Mr Peter Hain (Neath) (Lab): Given the frustratingly disappointing outcome of Rio and the crisis of investor confidence in solar PV, onshore wind and nuclear in Britain, is it not even more important that the Deputy Prime Minister joins the growing cross-party support for the Severn barrage, which would generate 5% of the electricity in Britain and create nearly 40,000 jobs—a green project that will deliver the Government’s renewable energy commitments?
The Deputy Prime Minister: I pay tribute to the fervour with which the right hon. Gentleman is throwing himself into this new cause in a political career of many great causes. I agree with the underlying assertion that for investors to make investments in major energy infrastructure of whatever kind, they need long-term stability and long-term certainty about the direction of Government policy. That is precisely what the electricity market reform aims to provide.
Mr Peter Hain (Neath) (Lab): Will the Prime Minister meet to take forward the Severn barrage project, which is entirely privately financed and could be the biggest source of renewable generation in Europe, generating 5% of Britain’s electricity needs? Does he accept that, with a flat economy in Britain and Europe, this £30 billion of private investment in growth and jobs is a no-brainer?
The Prime Minister: I heard the right hon. Gentleman on “Farming Today” waxing eloquent on this project. I think that it has many advantages. A huge amount of renewable energy could be delivered through a barrage of this kind. He knows that there are lots of problems and that the environmental groups have been divided over it, but I am very happy to listen to his views as he takes forward this important piece of work. I think that there are many opportunities in a challenging European economy, as he says, to look at energy connectors and energy co-operation, particularly between England, France and other northern European countries.