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As ever, it is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Bailey. I congratulate my right hon. Friend Caroline Flint on securing this timely and important debate. It should surprise no one in the House that she has continued to throw her considerable energy and expertise into this area, both as a Back Bencher and as chair of Labour’s Back-Bench energy and climate change committee.
The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change will no doubt have hoped to prop up investor confidence in her “reset” speech last week. She was right to hope for such a response, because clean energy developers are going bankrupt and investors are fleeing the UK. However, I suspect that she may have been disappointed. As my right hon. Friend said, EY’s most recent renewable energy country attractiveness index, published in September, is a damning indictment of this Government’s record on clean energy and the power that they have unleashed to scare off investment and the jobs that come with it. In November 2013, the UK was fourth in the world for investor confidence. In February 2014, we fell to fifth; in May 2014, to sixth; in September 2014, to seventh; in March 2015, to eighth; and two months ago, we fell to 11th—outside the top 10 for the first time in a decade. I can see why the Secretary of State was hoping for a reset.
Boosting investor confidence and achieving clean energy security will require more than warm words. Rhetoric does of course matter, and this Government have thrown their fair share against renewables, but investors pay attention to policy. They put their money where they believe that there is a stable regulatory framework. That cannot be said of the UK market at the moment. Wave after wave of policies have deterred investors and confused consumers. The Government claim that affordability is king, yet the main focus of their attacks has been on onshore wind and solar—the two cheapest large-scale renewable technologies. EY calls that
“policy-making in a vacuum, with no rationale or clear intent.”
That lack of confidence does not exist in isolation. It seeps into other sectors, such as CCS and offshore wind. Investors will naturally think, “If the most cost-effective and proven technologies are being attacked, surely we will be next.”