Energy Bill [Lords]

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:47 pm on 18th January 2016.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of James Cartlidge James Cartlidge Conservative, South Suffolk 7:47 pm, 18th January 2016

The Scottish Government will have the power to raise tax. They can do that and say to the Chancellor, “We are extremely worried about the crisis hitting our countrymen and countrywomen. We will contribute to a fund to reduce the tax rates on North sea oil.” What is so controversial or naive about that? We had all that passion from the SNP at the referendum about Scotland. Now that we have a crisis in Scotland, what are the SNP Government doing about it? They have a duty to pull their finger out, put their hand in their pocket and step up to the breach.

On the subject of devolution, we also have devolution in England. I have a question for my Front-Bench colleagues. There is an important measure in the Bill on planning and onshore wind. The result of the Bill is that power will go to local people, but I ask the Minister what will happen if a combined Suffolk and Norfolk authority has strategic economic powers. Will that take over the planning powers that will be devolved to local authorities under the measure in the Bill? That is a question about the impact of the measure and English devolution.

As in other constituencies, there have been significant cases in my constituency. In the run-up to the general election, there was a major case of a wind turbine in Pannington farm in Wherstead, near the famous “Jimmy’s Farm” of BBC TV fame. I am pleased to say that it was soundly rejected by Babergh District Council, with great support from the affected communities of Pinewood, Belstead and Wherstead in the northern part of my constituency bordering Ipswich. Of course, those communities will very much welcome the measures in the Bill.

On the subject of planning, several hon. Members, including Lisa Nandy, asked this question: if communities have a say in onshore wind, why should the same not apply to fracking? I see the point they make, but that planning currently rests with the minerals planning authority of the higher authority—in Lancashire, that meant Lancashire County Council. As a result of the time that it is taking, I understand that the decision will eventually go to the Secretary of State.

[

Interruption.

]

Is the hon. Lady trying to intervene?