Onshore Wind Generating Stations in England and Wales

Part of Energy Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 7:24 pm on 9th May 2016.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change 7:24 pm, 9th May 2016

How does the hon. Gentleman feel about the bill payers and those in fuel poverty? How does he feel about a clear commitment to achieving a certain level of renewables deployment and no further? There must be a balance, and we believe that the right balance has been struck.

The projects that this amendment would allow to access the grace period did not have planning permission as at 18 June last year. Allowing such projects to access the grace period would lead to an increase in deployment, adding more costs to consumer bills. The 18 June 2015 was set out as a clear bright line, and we have continued to maintain the importance of that as a clear cut-off date. Tampering with such an integral part of the early closure policy at such a late stage in the passage of the Bill is simply not on, and it is extremely disappointing that Opposition peers in the other place persist with an approach that will add to consumer bills. Conservative Members are on the side of the consumer. It is our duty as consumer champions to keep costs down, and that is what we will do.

Let us remember that this money comes directly from people’s bills. While Labour Members oppose measures to control costs for families and businesses and to keep bills down, we are clear that we can only expect bill payers to support low-carbon electricity if costs are controlled. If we do not take action and we let subsidies spiral, families and businesses will suffer.

The Government’s policy takes a balanced approach and we have a proven track record on renewable electricity. Last year for the first time ever, renewable sources provided more power over the year than coal, with nearly one quarter of the UK’s electricity generated by renewables. The Government remain committed to the move towards a low-carbon economy in a way that minimises costs to consumers.

This Bill is a key part of the Government’s commitment to the oil and gas industry on the UK continental shelf. At this very challenging time for the oil and gas sector, it is extremely disappointing that the persistent disagreement from the Lords on an unrelated issue is now risking timely implementation of these powers which enjoy the support of both Houses and which are so crucial to the industry at this difficult time.

Our oil and gas industry supports hundreds of thousands of working people and their families. It is vital that the Oil and Gas Authority gets the functions and duties it needs to maximise the economic recovery of the UK’s remaining oil and gas reserves, while building its capacity and capability to attract investment and jobs, and helping to retain valuable skills in the UK. I received an email just this morning from the head of Oil & Gas UK urging me to ensure the safe passage of the Bill at what is a very challenging time for the industry. The need for an independent, robust and effective regulator for the North sea is greater than ever. We cannot afford the loss of confidence that delaying the establishment of the Oil and Gas Authority would generate among existing operators and the regulatory uncertainty it would generate among investors.

The Government and industry share the same ambitions, even if the actions of Opposition Lords have frustrated the timeliness of the OGA’s implementation. The Government want to protect bill payers and ensure technologies stand on their own two feet, while meeting our renewable energy commitments.