Ecobuild latest: Labour and the Greens slam the government’s energy record
Labour’s shadow spokesperson for energy in the Lords has slammed the government’s strike price deal with EDF to guarantee the price of electricity generated at the planned Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant for having a “massive destabilising” effect on the energy market.
Speaking at the Ecobuild conference in London, Baroness Worthington, shadow spokesperson for energy and climate change for the House of Lords, said the deal had caused a “crisis of confidence” in the future of energy production in the UK.
Worthington was speaking at a political debate at Ecobuild that pitted the Labour spokesperson against Liberal Democrat energy minister Ed Davey and Green party leader Natalie Bennett.
Commenting on Hinkley Point, Worthington said: “Policies which Conservatives brought in have [resulted in] massive destabilising of the energy market.
“Intervention in the market has dented confidence, for a contract which has yet to be signed. We have become over-obsessed with the delivery of one project.”
Davey defended the government’s position on Hinkley Point, saying: “We haven’t signed an agreement yet, I know as I am the one who has to sign it.”
Worthington also attacked the government’s policy towards fracking as “misguided”, accusing the government of chasing an energy “white elephant”.
Worthington said: “The Conservatives have been completely misguided, they have followed what the US has done and believe that you can use fracking to solve our energy crisis, and look what has happened.
“Badly informed advisors have led to an energy policy which is distorted and unreliable.”
Green party leader Natalie Bennett described the policy of fracking as ‘a fracking fantasy’, adding: “Let me be clear, the next generation of energy production should not include nuclear, or fracking.”
Bennett described the next decade as an “exciting opportunity” for the UK to invest in a new energy infrastructure: “These are opportunities to develop new technologies and industries to become more efficient. Energy efficiency is there, we have just got to do it.”
Bennett said one of the biggest problems the UK has is an inconsistent energy policy: “We keep flip-flopping over different policies, such as the Green Deal, and there’s no consistency.”
Davey said the government was boosting green energy supplies: “We’re looking seriously at offshore wind, tidal lagoons such as the one in Swansea, we are being looked at from abroad as a leader in green energy.”
Worthington also criticised the government’s Green Deal policy: “The Green Deal was rushed in, over-promised and got the fundamentals wrong.”