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Clean Energy

Volume 589: debated on Thursday 18 December 2014

Since 2010, an average of £7 billion a year has been invested each year in renewable electricity production, double the £3 billion a year in the previous Parliament.

In recent months, the UK has slipped to seventh place in the EY attractiveness index for investment in renewables. EY labelled the Government’s actions as

“policy tinkering and conflicting signals”


“too much for investors to handle.”

Does the Minister recognise that mixed messages are coming from his Government and that that is a major reason for his failure on investment?

I do not think that the hon. Lady listened to my answer. The amount of investment in renewables is more than double that in the previous Parliament, so it is difficult to answer the rest of the question when it is based on a complete misconception of the facts. We have a clear policy to tackle carbon emissions and ensure that we meet the UK’s international obligations on carbon alongside the lowest possible reasonable cost to consumers and ensuring the security of energy supplies. In the past year, 15% of our electricity has come from renewable sources, double the amount under the previous Government. We are making progress, but we must do it in a way that keeps costs down.

Since we are quoting EU league tables for energy, will the Minister confirm that in 2010 only two EU countries had less renewable energy than us—Malta and Cyprus—and that he has no intention of allowing that situation to occur again?

Absolutely. The previous Labour Government insisted on higher bills and there was very little in the way of renewables. We have tackled the higher bills and bills are falling—they have not been frozen at the high levels at which the Labour party proposed. We have also ensured that we have renewable electricity, because it is secure and it is domestic, and we have done that in a way with as low a cost as is reasonably possible.

Investors in renewable energy will have been very interested in the Minister’s answers but will have been dismayed this week to hear the Prime Minister attack onshore wind, the cheapest large-scale form of renewable energy, in the Liaison Committee. He said

“let’s…put them into the planning system and if they can make their case, they will make their case. I suspect that they won’t”.

With the right hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr Pickles) as Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, I share the Prime Minister’s pessimism. The Secretary of State has intervened in more than 50 onshore wind applications, which could have powered some 275,000 homes. Does the Minister agree that instead of listening to local communities, as they should be, this Government have taken Whitehall intervention in the planning system to unprecedented heights?

The Opposition have an extraordinary contradiction at the heart of their questions. The Prime Minister is clear that onshore wind should not be subsidised because increasingly it is a value-for-money proposition. The idea that we should subsidise more heavily something that is increasingly approaching grid parity seems bizarre, and the idea that that should be done without proper planning consideration is bonkers.