generating Infrastructure (EN-2)

Volume 718: debated on Thursday 11 March 2010

Considered in Grand Committee

Moved By

That the Grand Committee do report to the House that it has considered the Draft National Policy Statement for Fossil Fuel Electricity Generating Infrastructure (EN-2).

My Lords, I am pleased to open this, our third session on the energy national policy statements.

Before we begin the debate, I should like to make a short statement. Several noble Lords have raised the question of whether, if an election should fall before the due parliamentary process envisaged by the Planning Act can be completed, parliamentary scrutiny of the six energy national policy statements and the ports national policy statement would be curtailed. I can assure the Committee that we have no desire to short-circuit the process that has been laid down. It is a crucial part of the validation of the national policy statements. Under the Planning Act procedures, it is open to any noble Lord to table a resolution on one or more of the national policy statements. The Leader of the House has given an undertaking that the usual channels would provide time to debate any such resolution within the scrutiny period, and I am confident that she will seek to meet that undertaking. However, it will not have escaped noble Lords’ attention that an election is on the horizon. If those debates fall in the pre-election wash-up we intend to facilitate an early debate or debates, as appropriate, once the new Parliament resumes. The same would apply to similar proceedings in the other place.

My Lords, I had not for one moment thought that if we tabled resolutions they would not be taken before the Parliament was dissolved. I have been working on that assumption and I propose to discuss draft resolutions with the Table Office on Monday, with a view to tabling them on Monday. I have been told by the usual channels that they cannot fix a day for the debate until they have seen the resolutions on the Order Paper. I hope that that will be on Tuesday. We are not going to disappear as quickly as that. I would be dismayed if we had to go through those resolutions after the election.

My Lords, that is of course a matter for the usual channels. The point that I am making is that if the usual channels are unable to find time before an election is called—none of us knows when that election will be—the Government would expect that time would be found after the election. I do not think that I can say anything more. I am seeking to give reassurance that, whenever the election is called, this matter will be debated none the less in the main Chamber.

My Lords, the Minister will remember that under the procedures put to Parliament by his Secretary of State, the period for parliamentary scrutiny ends on 6 May. If we are to find ourselves debating the resolutions after 6 May, would that process have any validity at all?

Yes, my Lords, because it is the Secretary of State himself who set that period. I would be under a great deal of criticism if, because the date that the noble Lord referred to was set, and because of the election period, we actually lost a number of weeks and arrangements were not made to ensure that Parliament was given the appropriate time. As I said, this is a matter for the usual channels. What is clear, as the Leader of the House has already indicated, is that if a Motion or Motions are tabled, she will ensure that time is found. None of us here can say when the time would be found. All I am saying is that if time is not found before we reach the wash-up period, it will be found after the election. I would have thought that that would reassure noble Lords.

I find this rather extraordinary. I have come here to make a statement of reassurance to the Committee in the light of points raised. I am extraordinarily surprised to find that I am now being criticised for saying that if there is not time before the election, the debate will take place after the election. If the Committee is criticising that, I am flabbergasted.

I am sure that it would help my noble friend and the Committee if the noble Lord could assure us that the usual channels have discussed this matter, so that if there were a change of Government, an incoming Government would in effect share the commitment that he is properly outlining.

I do not think that I can speak on behalf of the noble Lord’s party if it were to form a Government after the election; I am clearly speaking for this Government. That is as far as I can go. I am saying that we expect Parliament to have every opportunity to scrutinise the national policy statements. It has been made clear that if, through the tabling of a Motion, noble Lords indicate that they want a debate in the Chamber of the House, the Government will do everything that they can to facilitate that. None of us knows when the election will be called. Time may not be found by the usual channels. I remind noble Lords that this would be prime-time debate, because it will be government business. Therefore, none of us can say when the time would be found. All that I am doing is giving a reassurance that time will be found either before or after the election.

If the election intervenes, the scrutiny period will have to be extended. That is not a matter for the usual channels; that is a matter for the Secretary of State. That will have to be done by the present Secretary of State of this Government before the election.

With the greatest respect, the statement I am making shows that, by implication, the scrutiny period is being extended. I really do not think that this is a matter of concern. Clearly, debate in the main Chamber and in the Commons, if there is a similar debate there, must be part of the scrutiny process. My department cannot start to reach any conclusion on the consultation and scrutiny until those debates have been held. If it is not possible to hold a debate before the election, the debate will be held after the election, which will encompass a later period of scrutiny.

But that means, does it not, that the scrutiny period will have to be officially extended before the end of this Parliament?

Yes, but I do not see why that occasions any concern. Clearly, if the debate takes place after the election, the scrutiny period will by implication have been extended.

This has been a very helpful and interesting introduction. In fact, we have all got used to these debates and I wonder what we will do next week, because they are clearly proving to be so enjoyable.

Today we are looking at the four national policy statements that set out our policy for the rest of the energy nationally significant infrastructure projects. These cover fossil fuel generating stations, renewables, gas and oil supply infrastructure and electricity networks. However, some technologies are not covered. Although fossil fuel includes oil, we believe it unlikely that developers will propose new oil-fired power stations of more than 50 gigawatts, and therefore they are not addressed. The renewables NPS does not cover hydro-electric plants of 50 megawatts for the same reason. Nor does it cover tidal and wave technologies, which are not yet commercially viable. We will look to another NPS or revision to EN-3 when the technology for tidal and wave is sufficiently developed. Lastly, the gas and oil supply infrastructure NPS does not cover the pipelines for CO2 that will be needed for CCS. We are looking at the best way of approaching consents for these and will amend EN-4 or bring forward a separate one, if appropriate. In the mean time, the IPC will receive applications and act as a recommending body to the Secretary of State for the infrastructure not covered in the national policy statements.

Two weeks ago we discussed the need for all types of energy infrastructure. The lead scenario indicates that by 2020 we will need around 100 gigawatts of electricity generation capacity. Present capacity will need to be replaced as coal and gas-fired power stations close and nuclear plants reach the end of their lives. To meet carbon reduction targets, we are aiming for around 30 per cent electricity generation from renewable sources, mostly wind, by 2020. But because wind is intermittent, as a number of noble Lords have pointed out on a number of occasions in our debates, we need a mix of electricity generation to give us security of supply. There is also an urgent need for other energy infrastructure, including power lines, gas and oil pipelines and gas storage facilities.

The need for energy infrastructure is national, but we do not believe that we should specify locations at a regional or local level. Further, to identify nationally all possible sites for all types of infrastructure and assess them for suitability would be a very long, complex and expensive task. And it would not necessarily give any benefits since ultimately it is up to developers to propose new projects.

The technology-specific NPSs do not repeat information that is already in the overarching NPS. This is not because the information is not important, but to spare readers from even more text to plough through. They do have a common structure, so that the same type of information is in the same relative place. But because they do not discuss general energy policy or the need for energy infrastructure set out in EN-1, there are only two parts. The first briefly sets out the purpose of the NPS, and explains what technology is covered, how it relates to the overarching NPS and its geographical coverage. The second part sets out any specific government policy for the technology described, any factors affecting decisions on location, climate change adaptation, good design, impacts that are specific to the type of infrastructure and additional information on generic impacts.

We are grateful for the contributions we have received from statutory bodies during the drafting of the NPSs. We recognise the importance of protecting our historic environment. English Heritage in particular has made very helpful comments on the need for NPSs to be consistent with the current Planning Policy Statement for the Historic Environment. But the PPS is itself being revised, and of course when it is finalised, we will look at the text and ensure that as far as possible the NPS is in agreement with it. We welcome the offer of support from English Heritage, but owing to the size of energy infrastructure, I cannot give a categorical assurance that the NPS will mimic the PPS word for word I shall now describe each NPS in turn, rather than address all four together.

EN-2 covers fossil fuel generating infrastructure that is fired by coal, gas or oil. In setting out government policy for fossil fuels, EN-2 explains that developers should have sufficient space available for carbon capture readiness, which will apply to all fossil fuel power plants and to biomass. There are specific requirements that developers must meet to be CCR. EN-2 gives an overview of the requirements and refers applicants and the IPC to Department of Energy and Climate Change guidelines published in November last year for more detailed information. The IPC is instructed that if developers do not meet the requirements for CCR, consent should be refused.

However, CCR is only the first stage. New coal-fired power stations must have carbon capture and storage on at least 300 megawatt net electricity generating capacity. Power stations with less than 300 megawatt net total capacity must have CCS on their whole capacity. Section 2.3 of EN-2 instructs applicants to show how they will meet CCS requirements and address impacts from CCS plant in an environmental impact assessment. The IPC should refuse consent if it is not satisfied that the requirements have been met. We expect it to discuss the technical feasibility of the proposals with the Environment Agency. Consent would also depend on conditions set out in EN-2, including a requirement that the whole plant will be CCR until CCS can be retrofitted.

Having set out factors that developers must consider when proposing a new fossil fuel power plant, EN-2 identifies six impacts on which more information must be given than in EN-1. For each of these impacts, the NPS sets out the features relevant to power stations, what can be done to avoid them and how the IPC should consider residual impacts.

The next NPS is on renewable energy infrastructure. Part 1 covers the same ground as the other energy NPSs. However, EN-3 covers a range of renewable energy technologies: biomass and waste, onshore wind of over 50 megawatts and offshore wind of over 100 megawatts. Because each renewable technology has its own locational factors and impacts, Part 2 of EN-3 has separate sections, beginning with biomass and energy from waste.

The section on offshore wind describes the consent regime that applies to wind farms in waters adjacent to Wales, for which the Welsh Government retain responsibility under devolution. There is concern that the operation of wind farms would have a significant impact on birds. EN-3 advises that applicants should consider modelling collision risks for certain species of bird, and that the IPC should be satisfied that such modelling has been done to a satisfactory standard. Onshore wind farms give rise to particular transport issues because they are frequently located on upland areas without major roads. Detailed consideration must be given to how the large components of a wind turbine—for example, blades that could be up to 50 metres long—get to a proposed site.

The oil and gas supply infrastructure NPS covers underground gas storage and liquefied natural gas facilities, and alterations to them; gas reception facilities; and gas and oil pipelines. The last section is divided into gas transporter pipelines—the strategic pipelines that form the backbone of the national transmission system—and cross-country pipelines longer than 10 miles. Part 1 of EN-4 sets out the consenting regime for pipelines that cross the border between England and Wales. The IPC gives consent for cross-country pipelines that cross from England to Wales, and pipelines in England subject to the above thresholds. In describing the factors influencing site selection for gas and oil supply infrastructure, EN-4 sets out the limitations on where gas can be stored underground. These relate to geological factors such as the availability of porous rock, or storage in man-made salt caverns. Like EN-3, EN-4 covers a range of technologies and has sections on the impacts of each.

The last NPS that we are considering today is EN-5, which concerns above-ground electricity lines of 132 kilovolts and above. This covers both transmission lines that form the National Grid and distribution lines. EN-5 is unusual because the technology it covers is not only an NSIP in its own right, but is complementary to other national policy statements on generation, since any generating plant will need connection to the grid. It must therefore be considered by the IPC with other national policy statements when determining consent applications for energy infrastructure.

I have spoken at some length about the suite of national policy statements that we are considering this afternoon. The debates that are taking place in your Lordships’ House and in the other place will be extremely important in determining the outcome of the scrutiny and consultative process. The contributions of noble Lords are therefore very much valued, and I look forward to our debate this afternoon. I beg to move.

My Lords, I was away for most of February and it was not until I read the Official Report of Tuesday’s remarkable debate on nuclear generation that my attention was drawn to the documents that we are considering today. My appetite was initially whetted by a statement by the noble Baroness, Lady Young of Old Scone, about the Severn barrage. She said that she was looking forward to debating it at length today. In due course and at the right moment I will be standing shoulder to shoulder on that issue, but as the Minister has already pointed out, it is not a subject covered by the statements we are considering and therefore is not on today’s agenda.

In passing, I will say one thing about wind turbine generation. As one who is increasingly concerned about the impact of wind farms on some of our most beautiful countryside—a large part of it is in Wales—I am relieved that the emphasis is now switching to offshore wind farms. There is clearly much merit in locating such farms offshore. I have doubts about the scale of the contribution that they can make to our energy policy and about the economic costs, but it is entirely appropriate that they should increasingly be sited offshore.

My remarks today will concentrate on LNG import facilities, and in particular on paragraph 2.5.1 of the EN-4 document, which I shall read in full. The paragraph states:

“Gas storage and supply infrastructure sites are subject to stringent safety standards under the Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) Regulations 1999. The COMAH regulations apply to underground gas storage facilities, LNG import facilities and gas reception facilities. All these categories of infrastructure qualify as top tier COMAH sites (those carrying more than 200 tonnes of gas). The COMAH regulations are enforced throughout the life cycle of the facility, i.e. from the design and build stage through to decommissioning. The COMAH regulations are enforced jointly by the competent authority: the HSE and the Environment Agency (EA) in England and Wales (and by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency)”.

In its present form this is an extraordinarily misleading and partial description of the arrangements that exist to deal with one of the most critical issues that has to be considered when applications are made for new LNG terminals. It is so seriously misleading that I am at a loss to understand how it can have been included in its present form in the statement. The COMAH regulations and the roles of the HSE and the Environment Agency—unless there has been a change since 2006 that I have not observed, and if there has been it should have been referred to in the statement—apply only to onshore facilities. The position was set out in great detail to me in a letter that I received on 12 May 2005 from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. I will return to the subject in some detail.

Initially, when considering the first application in Milford Haven, the HSE gave detailed consideration to the risks arising from damage to tankers alongside the jetty, but it then sought advice from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister about whether it was a statutory consultee in the planning (hazardous substances) consent, and it was advised that that was not its role.

The responsibility for the safety of ships lies with the port authority. I quote from an Answer that I received to a Parliamentary Question in June 2005 from the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Oldham, who said that LNG tankers are designed and constructed to meet the standards that are established by the International Maritime Organisation. He said:

“The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), an executive agency of the Department for Transport, surveys tankers registered in the United Kingdom and inspects foreign-registered tankers visiting UK ports. Parallel survey and inspection arrangements are in place across Europe. The safety of tanker movements within port areas is a matter for statutory harbour authorities”.—[Official Report, 15/6/10; col. WA 134.]

The situation was complicated further when applications were being considered in Milford Haven, because the planning authority was the national park authority, which had looked for technical advice both to the HSE and to the Milford Haven Port Authority. This was at a time when all planners were under considerable pressure from the DTI to get on with dealing with what it regarded as very important for what it described in a series of interesting e-mails, which I have in my possession, as UK plc.

I will refer in some detail to what happened with the two planning applications for terminals in Milford Haven, but not because I want to reopen my quarrel with the port authority about how it handled the matter. The issues have been decided and the two facilities are operational. I will say only that I hope and pray that the fears that I expressed are unfounded—the same fears were expressed very powerfully by a number of local people: indeed, cases were taken to the courts to see whether the whole issue could be dealt with by judicial review—and that no accident occurs. If it did, it would have devastating consequences for my former constituency, and equally devastating consequences for the Government’s energy policy and for the supply of gas to those who consume it. However, I propose to say a good deal about what happened to illustrate my concerns and why there should have been better coverage of the issues at stake in the document that we are considering.

My own direct involvement in the matter began in March 2005, when, during a visit to my former constituency, I was briefed on the concerns in Milford Haven. I then undertook my own research. I tabled Written Questions in the House of Lords and entered into correspondence on LNG shipping safety in Milford Haven with various parties, including the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, the Secretary of State for Transport, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, the Health and Safety Executive and Mr Ted Sangster, the chief executive of Milford Haven Port Authority, with whom I had a meeting. My concerns about LNG safety grew as I received answers from all these bodies, and I set out my fears in a speech in a House of Lords energy debate on 27 October 2005. In the course of that speech, I called for a fundamental review of the planning arrangements for LNG facilities. My exchanges and involvement continued right on into 2006.

There are those who argue that the risks arising from the operation of LNG ships are very low, because the record has been very good. However, it is quite clear, if you examine the HSE’s very detailed assessments at the time of the first application, that it does not share this view. It prepared remarkably thorough evaluations and concluded that a plume of gas, which would be heavier than air and would therefore sink to the water level, could spread rapidly in the event of an accident and was capable of engulfing the densely populated developments in the vicinity of the jetty.

Perhaps even more significant are the views expressed by the gas tanker and terminal operators themselves. They have an organisation, SIGTTO, which represents them, and which has set out the issues in great detail. It says:

“Gas tanker and terminal operations carry a range of operational risks arising from transport, storage and transfer of liquefied natural gas and petroleum gases. These risks are unique to liquefied gas operations and require specific measures to manage them within tolerable limits”.

SIGTTO’s paper,

“expounds a doctrine of protective location for gas terminals, arguing for the elimination of major risk elements by locating gas operations in places where they will not be exposed to uncontrolled threats from outside their own operating environments. Under this doctrine operational risks are removed from the operational milieu of gas shipping (by informed selection of locations). Such risks as then remain are assessed and afterwards addressed by the implementation of procedures derived specifically from the risk assessments. Hence gas shipping operations are to be managed within tolerable limits”.

I have no criticism of the HSE’s handling of its responsibilities for the onshore facilities. Some would argue that, rather than placing tanks in a bund on top of a bank from which the heavier-than-air gas could flow down and possibly on to a terminal, it is better to place them underground, a practice widely followed in Japan.

A strong case—this is relevant to the issue of where these things should be sited—can also be made for avoiding risks in populated areas by using single-point moorings and regasification and delivery at sea, well away from centres of population, with the added advantage that the terminals can be sited much closer to where the gas is to be consumed. In the case of Milford Haven, a massive gas pipeline had to be constructed across Wales, partly through a national park, to carry the gas to its eventual destinations in England.

I return to SIGTTO and the fact that its recommendations were not complied with in Milford Haven. SIGTTO set out in great detail the kind of quantitative risk assessment that it recommends. The Milford Haven Port Authority has made a number of assessments of various aspects of the operations in the port and it received an assessment from the developers of the terminal at Hook, but it never carried out a QRA of the type recommended by SIGTTO.

I shall take two aspects of SIGTTO’s detailed description of the kind of assessment that should be made:

“Quantitative risk assessments cover a probability model of the activity with a wide range of consequential models for determination of the risk picture … A QRA analysis should encompass the likelihood of other ships in the vicinity presenting a threat of intrusion to the LNG terminal as a result of operational misjudgement or mechanical failure. The analysis should entail an assessment of what is the worst feasible case, based on the displacement, speed and striking angle of an intruding ship. This should be established, in the first instance, BEFORE THE INITIAL SITE SELECTION IS MADE”—

again, a highly relevant point in the context of the document that we are considering. As I say, it sets out the case in much more detail.

The Milford Haven Conservancy Board said that it had not had a single report that came to any conclusion about whether it should allow LNG ships to use the port. It asserted that it operated an open-port policy, and argued that therefore it did not have the ability to say that LNG ships could not use the port if there was capacity—in other words, an available berth. As a former director of Associated British Ports, the country’s largest port operator, I treated that statement with incredulity, because I was absolutely satisfied that if the board thought that ships could be berthed only in unsafe conditions, it had every right to ensure that they did not enter the port.

SIGTTO says that,

“the safety record of this class of ship is exemplary. Nevertheless, this safety record notwithstanding, the risk profile of LNG tankers presents a very serious residual hazard in port areas if the vital structure of the tanker is penetrated … Ideally LNG marine terminals should be sited away from port fairways used by other ships … whatever the circumstances, no terminal should be sited on a bend in a shipping channel such that inevitably, the trajectories of transiting ships pass through the terminal as they negotiate the bend … whatever the prevailing circumstances, no terminal should be sited in a position that admits the possibility of its being approached by heavy displacement ships, having an inherent capability for penetrating the hull of an LNG tanker ... where such encounters are possible a protective barrier should be erected to shield the LNG terminal”.

Anyone who knows Milford Haven will know that the South Hook terminal fails to comply with those SIGTTO standards. It is sited very close to the fairway, it is a mile long and the fairway is used by other ships. It certainly admits the possibility of its being approached by heavy displacement ships. It is on a bend in the shipping channel, and the trajectories of ships leaving or passing the jetty pass through it. The site is such that an exclusion zone is not a practical possibility. I could elaborate on further criticisms of the siting of the Waterston jetty, but I made all the points in a previous speech in 2005 and will not repeat them today.

I will refer to one final recommendation from SIGTTO, which says:

“Managers of LNG operations will therefore”—

because people do not know much about LNG—

“have a greater need to reach out to port communities—port authorities, other users and service providers—to communicate the risks of their operations and explain the actions being taken to manage these risks, the defences provided and the protections required of others … Communication is pivotal to the entire risk management process for an LNG terminal”.

This was disastrously mishandled at Milford Haven. Surely it should be a central feature of the national policy statement that we are considering.

I will conclude by referring to a letter I received from Alistair Darling, the then Secretary of State for Transport, and to a parallel letter from the department’s executive agency, the MCA. He said:

“The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has responsibility for the Port Marine Safety Code (PMSC). However, this is a voluntary code and the MCA is not empowered to ensure compliance by ports with the code. Nonetheless, the MCA has very good working relations with Milford Haven Port Authority (MHPA) and has no cause for concern that the risks are not properly and proportionately controlled in the port.

“No specific correspondence has taken place between the MCA and MHPA with regard to LNG carriers operating in the port. The MCA would expect that any perceived increase in risk arising out of this activity would be addressed within the port safety management system and the necessary risk mitigating options put in place before the activity went ahead”.

I turn now to the final sentence from the letter of the chief executive of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency:

“We have no records of any risk assessments carried out in the development of the regulations that apply to LNG tankers and we are not aware of any safety issues that have arisen as a result of LNG tanker operations or technological developments. I hope that this is helpful”.

It was not exactly helpful because the question I was pressing was whether there was any supervisory regime if port operators failed in their duty to ensure safety. I wanted to see if government departments had a role in this, and it appears that they do not effectively have a role. In short, there seems to be no arrangement by which government can intervene if things are not done properly. All this may or may not be dealt with under the new arrangements we are debating today, yet they are not referred to at all in the document. It is the most extraordinary omission.

In his reply to the debate in October 2005, the noble Lord, Lord Sainsbury, the then Minister, said that these were important issues. He did not know anything about them and that therefore he would write to me. I never received a letter. Whether that was because the department was as ignorant then as it appears to be now by its omission of the necessary information or for any other reason, I do not know, but I did refer in that speech to the existence of a black hole. There is certainly, in my view, a black hole in the draft policy statement, and surely if people are to be satisfied that these facilities, which may be on their doorstep, are safe and secure, that black hole has got to be filled.

I agree with the Minister that most of us will not know what to do with ourselves next week, since we have been closeted on these statements for an extensive period of time. Indeed, the technology-specific NPSs we are considering today are a bit skeletal and, for the most part, comparatively unobjectionable because most of the issues of principle that we are concerned about are set out in the overarching NPS, EN-1. I do not propose to go through all the arguments I raised when we debated that policy statement, but many of them become relevant as we consider each of these NPSs in turn, not the least being how low-carbon generation fuel mix will be achieved and how greater energy efficiency will be dealt with in practice, and whether each of these statements should be putting greater weight on steering major development away from designated areas. Many of these issues were raised in the debate on the overarching NPS.

I turn to the technology-specific NPSs and shall deal first with the one covering fossil fuel electricity generation. It expounds the view that carbon capture readiness and carbon capture and storage are the answer to a maiden’s prayer as far as fossil fuel generation is concerned. It is interesting to note that carbon capture and storage is a bit like a religion rather than a technology. It is something we all want to believe in, but in our heart of hearts we are not convinced that it exists. The big question is, will it work on the large scale that will be required? We have to believe in it in the short term because there is very little else that would mitigate that element of carbon, and hope that, since the current price of carbon does nothing to promote a commercial approach to carbon capture and storage, the Government will continue to press for public investment in the pilots. That is the only way in which we can test whether it will work on a large scale.

I commend the fact that the electricity networks infrastructure NPS recognises the need to adapt to the impacts of climate change. We all remember how close to the edge we got when the major switching station in Gloucestershire was threatened by flooding in 2007, but a little known “factette” is the high proportion of electricity substations that are sited in the flood plain. Therefore, we need to ensure that those climate change threats are taken account of when creating new electricity networks infrastructure. I urge the Minister to go a step further than the planning statement. We need strategic planning for electricity networks to ensure that they avoid designated areas and minimise environmental impacts. There is a particular need for careful planning and clear guidance for the landfill of offshore cabling.

Perhaps we should ask the Minister to rename this NPS as it does not cover renewable energy infrastructure, but rather biomass and wind only. A number of renewable technologies fall into the category mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Crickhowell, of a black hole. But on the “renewables” NPS, I welcome the fact that there is a commitment—particularly as regards wind power—to take the marine policy statement into account. Noble Lords who recall the debates that we had on the Marine Bill will know that that has to be taken very seriously.

The NPS should require the IPC, when looking at proposals, to consider the sustainability of biomass feedstocks. I am not confident that the sustainability standards in the renewables obligation certificate process that the NPS suggests are robust enough. I apologise to the noble Lord, Lord Crickhowell, if I whetted his appetite prematurely as regards the Severn barrage, but I want to touch briefly on the elephant in the room as far as the renewables statement is concerned; that is, tidal and wave power. I was interested to hear the Minister say that they were not included because they are not yet commercially viable. That is interesting since carbon capture and storage is included though it is not yet commercially viable. There seems to be a small frisson of difference there.

Perhaps the noble Baroness will let me intervene. Surely the point here is that we have a full programme for the four scaled-up pilots with 300 megawatt net of electricity generation, whereas the wave or tidal generators are some way off meeting the threshold. I should have thought that is the difference.

I beg the Minister’s pardon. I accept the fact that there is a difference between the two programmes. However, a very large number of people are spending a very large amount of time beavering away on the tidal and wave issue. What will be the decision-making process around tidal and wave renewable energy? I appreciate that the Severn is in a slightly different place and that Ministers may want to keep that as a separate decision-making process reserved to the Government rather than giving it to the IPC. I would commend that in its current state. However, we are rapidly seeing coming up on the rails the Mersey, the Solway in Scotland—though that would not, of course, be covered by the IPC—and, less convincingly, small but grandiose ideas on the Wash. All these would be big enough to meet the IPC threshold. Will the Minister clarify what the process will be for bringing tidal and wave into the NPS suite? Who will make decisions, should propositions on some of these other estuaries come forward in the interim? Will the Government make a policy statement about tidal and wave and create another NPS?

My Lords, I will concentrate on the transport infrastructure, particularly during the construction phase of the many different types of energy creation that we are considering today. My comments apply generally across all the NPSs, but I refer in particular to paragraph 2.2.4 on EN-2, which refers back to EN-1. I am sorry that I could not participate in the debate on EN-1 when we considered it, but it applies to all generation and to the Severn barrage, about which the noble Baroness, Lady Young, has just spoken.

I declare an interest as chairman of the Rail Freight Group and as a harbour commissioner of the port of Fowey in Cornwall. My most recent experience of transport during the construction of any of these pieces of equipment or generation relates to Crossrail and the London Olympics, for which the transport of construction materials both in and out has mostly been by road. There could have been much more water and rail transport, and this mode of transport compares pretty unfavourably with the sustainability policies that are now all over the place in government policies. The Olympics could have saved 800,000 lorry journeys around the site in an area in which the air pollution, as I said in a recent debate, is already over the Government’s limits.

I hope my noble friend will take into account the fact that rail or water transport is probably at least 70 per cent more sustainable in CO2 terms than road transport. I also hope he will take into account the fact that people do not actually like heavy lorries trundling down unsuitable roads; this comes out in all the documents. I have been studying one of the projects that are being developed, the nuclear power stations at Oldbury and at Hinckley Point, and an opposition group has already started up whose main concern is lorries going through unsuitable sites. The NPSs should do a lot to strengthen this area.

The noble Baroness, Lady Young, quite rightly pointed out that all these stations and the switchgear need to be clear of flood plains. The Oldbury site could be on a flood plain if the River Severn floods, so the plan is to import about 10 million tonnes of field from somewhere to raise the whole site. I calculated that that would require roughly 500,000 lorry journeys over two years. The roads around there are quite awful and there is no railway within about 10 miles. You could build one, but what is the point when you are next to the river? One would hope that the contractors, the designers and the Government would go for sea transport, but I can see nothing in any of these documents that encourages or requires it.

There is an opportunity, so far missed, to put in these documents the need to have sustainable transport, because they do not go much further than the status quo, rather than set out future policies. I do not know whether I am right—perhaps my noble friend can help me—but it is almost as if the Government believe that the excellent plans here for sustainable energy generation will solve the whole carbon problem in this country. However, my noble friend will be very aware that transport is, I think, the only sector where carbon emissions are forecast to increase. This is not doing much to reduce it. The NPSs, in the parts that I shall come to, should include a presumption of sustainability as regards using water or rail transport during the construction phase. The proposals are not bad as regards some of the operation phases, but during the construction phase sustainability tends to be forgotten.

I turn to some of the specifics. I shall begin with EN-1 and return to EN-2. Ministers have said many times that the policies which will come from these draft statements will also be applied to smaller planning applications which come below the limit for NPS and IPC consideration. I hope that that will apply to anything that we are talking about today—in particular to some of the points that I have been making—but it would be good to have my noble friend’s confirmation.

Paragraph 4.28.8 of EN-1 states:

“Water-borne or rail transport is preferred over road transport, where cost-effective”.

I ask my noble friend how the IPC will calculate the cost-effectiveness, and whether it will take into account the carbon and other benefits—possibly in the way that the Department of Transport has used NATA methodology, which, for those who are not familiar with it, is a new approach to transport appraisals. It is important to know how the calculation will take place.

Paragraph 4.28.3 raises an important issue for when possible multi-user transport infrastructure projects are proposed. The Government will need to ensure that other users will be protected if the scheme does not proceed because it cannot obtain permission to go ahead.

As regards the mitigation measures provided in 4.28.6, it could be inferred that demand management of road traffic is a substitute for providing a bit of investment in rail or water facilities. I am sure that that will be how some developers will wriggle out of their commitments. It would be good if that provision were to be strengthened a little.

Paragraph 4.28.9 states:

“The IPC may attach conditions”.

It would be very nice if the IPC were to be required to attach conditions such as the use of rail or water, and set targets for the modal share. It is no good just doing it for the modal share of all material coming in or going out. The Olympics did extremely well on bringing in aggregate and other bulk construction materials by rail, and a bit by water, but they did not do so well when they were chucking polluted soil to Teesport by road when there is a rail terminal on the site and they have done appallingly badly with any other material. That compares with what BAA did regarding Terminal 5, where it organised its procurement properly. It made a great difference to the roads around Terminal 5 to have so much equipment coming in. I am talking about any kind of material that you can get on a train. I do not think you could get big offshore wind generator blades on a train; it is quite difficult to take them by road. There is an awful lot that you can transport that way if you try, though, and some targets for that would be important.

I turn to EN-2, which is where it all starts. I worry about paragraph 2.2.4, which talks about the transport infrastructure. I have a horrible feeling that the process put down here will be used by the developer as a way of wriggling out of any commitment to use water or rail.

Those were the main issues that I had with these policy statements on the transport infrastructure. The same comments apply to ports and to other similar areas that we have not spoken about, which I do not want to cover today. It is important that these policy statements—which I hope will last for many years, as there are many good things in them—should reflect the latest government policies on sustainability and particularly put requirements on deliveries, spoil removal from sites and so on during construction. That applies to maritime as well, because that area is just as important once the thing is up and running.

I heard a comment yesterday from a cement manufacturer who has changed the transport of his company’s cement from road to rail. I managed to work out the calculation while the man was talking. As noble Lords may know, for every tonne of cement manufactured you consume a tonne of carbon, which is quite a surprising amount of carbon. If you are moving it by rail rather than road, you remove about 25 per cent of that carbon.

I am sorry. I just want to understand, as the noble Lord is making some important points. I think that he meant emitting carbon dioxide, not consuming it.

I am so sorry, that is what I meant. Cement is a heavy user of carbon dioxide and thus a heavy polluter; we know no other way of making it. If you transport it by rail or water rather than road, though, you are saving about 25 per cent of the total carbon dioxide used. The transport for the construction phases of these very varied pieces of generating capacity is very important.

My Lords, I apologise at once to the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, for having intervened right at the end of his speech, but I have discovered that that can be helpful, otherwise one has to correct Hansard later.

Inevitably, this is going to be a bit of a disjointed debate—I do not quarrel with that. The Minister will not be surprised that I want to pick up on one or two of the things that he talked about, particularly CCR, which I shall come to shortly. I thought that my noble friend Lord Crickhowell performed an amazing dissection of what has happened to the gap between onshore and offshore with regard to these energy terminals; I think that the Minister will certainly want to answer that question.

Like the debate, my speech will be piecemeal. I make no apology for that: it is inevitable, given the nature of the debate. I will make my points in the order of the documents that we are discussing—EN-2, EN-3, EN-4 and EN-5.

The first thing that one notices about EN-2—the Minister explained the reason for this—is that most of the detail and explanation is in EN-1. It would have been inappropriate to go into detail in the debate on EN-1 on 23 February, because we were discussing the wider issues. Nevertheless, it is to EN-1 that one must turn for some of the details.

I turn first to the concept of carbon capture ready—CCR, as it has come to be known. Paragraph 4.7.6 of EN-1 refers to carbon capture and storage as an emerging technology. The noble Baroness, Lady Young of Old Scone, said that it was like a religion, not a technology. I hope that I can reassure her in the next few minutes. I was one of a few noble Lords who had the privilege of being invited to the BP research establishment at Sunbury. I must say that it is very impressive. We were given a substantial briefing on carbon capture and storage, in which BP is one of the prime investors. We were able to see some of the amazing technology for displaying this in what they call the HIVE, a technology which has huge screens, all computer-controlled. If any noble Lords are invited there, I strongly recommend that they accept.

It was a very interesting and revealing briefing that we received. Paragraph 4.7.6 of EN-1 states:

“Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is an emerging technology”.

That is not really true. It is a well established technology. I can do no better than to quote the noble Lord, Lord Oxburgh, who cannot be with us this afternoon—he apologises, but knows what I am going to say and approves. As president of the Carbon Capture and Storage Association, his foreword to its brochure is very interesting. He states:

“CCS is not an unproven technology”.

I will continue the quotation in a moment.

We were given a demonstration of some of the CCS plants that are in operation in many other parts of the world. The one that BP particularly wanted to show us—I found it fascinating—was in Algeria, called In Salah, where it has developed a large and very dispersed gas field, which supplies gas that is piped to the Mediterranean coast, and then across either to Spain or to Italy. From there it can be transported to southern Europe. BP has a fully operational CCS plant there, on a large scale. It extracts CO2 and stores it in the depleted gas fields that it has used. I realise that this is a special case: however, it is just one of a number around the world. That is why the CCSA is right. I will quote a little more from the noble Lord, Lord Oxburgh, when he said that,

“today, we need to step up to a new level. We must scale up the technologies from today’s limited number of small plants to widespread implementation around the globe”.

One of the things that became apparent from the presentation at Sunbury is that the purpose of the four demonstration plants—we do not know which plants they are yet, as there has been a huge delay in announcing them; we knew about the first competition about two years ago—is not to demonstrate the technical feasibility, which I think has been the impression and which might have tempted the noble Baroness, Lady Young of Old Scone, to regard it as a bit of fantasy, but to prove that the technology can be economic and effective in a European environment.

I absolutely accept that carbon is being stored at a number of operating sites. My comment that it is a religion rather than a technology rests precisely on the fact that the pilots are there to test. The question is whether they can be scaled up to deal with carbon capture and storage at operating power-generation units on a comprehensive scale countrywide, irrespective of the location of those generation units. The pilots are still aimed at testing that proposition, and, as such, I rest my case that that proposition has not yet been proved.

I take the noble Baroness’s point, and she is quite right to correct me to that extent. Of course this must be shown to be practical in European conditions. I refer to these as demonstration projects rather than pilot projects. There have been small pilot plants, including one in Germany that has been in operation for more than a year, but I am talking about demonstration plants. Four—not up to four—demonstration plants will now be announced, with financial support from the electricity consumer through the CCS levy in the Energy Bill. We shall no doubt debate this. It will be subsidised not by the Government but by the electricity consumer.

We usually use just three letters—CCS—for carbon capture and storage. It has always struck me that there ought to be an additional letter: the letter T, for transportation.

The noble Lord is absolutely right. Originally, it was CSS—carbon sequestration and storage—but “sequestration” was thought to be too long a word, so it became “capture”. If I am wrong, no doubt the Minister will correct me.

The noble Lord is quite right. Only about four months ago, the UK and Norway jointly hosted carbon sequestration fora for a group of countries that were interested in CCS. CSS is used internationally rather more than CCS. However, whether the term is “carbon sequestration” or “carbon capture”, it clearly embraces transportation.

I am grateful for that. There is some confusion, and I am happy to regard myself as confused, but the noble Lord has explained the matter.

I am sorry to add to the interruptions, but will the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin, tell us why BP and Shell abandoned both their large CCS projects? The BP project in Scotland was abandoned, I think, a year and a half ago. Perhaps the noble Lord will talk to the noble Lord, Lord Oxburgh, about that and understand why it was abandoned.

I have talked to the BP people about the project at Peterhead. The storage was to be in the depleted Miller oilfield, which was very conveniently placed. BP felt that it had to abandon the project in the end because it had asked for government support either for what will now be available for the demonstration projects or for the carbon price so that it would know what the carbon advantage of a fully economic CCS plant would be. They did not get either of those things from the Government. I am on record in Hansard as having described that on the Floor of the House to the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, as an absolutely disastrous decision by the Government.

My noble friend is talking with great learning, but we have here the statement of Professor Stewart Hazseldine, professor of carbon capture and storage and geology at the University of Edinburgh, telling us that carbon capture technology is expensive to deploy, with studies suggesting that it will cost up to £500 million for a single installation at this early stage. My noble friend cited our colleague, the noble Lord, Lord Oxburgh, who is extremely learned on these things. His first and overriding point is that those costs must apply not just to our national carbon capture and storage arrangements but internationally, on a global scale. Otherwise, they will be useless.

My noble friend knows a great deal more about these things than I do and, like our noble friend Lady Thatcher, he comes armed with a piece of paper in his handbag. In response to my noble friend, that is the purpose of the demonstration projects. Is the figure put forward by the professor right or not? That is what it is all about. It is not to prove the technology as such, because that exists. Sequestration is perfectly clear. It is to prove whether it can be economic in European conditions.

On the same point, in paragraph 4.7.1, it is made clear that the IPC, before it can consider and approve a proposed development, must be reassured that it is CCR—carbon capture ready. Among those requirements, it must prove the economic feasibility of the whole process: the carbon capture, transport and storage. What does the noble Lord mean by the economic feasibility, bearing in mind that under certain circumstances, BP thought that it was not feasible. How can economic feasibility be demonstrated before the Government of the day have set out the appropriate regulatory and financial framework? How can anyone demonstrate the economic feasibility—which I take to mean profitability—if the Government of the day will not even consider the framework of regulation until after 2018?

The noble Lord makes an extremely good point. I am happy to suggest that the Minister might like to include an answer to that in his reply. It is not for me to answer that. I have one question for the Minister before I come back to CCR. The question arises because it is clear from our information that a great deal of attention was paid to storage. That is an essential part of the whole process. In many parts of the world—there are already examples of this—the storage is going into what are called deep saline aquifers. The maps showing the availability of such geological formations around the world show them to be onshore. The vast majority of those that will be available will be onshore.

My question arises from paragraph 4.7.1 of EN2, which states that applicants will need to demonstrate,

“that a suitable area of deep geological storage offshore exists for the storage of captured CO2 from the proposed combustion station”.

Why? Why does that have to be offshore? If the deep saline aquifers are appropriate for the storage of imported gas, as the noble Lord made clear in his opening speech, why are they not equally appropriate for the storage of CO2? I simply do not understand. Paragraph 4.7.8 of EN-2 states:

“The captured CO2 is compressed, transported, then stored securely and permanently as dense phase CO2 in deep geological formations. The Government has made its view clear that at present only storage projects offshore are to be considered”.

I ask: why only offshore? How long is “at present”? When will people using this technology be allowed to consider onshore storage, which may be very much nearer to where the plant is used, rather than piping it all to the coast and offshore? Perhaps the Minister may answer that question.

I want to help the noble Lord avoid too many Hansard corrections. I think that he was referring to EN-1 in his previous two references. He said EN-2.

I am, in my turn, happy to be corrected by the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley.

Perhaps I may conclude on the question of deep saline aquifers. I have a document prepared by BP which we were given at Sunbury, together with a piece of rock. The document is entitled, Could this piece of rock hold an answer to climate change? It states at one point that,

“since deep saline formations contain most of the global geologic storage capacity for CO2, they are likely to become the most widely used type of geologic storage site in the long-term”.

How long is “at present”? When will we be able to look at the long term?

This brings me to CCR—carbon capture readiness. It is clear that if you are to be carbon capture ready it is not sufficient to be able to demonstrate that you can add the sequestration plant—the separation plant—you must also have the transport, the pipelines and a place to store the carbon. The impression has been given that somehow you can put up a coal-burning or gas-burning plant and have somewhere on it a plate that you can unbolt and then just bolt on a carbon capture plant. It is not like that at all. Indeed, EN-1 makes it perfectly clear that there needs to be the “technical feasibility of transporting” and suitable storage. It is important that those who are contemplating this—and, perhaps more importantly, the public, who being given an impression about this—should realise that it involves more than just a CO2 separation plant.

How realistic is it in those circumstances to talk of a plant being CCR? How will the IPC be able to make a judgment when someone is applying to put up a coal-burning power station and is claiming that it is CCR? Does he have to demonstrate that he can put in all the pipelines and that he knows where all the carbon is to be stored? That is saying that it is virtually CCS. Indeed, there was more than a suggestion at the Sunbury briefing that CCR is an unreal concept. Perhaps the Minister will comment on that.

I turn to EN-3 on renewables. I start by referring to something with which I think noble Lords will be very familiar—wind power is intermittent. However, until I saw a brief from the Chemical Industries Association, I did not realise just what the impact of that had been this winter. The document states:

“Data from January/February 2010 confirms the UK’s over-reliance on gas and coal and the ineffectiveness of wind. On 7th January, one of the days when a Gas Balancing Alert was issued wind supplied only 0.1% of total grid delivery, (just 5% of wind’s potential contribution) this fell to 0.0% on 17th February”.

The document continues:

“We managed in winter 2010 because there was a 15% reduction in demand for energy from industry due to the recession”.

We have all said that. We have all known that you get these prolonged periods over much of the country with no wind at all. It is interesting to recognise how the grid has begun to change its attitude to this. There was a time—probably less than a year ago—when the grid spokesmen were perfectly cheerfully saying that they could cope with as much wind as the industry could produce. Of course, at present in this country it is a very low level. However, the reports produced in north Germany, in Schleswig-Holstein and Nordrhein-Westphalia—they are now three or four years old—reveal that the Germans discovered that if wind gets above about 17 or 18 per cent of the supply to the grid, the grid becomes unstable and unmanageable. That is because wind can increase and decrease in very short order. I remember questioning the relevant person about that. It is interesting to note that in the past few months the National Grid spokesmen have begun to lay much more emphasis on the need for back-up generation. That, of course, adds very substantially to the cost of wind power because it may stand unused for long periods, yet the investment has to be made.

The Government hold out the prospect of huge new investment in offshore wind. My noble friend Lord Crickhowell said that he had doubts about the practicality and economics of that. However, the Prime Minister has boasted that there will be £75 billion of investment in offshore wind. I cannot find anybody in the industry who regards that as remotely practical. Indeed, it is simply not going to happen. If it did happen, what would be the impact on the electricity customer? I attended a briefing last month given by Ofgem. I realise that that is not necessarily the Minister’s favourite body, but it is producing the figures. It shows that the cost to the customer now—

I should say that, of course, I am a great admirer of Ofgem and its work. I was merely pointing out at the previous meeting that its role is as a regulator. It is not for Ofgem to make policy, as I think it perhaps attempted to do.

I am dealing with its regulatory function. I accept the point that the Minister has made and I have discussed it with Mr Buchanan. It has estimated the average cost impact per household customer—this applies to gas and electricity—of the main environmental schemes in 2008, 2015 and 2020. There is quite a list of them because it includes the cost of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, the renewables obligations, the feed-in tariffs—they are not yet available—and the renewable heat incentive, which is not yet available. But you have the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target scheme. You will have the CCS levy and you will have smart meters.

I shall repeat a figure that I have quoted in speeches on the Floor of the House, basing my calculations on Ofgem. In 2008 the addition was £79 a year to average household gas and electricity bills. By 2015, it is estimated that the annual addition will be somewhere between £153 and £205 per annum, and by 2020 it will be between £294 and £426 per annum. I simply do not believe that any government could remotely tolerate that sort of addition to electricity bills and its extremely difficult impact on the vast majority of households, quite apart from its impact on industrial competitiveness.

When one looks at the renewables obligation as a part of that, the cost of offshore wind goes up from £10 in 2008 to between £70 and £80 in 2020, a seven or eight-fold increase. That is why I say that it is simply impractical to think that someone is going to spend £75 billion on offshore wind, with all the huge costs that involves, while of course being subsidised by the renewables obligation certificates in order to be able to afford it. When one considers that offshore wind costs seven or eight times as much as a gas-fired power station and probably several times the cost of nuclear, it becomes quite unreal. What is the Minister’s estimate of the additional costs of these environmental schemes, and particularly of the ROCs, if they are going to secure all that additional wind power?

I want to say a few words about gas storage as detailed in EN-4. It is now recognised that we need much more to ensure security in the supply of gas in case of an interruption in that supply, although hopefully not the kind of disaster that my noble friend Lord Crickhowell suggested might possibly happen in some of the terminals. Past planning applications have led to huge delays because of an enormous amount of misunderstanding of what they were all about. When I was Minister for Energy I had to face the problem of the proposal to build an underground gas storage facility at a place called Hirwaun in south Wales. The local population were quite convinced, of course, that it was going to get an underground bomb. We took the local people up to the north-east in coaches where there are such facilities for the storage of gas underground, but I have to tell noble Lords that it made not a blind bit of difference. I do not know what happened to the Hirwaun application because after that we lost the election and I ceased to be the Minister for Energy.

It is quite right that these proposals should go to the IPC, and it is hoped that they will be able to deal with these things more speedily. But this is only about onshore gas storage; that is made clear in paragraph 2.6.1, which I do not need to read out. DECC remains responsible for offshore storage, as set out in paragraph 1.4.5, which again I do not need to quote. The IPC process is subject to tight timetables, so can the Minister tell us what the timetable is for settling applications for offshore gas storage?

Finally and more briefly, I hope, I should like to say a few words about networks. DECC has received very comprehensive responses to its consultation from a number of bodies, including one from the Energy Networks Association, which contains a lot of useful points. I want to raise two of those with the Minister. The IPC process applies to above-ground lines of 132 kilovolts and above and, as he explained at the beginning of the debate, other networks associated with a nationally significant infrastructure project. All others remain subject to the normal town and country planning process. It is very important that there should be consistency between the two planning systems so that there will not be differences between the IPC on the one hand and the local authorities and DECC on the other. One asks, therefore, whether the national planning statement should be a relevant planning consideration for all above-ground lines and other infrastructure, including things such as transformer stations. Perhaps the Minister would like to comment.

My last point arises out of last year’s report from a body called the Electricity Network Strategy Group about Great Britain transmission strategic investment. I suspect that the public know little about ENSG. It calls itself a,

“high level forum bringing together key stakeholders in electricity networks to support government in meeting the long-term energy challenges of tackling climate change and ensuring secure, clean and affordable energy.

“The Group is jointly chaired by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem). Its aim is to identify and co-ordinate work to help address key strategic issues”.

One could go on, but I will not. In an appendix to its report, it has produced what one might call an order of priorities for network investment. It is in several different categories, including least regret, which are clearly the ones that should come first—there is a whole list of them—and low regret, which are projects to commence design and consenting, and a number of others; and then there are a few strategic investments but with no immediate work required.

One purpose of the ENSG exercise was to establish those priorities. The question, therefore, is: what is the relationship of that report to what is being referred to the IPC under this planning procedure? As I understood it, the IPC has always to deal with each application that comes before it separately. The ENSG aims to prioritise projects. I would be very grateful if the Minister could explain how the two processes will interact.

I have asked rather a lot of questions, and I look forward to the answers.

My Lords, last weekend, I attended a conference of wind farm protesters in the north of England. It brought together people from all over the country at their own expense, most of them necessarily of retirement age, with no axe to grind other than a desperate wish to stop the steady march of wind turbines across England and to protect their homes, the landscapes that they love and, in many cases, look after for others to enjoy.

It is a vastly unequal struggle. On the one hand are the developers, some the major energy companies of the world, some fly-by-night opportunists, all of them enabled by the subsidy handed to them by the consumer, courtesy of the Government, to sell all the electricity that they can produce at more than twice the market rate, and therefore to offer huge, irresistible sums to selected landowners, sweeteners to local interests. They are rich enough to appeal against every decision that goes against them, employing QCs and solicitors by the dozen. On the other hand are the affected local residents, and all others who value the treasured landscapes of this country, who struggle to raise the funds to find the most junior legal or even lay representation, and who can hardly afford to appeal against any decision that goes against them.

It is truly a battle of David against Goliath, but still the inspectors, magnificently independent, manage to find against the developers in a high proportion of public inquiry cases. I know of seven appeals by wind farm developers against local authority planning decisions which have been rejected by the inspectors within the past six weeks alone. In these cases, damage to the landscape, particularly within the setting of an AONB or national park when that is the case, figures prominently, but not exclusively, among the reasons for rejection. Increasingly, seemingly, the adverse effects of the development on local residents seem to sway the minds of the inspectors, and the number of residents affected can be extremely small—five, in one case in the north of England, and in the most recent case the effect on one farming family alone, whose life was judged by the inspector to be likely to be made intolerable if the development went ahead, was considered enough for him to dismiss the developer’s appeal. The nearest turbine in that case was 650 metres away.

It might be asked at this point: what has that got to do with the IPC? But why should the IPC not be likely to show as much humanity as planning inspectors when asked to make the same sort of judgments?

The Government gambled that by applying inordinate pressure on local authorities and the planning inspectors to force on them the responsibility for achieving the Government’s renewable energy targets, they would browbeat and overwhelm local opposition. In fact, they are not succeeding. Local opposition is becoming more informed and more organised. The developers’ proposals, meanwhile, encouraged by the Government’s own overbearing approach, have become ever more outrageous. The number and height of the turbines grow prodigiously all the time; in my area there is currently an application for no fewer than 20 turbines, each up to 110 metres high and situated six miles within an area of outstanding natural beauty. That comes up for decision next week in front of the local planning authority.

The inspectors seem to have become more sensitive to the damage that these monstrous industrial structures can do to the landscape and to individual lives. Unlike my noble friend Lord Crickhowell, I am afraid that I see no evidence that the Government are abandoning or even downgrading their pursuit of onshore wind turbines. No one would be more delighted than me if the Minister was able to indicate that I was wrong and my noble friend was right. He seemed to nod for a moment when my noble friend was speaking, and if he is able to give that assurance—

I was nodding because I accepted the noble Lord’s point about the importance of offshore wind, but my nodding by no means indicated that I thought that we should not see developments in onshore wind. I think we should see large developments in that area.

Well, I have been disappointed even more quickly than I had hoped. The Government should follow the example of the rule now adopted in Scotland, the so-called “Scottish national heritage standard”, and recommend that no wind turbine should be sited closer than two kilometres from any dwelling. That would result in the saving of a very great deal of effort and expense by preventing many of these developments in inappropriate places being put forward in the first instance. Notwithstanding what the Minister has just said, will the Government please consider that for adoption as instruction or advice both for local authorities and for the IPC?

The Government are doing their level best to ruin the landscape, one of this country’s most famous resources. Happily, they are running into heroic resistance. But now even the lowlands of England are threatened, since the latest turbines are so tall that they do not even need the support of a hill in order to catch the wind.

During our debate here on Tuesday, the hope was expressed by some that the people of Scotland might at the general election show their opposition to the SNP’s anti-nuclear policy by voting it out at the next election. They could also use it as a chance to express their opposition to the SNP’s renewable energy policy.

It is a tragedy how the Scottish Government have encouraged the disfigurement of that incomparably beautiful part of the United Kingdom with gigantic wind farms and grid lines such as the Inverness to Glasgow line, the so-called Beauly-Denny line, which was finally approved recently after six years of opposition and will run down through the heart of Scotland. It is an additional disadvantage of wind farms that, sited as they are on hilltops in scenic areas far from where the electricity they generate is required, they need hundreds of miles of new or strengthened transmission lines, which have to have the capacity to carry a full load of wind power even though they will very rarely be required to do so.

I wish the NPS on the grid, EN-5, had something more to say on the subject of need, as the nuclear NPS does, although I took the noble Lord’s point that EN-1 covered that and that he did not want to duplicate what has been said. But did not EN-1 say much about the amount of transmission lines that would be required to meet the Government’s energy targets? Can the Minister throw more light on that, both in terms of the cost of this extra grid and in terms of extra mileage? How much would be due to wind and how much to nuclear? Perhaps the Minister will at least give us an estimate of the total expenditure required for the extension of the grid.

While on the subject of EN-5, I should like for a moment to refer to what is described as “undergrounding” —which is a new verb to me. Paragraph 2.7.7 on page 11 states:

“The IPC should take into account that the cost of undergrounding electricity cables is between ten and twenty times as much per unit length as for an overhead line, depending on whether the line is buried directly in open agricultural land and the higher figure where more complex tunnelling and civil engineering through conurbations and major cities is required”.

Obviously here the Government want to discourage the IPC from requiring cables to be laid underground, but how much better it would have been if the Government had spent a small fraction of the money they have wasted on wind power on ensuring that the small number of additional transmission lines that we actually need for our energy security had been laid underground, as well as undertaking a programme of putting underground existing lines that are particularly offensive in the landscape in which they are set. The Government could easily have been advised by some existing quango on where the priorities lay. Let us not ignore the fact that a large amount of cabling is laid underground through urban and suburban areas.

I would have liked EN-4 to have said something more on the need for gas storage. What are the Government aiming for? Do they have any target in this area, or are targets for renewables only? Do they want to bring the amount of gas storage in this country up to the European average, when expressed as a percentage of the annual consumption, which I believe is about 13 per cent, as opposed to our current 4 per cent? As gas plays an ever-increasing role in our energy mix, with an ever-increasing percentage of that being imported, it is important to know what is in the Government’s mind.

EN-2 deals with carbon capture and storage, of which we have heard much this afternoon and will hear more in the House on 23 March when we debate the Second Reading of the Energy Bill. It is an unproven technology, at least on the scale and in the form required. Even the Government do not expect it to be commercially available for 10 years. Meanwhile, to fund its research, £9.5 billion over 10 years is to be added to electricity consumers’ bills. Coal has to stay in the ground while we import more gas. Another way has been found to sacrifice energy security on the green altar.

All the NPSs contain the obligatory section on climate change. EN-2 states that as fossil fuel generating stations are likely to be proposed for coastal or estuary sites—presumably due to the need for cooling water—applicants for development permission should show how their proposal would be resilient to both storm surges and,

“increased risk of drought leading to a lack of available cooling water”.

How is the poor IPC to deal with that? At one moment there will be too much water, at the next it will all have disappeared. For its own sanity, I hope that the IPC will not believe a word of it.

I come back to the subject of renewables. EN-3 deals with biomass as well as wind. I have a question relating to the importation of biomass material. The principal official justification for using biomass is that it saves on carbon emissions because the fuel used is immediately replaced with some new planted crop or forest. Is there a measure to ensure that that is the case with imported biomass and that the replanting takes place? If a power station is to be fed with shipload after shipload of timber crossing the Atlantic from Canada, and with lorry load after lorry load from the port to the power station, are the emissions produced by these journeys brought into the equation? If not, surely they should be? Perhaps the IPC could usefully assess this when considering applications.

I conclude by returning to the subject with which I began: wind power. The damage that wind power has been allowed to do to the world-famous landscape of this country is truly a national scandal, but the damage done by the Government’s absurd infatuation with wind power goes far wider than simply destroying the landscape. Here I take up the points made by my noble friend Lord Jenkin. It has been calculated that the United Kingdom would need to invest only some £30 billion to £40 billion—enough in all conscience—in new power generation to secure future energy supplies, were it not for the Government’s targets that result in that figure leaping to some £200 billion because of the supposed need for wind-generated power, which is achievable only with enormous subsidy and entirely fitfully, as my noble friend Lord Jenkin has demonstrated.

As I began to write this speech on Tuesday at around 10 pm, I checked on that useful website that tells us at any given moment the contribution to the grid of energy from different generating sources. The contribution from wind at that moment was given as 10 megawatts, or 0 per cent. The figure for the past 24 hours at that point was also given as 0 per cent. I have checked it several times since, and it never rose above 0.2 per cent until 8.30 this morning when the figure was 0.6 per cent, dragging the 24-hour contribution up to 0.2 per cent. Apart from illustrating the variability of the wind’s contribution to which all other sources of energy must adapt—easy enough at this low output, but incomparably harder if the targets for wind that are entertained by the Government were ever to be reached, as my noble friend Lord Jenkin explained—these figures hardly encourage us to believe that the Government will achieve 25 per cent of electricity from wind power by 2020.

The pursuit of the Government’s fanciful wind power targets threaten to cripple the consumer and the country. I draw noble Lords’ attention to the fact that the extension of the ROC subsidy system, which the Government introduced, has to come into effect by 1 April, and that the implementing order is due to be debated and passed by the Grand Committee in this House next Monday. Perhaps noble Lords will find that they have something to do next week. The total cost estimate for the consumer that is attached to that order for the years up to 2030 amounts to the breathtaking sum of just short of £50 billion.

It is extraordinary that the Government seem to operate in such a way that one hand does not know what the other hand is doing. The figures that were published this week revealed a rather shocking decline in the January trade balance, and a similar decline in manufacturing output in January, but that is nothing like what we will see in the future as industry is driven offshore to escape the deliberate and constant ratcheting-up of electricity prices to meet unattainable renewable energy targets.

The Government are happy to boast that they have now attracted overseas turbine manufacturers to set up in the north-east, but what number of those jobs will be in the balance when weighed against the jobs that are lost throughout industry as a result of the rising cost of energy? Wind is surely blowing us on a journey to nowhere.

My Lords, on the face of it, the EN-3 document gives some comfort to those who feel that there is some danger that these applications will be steamrollered through by the IPC on the ground of national need. However, when dealing with onshore wind in particular, the paper begs the question. It seems to accept that the case for wind power on an enormous scale is proven, but it says nothing about the cost-effectiveness of wind. Paragraph 2.7.1 on page 56 says:

“Onshore wind farms are the most established, large-scale source of renewable energy in the UK. Onshore wind farms will continue to play an important role in meeting renewable energy targets”.

The fact is that they cannot possibly fulfil that role. We have a target of 20 per cent of power from wind by 2020. As my noble friend Lord Reay has just demonstrated, the current output from wind power is risibly low and shows no sign of rising. If we are going to meet the EU-imposed target, we will need to build up to 10,000 onshore and offshore wind farms by 2020. That means building 2.5 to three wind turbines every day, and each turbine is up to 600 feet high. There is not the remotest chance of achieving that target. The 2008 report from the then DTI confirmed as much.

The chief executive of the think tank Energywatch, referring to the target when it was 15 per cent, said:

“In my view, the UK 15 per cent, if that is confirmed, is absolutely unachievable in the timeframe”.

The target is now 20 per cent. Absolutely unachievable has turned into absolutely impossible.

The serious question of intermittency was rather skated over by the Minister in his opening remarks. I do not blame him: it was a short opening speech. I will not go into detail: the noble Lords, Lord Reay and Lord Jenkin, have dealt very well with the intermittency problem. I will add that because of intermittency, we need conventional coal, gas and oil-fired power stations covering for wind 100 per cent of the time. What one gets with wind is absolutely no reduction in emissions, while retaining the total cost of wind power. There is no advantage whatsoever.

The effectiveness of wind generation is 20 per cent of its rated capacity: that seems to be the average. That is like buying a car that is supposed to go at 100 miles per hour, but when one has bought it one finds that it only goes at 27 miles per hour. One would feel that one had been had.

The former chairman of Scottish Power, Sir Donald Miller, got it absolutely right when he said that,

“this massive concentration on wind must be about the worst energy investment yet devised either for its ineffectiveness or its cost/benefits for consumers”.

I fear that the EU has locked us into the wrong energy policy with wind. The policy is set by bureaucrats and is completely unworkable.

I was not aware that there was any EU policy in favour of wind. EU policies cover renewables; there is no EU policy on wind.

Whatever the EU policy is, we seem to have bought into it. The Government have chosen to use wind as a method of reaching the EU renewables target.

I will turn briefly to biomass, which was mentioned by my noble friend Lord Reay. When we debated EN-1, I asked the Minister what the state of play was with Drax and biomass. He said that he had had a meeting that morning with the chief executive of Drax. I can guess how the conversation went. I expect that she wanted more taxpayers’ money to make biomass plants viable.

Perhaps the Minister could be as frank in his answer and say whether the chief executive is going to get that money and whether Drax is going to build any biomass plants. I share the concerns of the noble Lord, Lord Reay, about whether biomass plants are so-called “renewable” or not; if they are shipping trees from Canada, it does not sound terribly good.

I shall end my brief contribution by asking about the IPC. Its chief executive, Mr John Saunders, appears to have had shareholdings in National Grid, National Power, Powergen, Innogy and Northern Ireland Electricity. There was some difficulty in getting this information out of the IPC originally, but it is now on its website. These are apparently small shareholdings in companies, but it does not look very good for the chief executive of the IPC; some of these companies already have applications in front of the IPC for power plants, and planning applications. What is the position on Mr Saunders’ investments? Has he sold them? Is he going to be required to sell them? Are they held in a blind trust? What has happened to them? I look forward to the Minister’s answer if he can give it to me, or perhaps he could write.

My Lords, I have the privilege of being the last Back-Bench speaker in what effectively has been a four-day marathon. I say in all sincerity that the Hansard records of these Committee debates and one general debate are going to be reference documents—I was going to say reference books—for a lot of people for a long time. I hope that I do not now make a mess of it so that they do not get to the end and say, “Oh God, he’s awful”.

I start with the documents themselves. I find it rather funny-peculiar that we have managed not to put anything in our sustainable energy document about either estuarial barrages, tidal or tidal stream. I know that the Minister has explained that, but if we can deal with all the complexities of offshore wind and bringing it ashore, and if we can deal with a host of nuclear power stations along the coast where one might hope that the bulk of the materials used in their construction, as mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, will be carried to them by water, largely meaning by the sea—it is not that difficult to construct a reasonably long jetty even if you have quite an area of marshes out front; certainly most of Bradwell’s materials arrived by sea when that was constructed—then I do not see what was so difficult about dealing with either the question of an estuarial barrage or indeed tidal stream.

I suspect that the real reason for their omission is what I call the “backs to the wall” effect that we have all felt. The Minister’s back is to the wall on this because we have time pressure; my back is to the wall because I feel that time pressure too. We have just got to the end of the drafting time and the thinking time.

I will respond later, but I want to make it clear with regard to wave and tidal that the reason, as I stated in my opening address, is that we are nowhere near getting an application that would go above the threshold that will fall to the IPC. We therefore do not think it necessary at this stage to produce a draft national policy statement. There is emerging evidence that some of the prototypes are now looking pretty promising, and I assure the Committee that we will consider preparing an NPS. If an application were to come forward, I would certainly hope that an NPS would then be ready.

My Lords, the Minister is making my case that when we finally approve these documents, we will need to sit down and start reviewing them pretty well straightaway. That is that; I could not resist.

I have to get involved to some degree on the question of carbon capture and storage. We have probably heard quite enough about that already today, but there are one or two things that we need to think about.

First, there is no question but that carbon capture and storage can work. The question we cannot answer for a considerable time is not what it costs but whether, when we have installed it, it will be economically competitive with all the other sources that may come on stream. I simply observe that the relative costs of all other sustainable energy sources seem to keep creeping down vis-à-vis current energy costs. I have seen only one cost suggested. That came from Australia. It postulated an 80 per cent electricity price rise to pay for carbon capture and storage. We may be able to do it for rather less than that here, because we already have a reasonable pipe infrastructure going into the North Sea, which might be used to take the CO2 to the gas fields. I note the reservations of my noble friend Lord Jenkin about the need for that, but we have it there, so the cost may be somewhat less. The issue is not the absolute cost but competitiveness. We do not know what will be competitive.

Having said that, I should say something about energy costs. I shall talk for a moment about red tractor diesel, which farmers use, which is a pure oil cost because there is no duty on it. When I started farming, I bought that oil for one shilling and thruppence and three-eighths of a penny. I hope that the Hansard reporters can keep up with that. It is about six and a half pence a gallon, new money, and between one and a quarter and one and a half pence a litre, for which I now pay in excess of 40 pence. Over my lifetime, the cost of my basic propulsion energy on the farm has risen by more than 3,000 per cent. If you had told me when I started farming that I would have to live with that, I would have thought, “Oh my God, never”. I would have been pretty close to blowing my brains out, I suppose.

I did a similar calculation on my electricity. I am sorry that I do not have the precise figures, but I can tell you that the electricity-generating industry has treated me much more favourably. The price increase there over the same period is a little over 1,000 per cent. We need to be cautious about costs. It is unlikely that the costs will suddenly rise by 80 per cent if we start using CCS in a major way. That might be what is needed to sustain that, but energy will come from many sources. I strongly suspect that many of the other renewable sources of energy will come in at a more competitive price.

The other point that we need to bear in mind is that we have to deal with the competitiveness of our economy in global terms. That will include energy costs. If other technologies are introduced, even if CCS is relatively easily available here, if it is not economically competitive, it will die. In the end, we are in a global market and whatever we do must be economically competitive. To introduce another “C” acronym, I have a shrewd suspicion that we may well find when we get to 2050 that the big supplier of energy by then will be CSP, which is nothing to do with carbon, but is concentrated solar power. That is another matter.

The other thing that really worries me about this whole exercise is that the documents almost exclusively consider the period from now to 2025. That is fine as far as it goes, but given the timescale for construction for all the major plants that we are talking about, they will have a lifetime that will take them up to and beyond 2050.

We are expecting to invest in construction and plant that has a lifetime of 40 years plus, but it is perfectly possible that economic competitors will cut away the markets before the plant is more than half way through its lifetime. That will lead to very difficult financial problems. It is something that the Government will have to face. I do not see an easy answer. We cannot defer the decisions because we have a short-term problem. Using natural gas is not an easy answer, because either it has to be shipped in expensively or we have to put pipelines across to Siberia or Kazakhstan. A little while ago, I heard the cost of securing Europe's gas supplies estimated at £200 billion. The funding operations that we will be involved with over the coming years, whatever the future, will be both very hazardous and very expensive.

I do not wish to say more than that. It is perhaps a somewhat acid note on which to finish our debate, but in the end we will have to overcome huge financial problems, and I do not envy those in the commercial world or in government who have the responsibility for taking the decisions.

With permission, I should like to speak briefly in the gap. In the debate on EN-1, I asked the Minister if he could guide me to any detailed cost and feasibility analyses that the Government had commissioned that would help me, as an engineer, to understand how they had arrived at the mix of low-carbon technologies that they had chosen. Since then, I have looked at the Redpoint Trilemma report referred to in EN-1 and EN-8. This contains overall capital and other costs for the various alternatives, and it is presumably on the basis of these numbers that the proposals from the Government have emerged.

It is here that one also finds how the ROCs will in effect pay for any excessive costs that emerge. However, the report still does not contain detailed numerical analyses that allow an engineer to decide whether the overall capital and other costs that are taken as the starting point are correct. I suspect that this is where the error lies that, if corrected, would bring the Government to the same conclusions that have been reached by the noble Lords, Lord Turnbull, Lord Jenkin, Lord Reay, and many others, and which I share, namely that offshore wind is too expensive to be used to play such a major role in our energy mix. Of course it is appropriate to use offshore wind, but not to the extent that is planned—it is just too expensive. I raise the issue again to make the point that the Government could have avoided these problems if they had been more transparent in the way that they came to their conclusions, and if they had used more expert advice and turned to engineering institutions such as the Royal Academy of Engineering. Of course, I declare my interest as a past president of that academy.

My Lords, we come to the last of these debates, although we have been reminded that a similar subject will be debated on Monday. I am sure that we will all come back and go through some of the same arguments. I intend not to spend a great deal of time summing up from these Benches—or rather, from this side of the Grand Committee.

However, I will set out a certain context. The House is on all sides committed to the need to decarbonise our economy. We as a House, and Parliament as a whole, passed overwhelmingly the Climate Change Act, which set the target of reducing our 1990 carbon emissions—not our current ones—by 80 per cent by 2050. To achieve that, we have to get on with it, and I am sure that not one person in this Room would want to start where we are. But we are where we are, and therefore we have to move forward towards the target as quickly as we can. That means using a combination of technologies that are well represented in these energy planning statements.

Some may find that the answer for our economy lies completely in nuclear power generation, while others would disagree and argue for a much broader mix. We on these Benches are great advocates of renewable sources, but I agree that wind power can make up only a proportion of our total energy generation. That is why it is important to bring on the other renewable technologies as quickly as possible. There are difficulties with all of them, including nuclear in terms of cost, so the dilemma for me is not so much the countryside. I would say that prairification of the land in the 1970s and 1980s has probably been more destructive of biodiversity in the English countryside than a few wind turbines. I can see some of them from my house, but prairification and other impacts have been far greater. The bigger problem, as many other speakers have mentioned during the debate, is how to square the circle of meeting the cost without creating more fuel poverty. It is a great challenge and I have no easy answers.

I shall refer to the individual documents. On fossil fuel, I would have preferred there to be an emissions performance standard. We will not have a chance to talk about that in any depth during the passage of the Energy Bill because it is almost certain that it will not reach Committee. I have a feeling that that might be the Conservative position as well, but I would have liked to see carbon capture and storage for new coal-fired power stations of all capacities rather than just those producing more than 300 megawatts.

On the view of CCS taken by the noble Baroness, Lady Young, I do not think that it is in any way a dream. All the technology is there. It is just a question of making it work at an affordable cost, or at least not unaffordable in comparison with the other technologies, within a reasonable timescale. The Liberal Democrats are strongly in favour of CCS, but I agree that in a way we are hanging on to it as a sort of comfort blanket. If everything else does not work, then at least we can carry on with fossil fuels and somehow get rid of the carbon. It is an essential technology so we certainly back the programmes. We think that they have been slow and faltering, but they are needed.

In terms of carbon capture readiness—we are getting used to such phrases from our high-definition television sets—who will decide when readiness should become actual? When the technology is in place, who will press the button so that the empty spaces beside our power stations are filled and investment starts up? Connected to carbon capture readiness is biomass. What I found strange in the document, and which I think might have something to do with the large combustion plant directive, is that biomass plants will have to meet the same conditions for carbon capture readiness. I do not understand that. I do not know whether it is due to fall-out from some ancient EU legislation. I assure the noble Lord, Lord Willoughby de Broke, that I opposed shed-loads of EU legislation while I was an MEP. That legislation is as good or as bad as ours or that of any other Parliament.

As for the sustainability arguments, if you are burning biomass, you are recycling CO2. Therefore, if you have a carbon capture and storage requirement with it, you are placing it in double jeopardy, which does not make sense from a scientific point of view. How does the provision work with co-firing, because co-firing with biomass is good in terms of the atmosphere and carbon emissions? Would any co-firing plants benefit from the carbon capture and storage requirements—as they should in theory? That is an important point.

The provision is very narrow for renewables technologies. That is understandable, given where the Government are at the moment. I hope very much that other technologies will come forward very quickly. I was amused by some of the detail and generalities of the statement. Paragraph 2.7.7 of the statement says, at page 56:

“The predicted wind resource will be a key consideration for the applicant in identifying a potential site”.

If the planning permission has to remind the commercial operator of that, frankly we should say no from the start. Paragraph 2.7.11 of the statement says, at page 57:

“The connection of the proposed onshore wind farm into the relevant electricity network will be an important consideration”.

If it is more than 30 megawatts, I guess that is likely to be the case. But there we are, I guess that the provision had to be filled up with something.

I come to something more challenging, and I should be interested to know whether the department has looked at this. I should think there would be scope for regulatory arbitrage in this area. Onshore wind farms can go through a difficult local planning process, involving possible planning appeals. It is a testing process. In fact, it is part of the Government’s justification for the IPC. The document refers to turbines of 2 to 3.5 megawatts. Is there not therefore a great incentive for developers to go for large sites with large generators, thereby avoiding the traditional local authority route? Therefore, it becomes more feasible to have large wind farms. Have the Government carried out an analysis of this factor? Do they think that there will be a move towards larger sites to avoid local authority accountability?

I completely agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Young, about the sustainability criteria with regard to biomass. That needs to be taken into consideration. In fact, for a moment, I thought that it was, given that paragraph 2.5.24, on page 11 states:

“Biomass or waste combustion plants are likely to generate considerable transport movements. For example, a biomass or waste combustion plant that uses 500,000 tonnes of fuel per annum (tpa) might generate a minimum of 200 heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) movements per day importing the fuel. There will also be residues which will need to be transported off site regularly. Therefore, any application should incorporate suitable access leading off from the main highway network”.

That is utterly obvious, but no sustainability argument is put forward. However, we must move away from the food miles-type argument. I have been involved in the freight industry for most of my career. I was mainly involved in land freight transport, but, like it or not, ship transport across oceans is amazingly efficient in terms of carbon emissions. It is often efficient in price as well. Probably—I do not know absolutely—the carbon emissions from taking a tonne of timber from a Canadian port to a British port are far less than when taking it from, say, Liverpool to Manchester. It is certainly cheaper. That is the way these things are. We have to be sophisticated in that analysis, although I am the last person who would suggest that we should fill the oceans with ships full of biomass.

On pipelines—a point brought up very strongly by the noble Lords, Lord Crickhowell and Lord Jenkin—it is slightly ironic that the policy relates only to oil and gas, and does not include CO2 pipelines. The transport side of that is important, too.

I know that energy networks are not covered by this policy document, but the real challenge is that we have to make them far smarter and broader in terms of long distance, whereby matters such as intermittency, which is certainly an issue, are less important through the use of smart grids and wider grids.

Finally, this debate has been, contrary to my initial expectations, a very good process in holding the Government to account, particularly given the contributions from Members such as the noble Lords, Lord Crickhowell and Lord Jenkin and others—and even the two noble Lords behind me.

My Lords, I, too, thank my noble friends and others for their contributions today and on the other days of debate on the national policy statements. They have raised very interesting points and some extremely important concerns. My noble friend Lord Crickhowell talked of LNG imports and safety. He was, as he said, a director of Associated British Ports. I was deputy chairman of the Port of London Authority, so I share some of his worries. The LNG tanker terminals present a special danger and the document seems to be inadequate on safety provision in that area. Perhaps the Minister will be able to guide us.

I should like to probe the Minister further on responsibility for the planning decisions around the four parts of the energy sector that we have been discussing. I raise my concern that passing ultimate responsibility for saying yes or no to major investment decisions to the IPC would lead to legal challenges. I said that earlier this week. These four NPSs show the possibility of the other danger—that necessary projects would fail to get the go-ahead at all. The Minister made it sound as if the IPC will find it easy after these NPSs come into effect to assess whether an individual application should be accepted. On reading the fine print, it is clear that this is not the case. The relative importance of so many of the conditions in these documents remains unassessed. The IPC must weigh up the costs and benefits of each project, with the importance of a green energy sector on one hand, and local concerns and environmental impact on the other. We heard more on this from my noble friends Lord Jenkin and Lord Reay.

Is the IPC also to decide how important each of those conditions is? Since we are so far off meeting the 2050 target, can we expect to see almost all low-carbon investment gaining consent in the immediate future, with local considerations only regaining their importance as an 80 per cent cut in emissions becomes a little less out of reach? Or is the IPC to guess at the future rate of applications and technological development, and award consent on a more consistent scale for the next 30 years?

I am afraid that I am going to chide the Minister a little more about the length of time that it has taken to get the Government to commit fully to an important feature of the low-carbon economy. Carbon capture and storage is still a developing technology, but it will undoubtedly play a critical role in allowing fossil fuel-based power stations to continue to play a part in our energy sector, while ameliorating their carbon footprint.

The Government have finally brought forward some of the powers for which we have been calling on CCS in the Energy Bill, which was recently laid in the House, but we have heard nothing about issues such as the pipelines that will be needed to transport the carbon dioxide. Can the associated infrastructure be provided under this statement, or will there be a further policy statement that handles the issues that are peculiar to that grid?

My concern about there being sufficient detail for the infrastructure decisions extends to the electricity network. Disparities are already appearing between the connections for which designated zones are receiving consent and the capacity that they are equal to producing. Although the Government have finally put to bed many of the objections to offshore wind power, they have still not taken seriously the need for reliable and cheap access to the national grid. I am sure the Minister will agree that having a target of 33 gigawatts of offshore generation would be meaningless without a means of feeding that capacity into the grid. Has he considered the Conservative policy of altering the regulatory regime to ensure that readily accessible under-sea direct current cables on the east and west coasts are put in place?

In other areas, too, the Government have shown themselves to be unwilling to face up to the obstacles that successful applications will have to overcome. In gas storage, inadequate planning guidance has been only one of the problems, albeit a massive one. The Government have continued to reject Conservative proposals for a minimum requirement of gas supplies to be available for suppliers of gas to domestic and business users and generators of gas, which would have signalled to investors that there is demand for greater gas storage, the growth of which has been sluggish until now as a result of both planning constraints and the huge levels of funding that will be required.

The Government are also resistant to other important policies on the creation of a genuine smart grid, where consumers can save money through a combination of informed energy usage and improved competition on energy tariffs. Obviously, a critical feature of such a smart grid is the successful rollout of smart meters to every home. We might have persuaded the Government to extend their support for smart meters beyond only commercial use more than a year ago, but we still have to hear much about the detail of how they see the rollout working. The Government seem to have decided that the rollout will be handled by suppliers. Does the Minister envisage the district network operators having a role as well? Surely their engagement will be necessary to manage the load on the local grid.

I finish today, after these long debates, more in sorrow than in anger. The Government are passing the buck to the IPC. All this should have been done a long time ago. Time has now run out, and I am afraid that it will be for the next Government to carry this work forward and to show some much-needed leadership.

My Lords, it is a great pleasure to wind up today’s debate, which is the third such debate that we have had. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, that this was unknown territory, but we have had some very good debates and some very strong points have been made. The test that is set for us is whether the draft national policy statements are fit for purpose. I remind noble Lords that, in the end, that is the question before us. We have ranged far and wide, and have had some genuine debates on energy policy, which I have no doubt we will continue to discuss, particularly at Second Reading of the Energy Bill the week after next.

I think that it has been a good process, and I reassure noble Lords that all the comments made in this debate and by the DECC Select Committee in the other place will be fully taken into account as part of the consultation process and parliamentary scrutiny. As we know, there may well be an opportunity for debate in the House if Motions are tabled proposing amendments to the national policy statements. Having listened to our debates, I suspect that noble Lords are not short of ideas for amendments, but we will come to that in due course.

The noble Lord, Lord Teverson, is right to say that there is a general political consensus about the need to move to a low-carbon energy mix, and he is right to stress that it should be a mix. Although I will come on to talk about wind power, we are not putting all our eggs in one basket; we are looking for a variety of low-carbon sources of energy. We are looking to ensure that we maximise the enormously important assets that we have in the North Sea, which will continue to play a major role in our energy security for many years to come. We are looking to encourage more storage—more import capacity. As the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, said, all of those have their challenges. The key issue is: do we have the right interventions, incentives and regulatory systems to ensure that that hangs together and happens? I believe that we do. I am convinced that an important element of that is the new planning system for which Parliament has now legislated.

I always welcome debates with the noble Baroness, Lady Wilcox, on the question of whether we have the timing right. I know that she feels, in essence, that these decisions should be made by Ministers rather than the Infrastructure Planning Commission. She knows that we disagree; we think it right that Ministers should set the policy. That is why, in the end, we will designate national policy statements, but that will take account of parliamentary process and public consultation. We think that there is considerable merit in decisions then being taken by the Infrastructure Planning Commission. We will have to beg to differ on that.

This is not a question of passing the buck. We are trying to achieve a consistent, transparent system that allows individuals and organisations to make their views known. Decisions should be made more quickly than under the current system, but in the context of clearly stated national policy. That is at the heart of what we are doing.

I say to the noble Lord, Lord Reay, that I have confidence that the IPC will have integrity in making its decisions. I think that he feared that if some decisions were made at national level rather than by local authorities, they would not be dealt with in the same way. I point out to him that before any application can be considered or accepted by the IPC, it must go through a robust process of local consultation by the developer, in which the local authority has a major role. That is a very important part of the new structure.

I do not want to repeat what I said in our debate only two days ago, but the IPC must come to a careful decision. It has to weigh up the information provided in the application and other material presented during examination to ensure that any identified adverse effects of the application are taken into account and mitigated. If the IPC is satisfied that the adverse impacts identified outweigh the benefits of the proposed development consent, it is clear that consent should be refused.

As noble Lords have said, we are dealing with four separate documents. Inevitably, it is difficult to deal with them with a common thread so, as other noble Lords have done, I am going to go through these matters subject by subject. As we had the rather marvellous announcement this morning about high- speed rail from London to Birmingham, I shall start with transport.

My noble friend Lord Berkeley had an important point to make about the transport implications and the presumption of sustainability, which he asked for. He mentioned a number of references in the documents to transport infrastructure—for instance, the IPC is told that it must expect applicants to locate new fossil fuel generating stations in the vicinity of existing transport routes wherever possible. In the draft overarching national policy statement, it is made clear that waterborne or rail transport is preferred over road transport where cost-effective. My noble friend asked what we mean by cost-effective, but we will have to leave the IPC to come to a judgment on that.

My noble friend was looking at a sort of carbon measurement. We have already had a debate on this issue, and one of the questions that has been posed is whether the IPC itself should have a hierarchy of decision-making where each application is measured for its carbon footprint and the IPC should favour applications on that basis. We do not take that view. We believe that the IPC should decide each application on its own merits. It is for the Government to ensure that the cumulative impact of the various interventions that we have to hand ensures that we meet our carbon reduction targets. The IPC has to make a decision on the merits of the case before it. I take my noble friend’s point, though, and the points that he made about waterborne transport were well made.

With regard to transport in connection with construction—I have checked this and if I think the NPS needs to be made clearer, I will ensure that that happens—the general principles that are written into the documents apply to construction as much as they do to any plant or infrastructure when it is up and running.

I turn to the question of tidal and wave power. I am afraid that the noble Baroness, Lady Young, had to leave us, but I shall respond to the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith. I say again that he should not read any mischievous intent into the Government’s not producing a national policy statement on wave and tidal.

My Lords, the Minister is defending himself. I certainly would not want to impute mischief, and I would not want him to think that I would. I know that he works very hard for us all.

I am grateful. I repeat, from 2020 onwards, tidal power in particular might well have a lot to offer. I have been encouraged by the signs of major companies now investing in some smaller companies. I refer noble Lords to MCT and certain companies operating in the Pentland Firth and Orkney, where there seems to be considerable interest. My understanding is that some of the trials that are now coming forward are showing promise. There has been a change on this in the past year to 18 months, but we are simply not ready for a national policy statement. However, I am keen to ensure that, when it looks as if serious applications are coming forward for consent, we will have a national policy statement ready.

The Severn tidal projects are the subject of a separate exercise. Five schemes are shortlisted and are going through assessment at the moment. We also identified a number of other schemes that some of the NGOs that are concerned about Severn tidal thought ought to be looked at. They are the subject of analysis at the moment, and I hope that the outcome will be available in the summer.

Is not one problem of the Government's approach to the Severn tidal barrage that they are concentrating their efforts on an assessment of the set of selected projects, rather than doing what Hermann Bondi did so thoroughly and efficiently a quarter of a century ago, which was to look first at the basic cost/benefit analysis in order to make sure that the fundamentals of the project were right, whichever project was selected? It is by no means clear that the work that was done so well at the time has been repeated on this occasion. I am sure that it will need to be.

My Lords, I assure the noble Lord that my department, in taking forward work in relation to the Severn, has looked carefully at previous studies. In relation to each of the shortlisted schemes, careful cost/benefit analysis has been undertaken. However, noble Lords will have an opportunity to debate these matters in the summer, when the Government publish the outcome of the work.

I turn to the question of wind, which we debate on a frequent basis. I am not sure that noble Lords in Grand Committee will come to agreement. I will pick up on the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Teverson. Noble Lords will know that I am passionate about the potential of nuclear energy; but wind power has a role to play, too. They are not mutually exclusive. There is strong evidence to suggest that we should develop different technologies. In terms of energy security, it makes a great deal of sense to have a variety of technologies.

The intermittency issue is well known, but individual turbines generate power 78 per cent of the time. Most of the time it is possible to generate significant amounts of electricity from wind. Wind energy is the renewable energy most able to deliver serious amounts of power. We have the best wind resource in Europe and it makes no sense not to use it.

This question is very important. What is the level of intermittency of wind? The Minister talked about generating energy 78 per cent of the time. I presume that that is not 78 per cent of the maximum capacity.

No, there is a distinction between the figure of 78 per cent and the load factor, which is around 20 per cent—I do not have the exact figure for that. My point is that noble Lords referred to the cold weather in early January and presented a picture of turbines never going round. I was making the point that individual turbines generate energy between 70 and 80 per cent of the time. That is not the load factor: I accept that.

I also accept that we need alternative back-up for wind. However, there are options to reduce the amount that we need, including greater demand-side management and the use of non-intermittent technologies as well. We have to make sure that the system as a whole is balanced. I am glad to report to noble Lords that part of the work that we are doing at the moment in the energy market assessment is looking at how the mix comes together, how we will meet the 2020 target that we have agreed to, and how we will ensure that this is as cost-effective as possible.

The noble Lord, Lord Willoughby de Broke, expressed doubts about whether we could reach our renewable energy target, particularly with the emphasis on wind. I have to tell him that I am confident that we can do so, and will pray in aid the very successful Crown Estate third-round leasing exercise earlier in the year which revealed a huge appetite on the part of investors and developers for developing offshore wind.

Yes, there is a subsidy, and I do not think that the Government have ever denied that that subsidy is called the renewables obligation. But I know that when I mention the name of the noble Lord, Lord Stern, it does not always produce the joy I expect to see. The fact is, however, that in general renewable energy is more expensive. It will not be developed without a subsidy—that is what the renewables obligation is—but the work of the noble Lord, Lord Stern, has shown that if we are to reach a low-carbon energy future, the sooner we start down this route, the more cost-effective it will be.

I am most grateful to the noble Lord for answering the queries about wind power. It is really a question of the number of wind turbines that must be built in order to reach these ambitious targets. Is he confident that 10,000 wind turbines will be built by 2020?

Yes, and I am happy to write to the noble Lord. We have set out scenarios for how we will get to that number. We estimate that 26 gigawatts of wind power in our lead scenario in the renewable energy strategy could mean about 10,000 new turbines by 2020. At the moment some four gigawatts are (already) in operation with an additional 8.9 gigawatts’ worth under construction or with consent and awaiting construction. So already we have an awful lot of gigawatts in the pipeline, and I have every confidence that we will reach the target. I know that some noble Lords do not find wind turbines to be constructs of beauty, and I understand the issues around landscape and heritage.

I have only been a listener, but I take a great interest in this subject. What does all this do to our energy costs in the international context? If, as previous speakers have suggested, at this rate our energy costs are likely to be twice those of other countries, that is going to be a huge handicap on our industry. Have we looked at these projects in relation to the totality of cost and its effect on industry?

Yes. The point I should make for the noble Lord is that the United Kingdom is not going down the renewable energy road in isolation. Almost every country is developing renewable energy sources. China, which we hear so much about, has hugely ambitious renewable energy targets. The fact is that whatever the difficulty of reaching agreement in Copenhagen on steps towards a legally binding treaty, I have no doubt whatever that the world is embarked on a move towards low-carbon energy. Of course we have to be concerned if our policies on energy put UK business at a disadvantage. No one wants to do that, and we want to achieve this in as competitive a way as possible. The noble Lord, Lord Jenkin, referred—

I am sorry to interrupt the noble Lord. On a point of clarity regarding the figure of 26 gigawatts, is that the maximum power output or the degraded 20 per cent of it? On the degraded side, 10,000 turbines producing 2.6 megawatts each would provide that amount of power, but they are not going to deliver that figure.

I am very wary of jousting on technical issues with the noble Lord, Lord Broers, but I am sure he is right. The figures have to translate in terms of load factor into the amount of electricity that you could expect to see produced. He is absolutely right on that point.

I am sorry to interrupt the Minister again, but he expressed confidence that the 2020 target for electricity energy to be supplied by renewables would be met. In my speech in the energy debate of October 2005, I expressed doubt that the target of 10 per cent of electricity supplied from renewable sources by 2010 would be met. What percentage has been achieved? Is it not only about 2 or 3 per cent?

No, my Lords, it is better than that. It is about 6 per cent. In 2002, it was roughly 1.8 per cent, so there has been a big increase. The trajectory shows a faster acceleration the closer to 2020 we get, as one would expect.

My Lords, I apologise for interrupting the Minister yet again, but we need to clarify one issue. The reality is that wind is in a very privileged position in that it receives a very high level of subsidy that is not necessarily provided to other sectors. Nuclear, for instance, is expected to stand on its own feet. Both are equally carbon emissions-free. The solution ought to be to rectify the carbon market so that the price of carbon is real and so that all the different sectors can compete on an equal basis. At the moment, we do not have that. Will the Minister speculate a little on how soon we might achieve that sort of balance, which is vital?

That is right. We have said that nuclear power must be developed to be commercially viable with no subsidy. Clearly there is an issue about the carbon market and the price of carbon.

From 2013, the EU cap will be tightened, and the rules will be tightened. Auctioning is being introduced in phase 2, there will be much more auctioning in phase 3, and the system will become much more robust. I think that the price is around €13 at the moment, but I accept that this is an issue. The Government have always said that we will keep the price of carbon under review. As part of our work on the energy market assessment, which will be an initial analysis published at the time of the Budget, we will look at this matter to see what the options for interventions are.

I do not have an easy answer to the noble Lord’s question, but we are very much aware of the issue. It would be much better if the carbon market operated effectively. That would be preferable to interventions, but, given that we are where we are, we have to look at some of the options that are available. I do not want noble Lords to think that these interventions are necessarily easy. We are working in quite difficult territory.

I must move on a little. We have seen the Ofgem guesstimates. My department’s work on the low-carbon transition plan shows much smaller increases in the total cost of climate change policies. It estimates that the increase will be around 9 per cent for domestic bills by 2020, and up to 16 to 18 per cent for business bills.

All these matters are, of course, subject to debate. I have listened with care to the comment made by the noble Lord, Lord Broers. He is right that the modelling in the national policy statement was undertaken by Redpoint/Trilemma, which used models to illustrate how much new investment we might need in any infrastructure over the next 15 years. We think that the data are objective, but I am very happy to discuss this with him further and to share data with him so that he can see how we came to the figures.

We may disagree about the additional cost, but there is one. However, I come back to the point that I made earlier. At the end of the day, we think that it is best for us to go down the low-carbon route as quickly as possible, and the cost-effectiveness will become clear over time. I should also say that the more turbines we build, the more the cost will reduce. The whole renewable obligations system is based on the expectation that costs will come down, and I am sure that that will happen.

I move on to the question raised by the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, and by the noble Baroness, Lady Young, about the energy mix. The noble Lord felt that there was too much focus on the period up to 2025 and that we needed to look at a longer timescale. I agree. Alongside the energy market assessment, we are working on what we call a “road map” to 2050, looking at what the energy mix should be by that year. That is consistent with the kind of investment decisions that energy companies will have to make, but it does not undermine what is contained in the national policy statements. Again, I hope that we will be able to publish something fairly soon, and your Lordships will no doubt wish to develop it.

On the question of Kazakhstan, I was there last week, as well as in Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan, looking for oil and gas. It has been a policy of the Government to encourage gas and oil from the Caspian being brought to Europe. This country would probably get very little gas from the Caspian, but it would mean another source of energy for Europe in general, which would have a positive impact in terms of our own energy security.

If ever there was a need for EU leadership in terms of ensuring that we get the southern corridor up and running rather than just talking about it, this is it. Energy security is one of the most important areas for the EU to be developing. I assure the noble Lord that we think it is worthwhile piping gas from Kazakhstan, and Europe should be a jolly sight more active in encouraging that to happen.

My Lords, I have no quarrel with the decision in the short term. However, if we look at the targets that we have set ourselves for 2050, and if we consider that they are a proxy for the targets that Europe itself will have to set as a developed part of the world, we also have to recognise that that is a very vulnerable investment in the longer term. If we are to achieve what we have said we wish to achieve in this country, we will be literally almost out of gas by 2050.

That reinforces the point that we need to encourage the diversification of gas supply. Also, while this country is no longer self-sufficient, we need to ensure that we make the most of our remaining reserves in the North Sea, which are considerable. I also refer noble Lords to the decision made by my right honourable friend the Chancellor a few weeks ago about the tax incentive given to development west of Shetland, which is enormously important.

My Lords, by “being out of gas” I did not mean that we would have run out of gas—I meant that we would have stopped using it.

I am sorry. We have to be very careful. We are moving towards a low-carbon world, but gas has an important part to play in the transition from where we are now to there. We do not want a reduction in investment in gas supply in the next few years; that would be a disaster. I agree that there is a debate to be had about the dash for gas, and that questions must be answered about how we will get the balance right. That is for government to work through. I will come to the question of carbon capture and storage. Noble Lords have not talked about carbon capture and storage for gas. Having assumed that we will crack the issue of carbon capture and storage for coal, there is no reason why the technology cannot be extended to gas. It is worth making the point that the Bill was amended in the other place so that the financial incentive mechanism that is being adopted for CCS for coal can be used for gas, although we made it clear that coal was our priority. I understand where the noble Lord is coming from.

We are making good progress here. When I took 46 minutes to wind up my remarks, I was severely berated by government Whips, which is why they have left me to it this afternoon. In theory, we could go on until 6 pm.

My Lords, I get the message. Carbon-capture ready means that all new combustion power stations of more than 300 megawatts must prove at the consent stage that no foreseeable barriers exist to the future retrofit of carbon-capture equipment. It means that developers must leave suitable space on site for carbon capture equipment. They must demonstrate through a number of assessments that it will be possible to retrofit such equipment to the power station, that they have identified a suitable area offshore where captured CO2 can be stored, and that it will be possible to transport the CO2 from the plant to the storage area. No plants will gain consent until they can demonstrate that they are carbon-capture ready.

One point that I perhaps did not develop is the question of how far a developer has to establish that he has the power to transport the carbon dioxide to storage. How far does he have to go to prove that he will have access to the offshore site that he has identified for storage?

My Lords, I take the point that we may need to clarify the NPS. That is the benefit of these debates. The advice that I have received is that it should be possible to set out plans for how CCS should be applied, although we recognise that the plans may have to be updated in light of the experience of the first demonstration project. My department’s guidelines to CCR, published in November, give detailed advice on how developers should present appropriate evidence of technical and economic feasibility. They allow for the impossibility of being absolutely certain now about what the future developments will be. I will take this back, because it is an important point. What we want is clarity. I do not want to create a situation where developers are uncertain. I accept that a strong point has been made.

On the question of CCS in general, a number of noble Lords have pointed to various projects throughout the world. I am always being told that the UK is falling behind other countries. One can always point to projects, but what has not been established is a whole-chain process on the scale that we intend to adopt. That is the importance of what we are doing. An important part of that is the independent evaluation of the cost-effectiveness and technical aspects of CCS on the scale that we propose. That is vital. It answers the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, who asked whether CCS was competitive. That will be shown through this process.

If we look at the IEA’s projections for the use of coal in 2040-50, as far as I can see there is no chance of meeting any emissions targets, or any pledges that countries have made in the accord, without carbon- capture and storage technology working, because coal will continue to be a prime source of energy.

I understand that coal is available in 70 countries in the world. That is what makes it so important, and it has huge potential for this country’s export capacity, if we can pull it off. I know that noble Lords feel that progress has been slow. The noble Baroness is always berating me on these matters. I know that the competition has taken time, but we have had to do this very carefully. It is a very complex procurement. The next stage is to fund bidders to undertake detailed design work and then the successful project once this is complete. We are doing this as fast as we can, and we will of course learn the lessons from the first competition when it comes to the second, third and fourth projects. It is very important that we do that.

We have to recognise that there are many challenges. The noble Lord, Lord Jenkin, asked why carbon storage would be licensed only for offshore. We considered all the storage options very carefully, but we have decided that the best option at present would be the use of offshore storage, which is why we have gone down that route. One of the issues is public acceptability, although I fully recognise the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin, about the theoretical possibility of onshore storage. I do not disagree with him.

Before the Minister finishes on CCS and goes on to something else, he used the expression “cost-effective”. What does he mean by that in the context of CCS? Although in essence he has answered this question: can he foresee a low-carbon future for the country without CCS on gas and coal?

My Lords, that is a very good question. I am not sure that I can define “cost-effective” today. Perhaps it is rather early for me to do that, in essence. When we set up the independent evaluation, the department will have to work on the remit to be given to the body. Can we do without CCS? Clearly, we can have an energy mix which does not include gas or coal, but I prefer to look at the global position and I simply do not see how globally we can reach a low-carbon energy outcome without CCS. We are very much part of that and that is why this is so important.

I retrospectively declare an interest as honorary president of the Carbon Capture and Storage Association. I apologise.

My Lords, I am grateful and the noble Lord is providing invaluable advice to my department on those matters. He can probably answer the question on cost-effectiveness very much better than I can.

I turn to the very interesting point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Crickhowell, on safety in terms of the infrastructure and ship movements. As far as I am concerned, the energy infrastructure in itself is subject to COMAH and enforced by the HSE and the Environment Agency. He referred to SIGTTO; I should like to take his points away and give him a considered response, because this is rather a new issue for me as a Minister here. I want also to make some general points. As far as energy and safety of shipping navigation is concerned, of course safety is paramount. The NPS makes it clear that the HSE regime that governs the sites for these turbines—the noble Lord said that he has no issue with the HSE’s discharge of its own duties—emphasises the safety of navigation for shipping. I refer him to the statement in the appraisal of sustainability document which accompanies these statements about the statutory arrangements for the safety of navigation.

Page 13 of the document, which I will be happy to send to the noble Lord, makes it clear that,

“the safety of shipping and navigation is an important issue for all shipping, especially LNG tanker shipments. The existing legal framework and its enforcement will ensure that LNG tanker shipments are safely regulated”.

The Safety of Life at Sea convention, SOLAS, governs the requirement for safe navigation between ports. Chapters 4 and 5 cover the carriage requirements for navigation and communication equipment. Those requirements vary according to the size and class of ship, and LNG ships will face the strictest obligations of any cargo flags. They are variously inspected, surveyed and certified by the maritime flag administration or a recognised organisation acting on its behalf. At sea, LNG tankers have to obey all normal traffic reporting, and routine rules and procedures as well as collision regulations. There are special rules regarding port operations for LNG vessels with detailed procedures set out port by port.

On the issue of regassification at sea, the Energy Act 2008 supports the through-the-night relicensing scheme for offshore gas storage and LNG unloading. There are projects coming through, but we think that there is also scope for onshore LNG registration and storage terminals. The safety case is always considered as part of the development application.

I am very grateful to the noble Lord for doing his best to correct the extraordinary omission of any reference to port safety in this document by repeating all the arrangements that I referred to in my speech. But the truth of the matter is that he is giving me exactly the same answer as that of the noble Lord, Lord Sainsbury of Turville, some five and a half years ago; namely, that he knew little about it and would come back to me. I hope that on this occasion, unlike the noble Lord, Lord Sainsbury, the noble Lord will come back to me and to Parliament as a whole with an adequate statement of where the Government’s policy on the safety of these installations in terms of their planning arrangements in ports is going. As I said in my speeches both today and five and a half years ago, this is a black hole that has got to be filled.

Part of the value of these debates is that if noble Lords identify areas where they think that the national policy statements are not clear, it provides an opportunity for the department to take a look at them, and I was going to offer to do that. I wanted only to make it clear that in relation to the appraisal for sustainability, while he may think that this does not cover the point sufficiently, it is not as if the issue has been left out. However, I accept that he has raised points which he may not think have been covered in the departmental response. I can certainly give him an undertaking to look carefully at this matter.

The noble Lord also asked about communications and said that they were pivotal. I agree with him, and would make the point that no application can be considered by the IPC unless extensive consultation has already taken place. If the IPC is not satisfied with that, it simply will not accept the application and it will not be able to go through the formal procedure.

The noble Lord, Lord Reay, asked whether we have a target for gas storage. We do not have a target, but I would remind him that our position is rather different from continental countries with no indigenous supplies. The fact that we have North Sea supplies is a great asset and will continue to be one for many years to come. However, we want more storage facilities. There has been good news recently. A licence was issued for the gateway gas storage project in the east Irish Sea offshore from Barrow. Many projects are in the pipeline, and I hope that many of them come to fruition.

I say to the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin, that the Electricity Network Strategy Group has done some important work. It has identified that we need major investment over the next 10 years; I think that it priced it at about £4.7 billion. How does that relate to the IPC? It is a group of key stakeholders and experts under the joint chairmanship of our good friends in Ofgem and my department. As we state in EN-1, we believe that that represents the best available view of the optimum strategy to reinforce the network infrastructure. That makes it relevant for the IPC when considering applications. Of course, the report suggests various scenarios; it is not exhaustive. Applications may come forward which are not included or suggested in the report, so they must be considered on their merits by the IPC.

The noble Baroness, Lady Wilcox, in particular, mentioned smart meters and the supergrid. Smart meters are an essential foundation; we are very committed to them. Clearly, the development of what is described as a supergrid will be very helpful in balancing the grid and ensuring that we use energy in the most effective way. The local distribution companies will have an important role to play in that.

Time moves on. I would like to say two things about biomass. First, noble Lords are right to raise the issue of sustainability of biomass. That is very important. Sustainability is dealt with under the renewables obligation. That requires generators of more than 50 kilowatts to report annually to Ofgem on the biomass that they are using. The European Commission produced a report on biomass and actions that member states can take on sustainability. I must say that we had hoped that it would produce a mandatory scheme. It has not, but we will pursue that. I fully accept the points made about sustainability. On imports, the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, is right. My understanding is that, notwithstanding the fact that biomass can be imported by ship from Canada, it is not necessarily negative in its carbon footprint, but sustainability is very important.

The noble Lord, Lord Willoughby de Broke, has, alas, left us. However, as he raised the issue of the chief executive of the IPC, I should place the position on record. The IPC states that it is committed to openness. It publishes a register of interests on its website, where information on the commissioners’ and staff interests is freely available. The chief executive is currently making a decision about whether to sell his shares or to place them in a blind trust.

I have spoken for 49 minutes; I apologise for the length of time that it has taken, but I think that the national policy statements have had a pretty fair airing. I look forward to the debate on Motions which will undoubtedly be laid before us. This has been a good process. Many noble Lords have taken part in a number of debates. I express my grateful thanks to them.

Motion agreed.