Labour set to unveil five-point plan for “energy security and sovereignty”

Elliot Chappell
© UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

Ed Miliband is set to unveil Labour’s five-point plan for a “secure route to energy security and sovereignty”, calling for a “national sprint” to build a greener, cleaner and more secure energy system in the UK.

In a visit to the University of Salford with Andy Burnham on Thursday, the Shadow Climate Change and Net Zero Secretary will declare that it is “time to turbocharge the shift to green energy” and outline the following plan:

    1. “An energy efficiency revolution to insulate 19 million homes in a decade, cut gas imports by 15% and cut bills by up to £400;
    2. “Double our onshore wind capacity to 30GW by 2030, to power an extra ten million homes;
    3. “Increase offshore wind capacity to at least 75GW by 2035;
    4. “Triple solar power by 2030, back tidal power and further investment in hydrogen;
    5. “End the delay on nuclear power, confirming Sizewell C and backing SMRs.”

“From home energy efficiency to onshore and offshore wind, hydrogen and tidal to solar and nuclear power, it is time to turbocharge the shift to green energy. This is the safest, quickest route to national energy security. In doing so, we can create good jobs and a vibrant economic future for the whole nation,” Miliband will say.

The Shadow Secretary of State is expected to outline the Labour Party’s opposition to allowing new fracking, arguing that “the answer to a fossil fuel crisis is not to double down on fossil fuels with a dangerous lurch towards fracking”.

There have been indications this week that the government could end the moratorium on fracking in an attempt to diversify the UK’s energy supply and reduce the reliance on Russian oil and gas in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine.

Miliband will also say Tory governments have been hampered in affecting a transition to a greener economy by Tory climate sceptics, offering as an example the 2015 decision to ban onshore wind. The ban was subsequently reversed in 2020.

He will add that the most secure route for the UK, in the interests of both national security and tackling the rising cost of living following a surge in energy prices, would be for the country to go “further and faster” on a green transition.

Ahead of the visit, the Labour frontbencher responsible for net zero said: “We can make ourselves safer and more secure and keep bills lower with a green sprint, including a plan to insulate millions of homes.”

Reacting to Labour’s new plan, a Momentum spokesperson said there were “some positives” in it, but it “won’t come close to addressing the problem” unless big energy companies are taken into public ownership.

Miliband has also accused the Conservatives of presiding over a “decade of failure on renewables, nuclear, and energy efficiency”, which he said left the country “vulnerable to the global fossil fuel market”.

“The government said they were ‘cutting the green crap’ but it was a disaster – with bills for working families £2.5bn higher as a result. Business as usual, or false solutions such as fracking will not bring down bills or achieve security,” he added.

“Only Labour can deliver the national energy security plan we need to cut bills, safeguard our energy supply, and provide security for future generations by tackling the climate crisis.”

Domestic gas prices increased by 28%, and electricity prices by 19%, in the year to January 2022. Regulator Ofgem announced last month that the energy price cap would increase in April from its current equivalent annual level of £1,277 per year to £1,971, which represents a 54% increase.

Energy prices were expected, before the invasion of Ukraine, to peak in April this year when the new default price cap on household energy bills comes into effect. The Bank of England was forecasting the inflation rate to peak at 7.25%.

But after price rises in commodities markets since Russia’s invasion, forecasts for consumer price inflation have increased. The National Institute for Economic and Social Research predicted earlier this month that inflation will peak at 8.1% in the third quarter of 2022.

Labour called in January for the government to introduce a windfall tax on North Sea oil and gas companies in response to rising living costs. Rachel Reeves cited the “record profits” made by the companies as utility bills have risen sharply.

Keir Starmer reiterated the demand for a windfall tax in Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, as he used the session to focus on the impact of rising energy bills, and accused Boris Johnson of “protecting energy profits, not working people”.

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