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Christopher Booker: The Deceit At The Heart Of Britain’s Climate Policy

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Christopher Booker, The Sunday Telegraph

The interview in last week’s Sunday Telegraph with Hugh McNeal, the new head of RenewableUK, was remarkable in more ways than one. Certainly readers may have been surprised to know how easily he could switch from being a senior official at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to running our leading lobby group for wind farms. But even more significant was the way he unwittingly exposed what appears to me to be a massive deceit now at the heart of our national energy policy.

We are almost certainly not talking about the possibility of new plants in England. The project economics wouldn’t work; the wind speeds don’t allow for itHugh McNeal

Like DECC, he has bought into the trick of pretending that renewables are now “the cheapest form of new [electricity] generation in Britain”. On the face of it this claim seems ludicrous, since renewables only survive on a tidal wave of subsidies which make them twice or three times as expensive as the fossil fuels which still supply up to 70 per cent of our electricity.

But herein lies the utterly deceitful game DECC is playing. First, they know that George Osborne’s “carbon tax” is gradually intended to make power from fossil fuels as costly as that from wind and solar, so that they can describe these as “subsidy-free”. Secondly, they know they desperately need new gas-fired power stations to keep the lights on when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining. So, thirdly, they are now planning to throw huge bribes at the power companies to get those new gas plants built.

But, fourthly, the bit Mr McNeal didn’t mention, or perhaps does not yet know, they are also aware that because the would-be operators of these power stations know that it is Decc’s policy by 2030 to phase out all fossil-fuel electricity (unless it is made with “carbon capture” technology which is unlikely ever to be invented), it is not going to pay these companies to invest billions in new power plants with such a limited life.

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