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Clean Growth

Volume 656: debated on Tuesday 19 March 2019

As my hon. Friend knows, I am very pleased to discuss our leadership position in this area. We have led the G7 in cutting emissions while growing our national income. Since 2000, we have topped the global leader board of the G20 in reducing our annual carbon intensity. I set out, a couple of years ago now, how the clean growth strategy will take that progress forward and, indeed, accelerate it. The recent offshore wind sector deal was a fantastic example of how we can work with industry to advance our decarbonisation and also create jobs right across the UK.

The growth of offshore wind is providing great opportunities for coastal communities around the United Kingdom, including the port of Fraserburgh in my constituency, which is set to host an operations and maintenance base for the Moray East wind farm project. Does my right hon. Friend agree that the new offshore wind sector deal will help more ports like Fraserburgh to benefit from this key aspect of our future energy sector?

Most certainly. In an uncertain world, to go and stand on the docks of Lowestoft and visit Great Yarmouth and see the wind turbines and feel the wind is actually to see the future—this incredible opportunity. We have the best conditions for offshore wind generation in the world, and that will create jobs right across the UK—we estimate over 27,000 by 2030. We are world-leading in this: very few countries have even started to install. We reckon that exports of up to £2.6 billion will be available, and of course the benefits from that will flow to coastal communities right across the UK.

Will the Minister join me in congratulating Bacon Engineering in Great Grimsby on its 120th anniversary? Will she commit to working with me to assist local companies like that to become part of the supply chain of the energy estuary’s burgeoning offshore wind sector?

The offshore wind sector deal was a gift that kept on giving, because the hon. Lady and I had the great pleasure of discussing that with the Prime Minister on the Friday after the launch and seeing the incredible opportunities already flowing to the wonderful port of Grimsby, which she represents very well. I would love to congratulate that local firm and work with her on this groundbreaking sector deal.

We have known how to build houses that cost nothing to heat for 20 years, but we just do not do it. Does the Minister agree that one of the best ways to get clean growth is to support my Housing Reform Bill, which would supply serviced plots of land on which thermally efficient houses could be built?

My hon. Friend is a wonderful campaigner on this new and exciting area of house building, which is part of the grand challenge. I was very pleased, as I am sure he was, to see the Chancellor commit last week to phasing out fossil fuel heating in homes from 2025. We know we can decarbonise. We know we need to do more.

All of us will support the Government in their attempts to deliver clean growth, but we need international action. Can the Minister be more specific about what the Government are doing to encourage international action to increase clean growth?

I enjoyed what might be the last ever meeting of EU Energy Ministers last week, where it was clear that our leadership, which has been so important in the EU, will continue unabated. Countries look to us and want to work with us. The hon. Gentleman will know that we are in the process of bidding to host the 2020 climate change talks here in the UK. To me, that is the most seminal moment since the Paris talks, as we will have to show our national contributions and see whether we are on track. I would love to get his support for that bid.

More than 60 of the UK’s onshore wind farms are set to reach the end of their support deals in the next five years. How will the Government ensure that we do not lose our onshore wind capacity as those plants reach the end of their lives?

I am sure that my hon. Friend, like me, welcomes the fact that we already have more than 13 GW of onshore wind installed. As she says, much of that is reaching the end of its life. Those plants can be repowered to generate more energy, and we expect them to be, but any application must be consistent with what local people want, so I expect developers to work closely with local communities to deliver that.

In spite of what the Minister says, her Government’s nuclear dogma is holding back Scotland’s green growth. Having lost market confidence in the Moorside, Wylfa and Oldbury-on-Severn nuclear projects, will she get the message about nuclear’s terminal decline and start backing Scotland’s renewables growth revolution instead?

The hon. Gentleman needs to understand that we welcome the fact that we have a diverse energy supply. As we have discussed, there are thousands of jobs to be created from renewables and also from our world-leading nuclear installations. We need a low-carbon, reliable, low-cost energy system, and thanks to the work we are doing, we think that over 70% of the UK’s energy supply will be zero-carbon in just 11 years.

The facts are that, compared with offshore wind, the Tory Hinkley project will saddle consumers with a 35% tax on energy bills. Given that this Government currently have no consequences for Ministers who switch policies, is this not the right time to take advantage of that, do the right thing and scrap this nuclear obsession?

I just cannot agree with the hon. Gentleman. He might make good headlines, but he knows that we should pride ourselves on having a diverse, low-cost energy system. We have to deliver energy security, and those thousands of highly skilled nuclear jobs, which are increasingly going to women, are a really good thing for the UK.