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Wilson calls for dedicated energy department


BRITAIN NEEDS a secretary of state for energy and a dedicated government department to drive policy, former Labour energy minister Brian Wilson said last week.

Government policy on energy is suffering from being spread between a number of departments, ' Wilson told delegates at a clean coal seminar run by contractor Mitsui Babcock.

At present energy minister Malcolm Wicks operates within the Department of Trade & Industry (DTI). But the Department for the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs influences energy policy's impact on the environment.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister holds planning powers.

And the Foreign & Commonwealth Offi e (FCO) leads negotiations with foreign fuel suppliers.

'Security of the UK's imported gas supply emerged as an issue at the FCO long before it dawned on the DTI, ' Wilson said.

Departments do not see eye to eye either, he claimed.

Wilson's call received enthusiastic support from many in the energy sector. It comes as the government begins its energy review (NCE 26 January).

Former ICE energy board chair David Anderson said that a single department would be better able to tackle the complex energy decisions lying ahead.

'Issues around nuclear new build will become increasingly pressing as the world's energy resources become stretched, and the Far East extends its demand and reach.

'These kinds of issue merit ministerial attention at the highest level, ' said Anderson.

He added that the ICE had been pressing for energy to be represented at Cabinet level for some time.

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