Long-term strategy 'is needed for coal sell-off'

PRIVATISATION of British Coal should be based on a long- term government strategy for the industry which buyers would be forced to accept, according to

Michael Clark, a Conservative member of the Trade and Industry Select Committee.

The strategy should include long-term coal contracts with the electricity generators put in place before privatisation. Alternatively, National Power and PowerGen should be asked to take a stake in the mining industry to give them an incentive to invest in new clean technologies for burning coal to secure the industry's future, he said.

Speaking at the Royal Institution, Dr Clark said it was up to the Government to solve the coal industry's immediate problems.

He warned: 'The Government must not fail to be aware of its duty to act in the national interest. If a significant proportion of the UK's coal reserves was abandoned, resulting in a major reduction of long-term energy security, the country would see this not as a commercial decision but a largely irreversible decision of historic significance for the UK.'

However, Dr Clark added that investment in clean coal technology was also needed urgently if the UK coal sector was to compete with low-sulphur imports or cleaner natural gas. 'Whereas coal will come back into its own on price alone within 10 to 15 years, the only means it has of hanging on to its current market share of power generation is through the introduction and expansion of clean coal technology,' he said.

Dr Clark, former chairman of the energy select committee, bitterly attacked the Government's failure in the past to exploit Britain's acknowledged lead in clean coal technology and demanded that it back the building of a demonstration plant.

He said coal would remain an important global fuel and that Britain's competitors were investing heavily to make the fuel more efficient and environmentally- friendly. Dr Clark said Japan spent dollars 250m a year on clean coal work and Germany dollars 100m, while the United States was spending dollars 875m over four years. At the same time British research was already being exploited overseas.

He said: 'We cannot sell our technology because we cannot demonstrate it and in due course we shall not be able to sell coal without proven advanced technology. Will we have to import technology after all the pilot plant work we have done?'

He said that no substantial assistance was coming from the privatised electricity industry. If the Government could not countenance direct aid for clean coal technology, it should consider introducing more onerous limits on emissions from power plants. This would force the generators to actively back new technology or go out of business.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Convicted art fraudster John Myatt
art

Life and Style
fashion

News
The Magna Carta
archaeologyContemporary account of historic signing discovered
News
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.
peopleFormer Newsnight presenter is being touted for a brand new role
Arts and Entertainment
Johnny Depp no longer cares if people criticise his movie flops
films
Arts and Entertainment
All in a day's work: the players in the forthcoming 'Posh People: Inside Tatler'
TVGrace Dent thinks we should learn to 'hug a Hooray Henry', because poshness is an accident of birth
News
The two-year-old said she cut off her fringe because it was getting in her eyes
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager - Expo

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our Client has been the leader ...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Sales Manager - Aesthetic Medical Devices - £80,000 OTE

£45000 - £80000 per annum + car + benefits: h2 Recruit Ltd: A market leader in...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Field Sales Engineer - Welding Supplies - £45,000 OTE

£25000 - £45000 per annum + car: h2 Recruit Ltd: A fantastic and unique Field ...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager - Medical Lasers - £80,000 OTE

£45000 - £80000 per annum + benefits: h2 Recruit Ltd: A global market leader i...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game