Amber Rudd on Wednesday became the first Conservative energy secretary in a quarter of a century to outline her own vision for how Britain should power itself. In doing so, she reached even further back for inspiration — to 1982, and Lord Lawson’s moves to break up the nationalised energy monopolies.
Amber Rudd: UK Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change
She told an audience in central London: “[Lord Lawson’s approach] is the Conservative way: allowing markets to flourish . . . [with] competition keeping prices as low as possible.”
For green activists, who have watched in dismay as ministers have slashed subsidies to renewables, the comparison was worrying. Lord Lawson has been at the forefront of attempts to water down action on climate change, arguing it is too expensive.
He will have been delighted by one aspect of Ms Rudd’s speech — she announced that renewables operators would have to pay more to reflect the costs of building back-up power in case they are not running.
However, not everything she announced was about removing government from energy policy.
Under her plans, coal power plants will be shut down by 2025 unless they can be fitted with carbon capture and storage before then.