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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
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 Executive / Digital Marketing Executive

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A luxury beauty house with a nu...

Recruitment Genius: Housekeepers - Immediate Start

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This company are currently recruiting new exp...

Recruitment Genius: Head Concierge

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning Property Man...

Recruitment Genius: Content, SEO and PPC Executive

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral