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Britain’s energy cost crisis and the Mad Hatter’s Tea-Party of Westminster

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NZW Statement

Responding to the front-page news that Boris Johnson and Liz Truss are both supporting the lifting of the so-called “ban” on onshore wind in the UK, Net Zero Watch today described the Westminster energy debate as a “rationality-free zone”.

Since becoming Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has, against logic and all evidence, re-imposed the ban on exploring the vast potential of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas and oil in the UK, a thermodynamically competent fuel that could reinforce UK security of supply and, by giving UK markets a domestic option, reduce the price of imported gas. His chancellor, Mr Hunt, has imposed a windfall tax on energy companies, including those that Britain needs most such as oil, gas and nuclear, that will discourage investment for decades unless it is swiftly reversed.

The Prime Minister’s critics within his own party are no better. Led by Simon Clarke MP, but now joined by the ex-Prime Ministers, Johnson and Truss, some Conservatives are supporting a renewed drive for onshore wind, apparently believing the absurd industry propaganda claims that wind power is cheap. As is well known in the markets, but not apparently understood at all in Westminster, wind both on and offshore is extremely expensive, with stubbornly high capital costs and rising operational costs, to say nothing of system management costs to address its uncontrollable variability.

Meanwhile, the Opposition front bench, notionally led by Sir Keir Starmer, but in fact driven by the radical views of Ed Miliband, are promising to nationalise the energy sector and call it GB Energy, freeze energy bills and pay for the cost by taxes on oil and gas companies, while quadrupling offshore wind (to about 40 GW, up from 11 operational today) and doubling onshore wind (up to 28 GW from 14 operational today).

Dr John Constable, NZW’s Director of Energy, said:

The intellectual quality of the UK energy policy debate is a disgrace to parliament, revealing both the ignorance and folly of elected representatives. Like Alice in Wonderland it is utterly surreal nonsense; but, unlike Lewis Carroll’s masterpiece, it isn’t funny. The British people deserve better.”