Government in Crisis: Public sector shows shift from UK coal

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

THOSE LOOKING for an indication of government energy policy should not look to the Department of Trade and Industry, but to the Home Office, writes Martin Whitfield.

Expensive coal-fired prison boilers, built to receive British coal, are being fuelled by Russian imports or are being stripped out to be replaced by gas.

The big boilers installed three years ago at Rampton special hospital, Nottinghamshire, at a cost of about pounds 2m are planned to be converted to burn gas at a cost of pounds 150,000. They consume 2,500 tons of coal a year and the change will cut labour costs.

Proposals for the department's fashionable 'dash for gas' are also in progress at several other prisons, displacing more than 5,000 tons of coal.

Littlehey prison, near Huntingdon, uses 1,200 tons a year of Russian coal, which has also found favour with Stocken Prison, near Stamford, and Wayland Prison, Norfolk, according to the Home Office.

One Home Office insider said: The vast capital cost is now money down the drain. These plans were built specifically to secure the market for British coal and to reduce reliance on imported fuels.'