The Tory part of the Coalition is beginning to recognise some painful truths, but it is time for the Coalition to tear up its energy policy before the lights go out.
With the worst snow conditions in the country since 1981, it’s worrying, to say the least, that gas supplies are running low. A month ago, The Sunday Telegraph warned in this column of the problems of an energy policy that puts expensive, inefficient green power before coal-fired and nuclear power. There have been a few signs that the Coalition is at last turning its attentions to the issue but, still, not nearly enough has been done. Now we are reaping the consequences. Because of a misguided faith in green energy, we have left ourselves far too dependent on foreign gas supplies, largely provided by Russian and Middle Eastern producers. Only 45 per cent of our gas consumption comes from domestic sources. All it takes is a spell of bad weather, and the closure of a gas pipeline from Belgium, to leave us dangerously exposed, and to send gas prices soaring. Talk of rationing may be exaggerated, but our energy policy is failing to deal with Britain’s fundamental incapacity to produce our own power.
Ed Davey, the Energy Secretary, may have granted planning permission this week to a new nuclear power station, Hinkley Point in Somerset. But one nuclear power station, with two new reactors, isn’t nearly enough. Moreover, it will take a decade to build and, even then, will only provide seven per cent of the country’s energy needs.
It is time for the Coalition to tear up its energy policy before the lights really do go out. The first priority must be to repeal the Climate Change Act of 2008, with its brutal, punishing targets: reducing carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, and 26 per cent by 2020. These targets have already had a disastrous effect, forcing the closure of coal-fired power stations, and increasing tax-funded subsidies on wind power. Next month, electricity bills will soar even higher, thanks to a new tax on carbon dioxide produced by coal-fired and gas-fired power stations.