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Christopher Booker: Green Taxes Will Mean Sky-High Prices For Dirt-Cheap Energy

Christopher Booker, The Daily Telegraph

The go-ahead for fracking should bring us falling energy bills, but instead we will see them soar. 

Pieces of shale at Cuadrilla Resources' fracking plant near Preston, Lancashire

Pieces of shale from the fracking plant near Preston, Lancs Photo: GUZELIAN

A telling moment on Thursday’s Today programme neatly exposed the schizophrenic mess the Government is getting into over one of the most far-reaching issues of our time. The excitement of the day was the laborious statement whereby Ed Davey, our Energy Secretary, announced that he has been dragged very reluctantly into giving the go-ahead to “fracking” for shale gas.

It is hilarious how the shale gas revolution has pulled the rug from beneath all that green ideology which has been driving government policy to the point where we seem doomed to watch our energy bills soar through the roof – that is, if we can see at all after our lights have gone out.

The green obsessives who have hijacked our energy policy hate the very idea of shale gas. All the fraudulent calculations of the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), and its shadowy guru, the Committee on Climate Change, rest on the assumption that energy from fossil fuels must become so expensive that it will eventually make the windmills and solar panels they dream of look competitive. Even Mr Davey, though, has grudgingly conceded that we will actually rely even more heavily on gas to keep our lights on when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining (which is, on average, about three-quarters of the time).

So, when faced with the prospect of gas becoming very much cheaper (as in the US, where its price has more than halved in four years), they lash out with every kind of make-believe allegation about how fracking will cause earthquakes, pollute our water supplies and ruin the countryside. It’s a last desperate attempt to fight off the most serious threat yet to the grand plan for railroading Britain into a “low carbon” future.

Which brings us back to that moment on Thursday when, in its own relentless campaign to promote the “green agenda”, the BBC wheeled on David Kennedy, chief official of the Climate Change Committee (a man so green that even David Cameron recently had to veto his appointment to become the permanent head of DECC). After trotting out the usual tired propaganda against shale gas, Kennedy was challenged by John Humphrys over the rising energy bills we can expect to pay for our “low carbon” future. He did admit that by 2020 they might have risen by £100 a year – “but after that,” he said, “the increases will be very limited”.

What Kennedy omitted to mention (and Humphrys failed to pick him up on) was that, from next April, the Government will be imposing its swingeing new “carbon tax” on every ton of CO2 emitted by producing electricity from fossil fuels, rapidly rising from £16 a ton to £70 by 2030. In all the media’s obsession with how fast our energy bills are rising, this is scarcely ever mentioned. But this tax alone will add billions a year to our bills. Within 17 years, it will be well on the way to doubling them. And of course it will apply just as much to electricity from shale gas as it will to that produced by the coal-fired power stations, currently producing nearly half our electricity, which the Government wants to drive out of business as soon as possible.

So, at just the time when the Government reluctantly holds out to us the prospect that the gas we will need to keep our lights on might become very much cheaper, it will be imposing this new tax to make it very much more expensive, thus cancelling out much of the financial benefit shale gas could bring us. The very failure of Mr Kennedy and the BBC to mention this underlines, yet again, just how insane our energy policy has become.

The Sunday Telegraph, 16 December 2012