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Just what is going on with the UK energy policy?

November 16, 2017 9:22 PM
By Steve Mason in Liberal Democrat Voice
Originally published by South Lincolnshire Liberal Democrats

Wind Turbines (By Barrow_Offshore_wind_turbines.jpg: Andy Dingley derivative work: Papa Lima Whiskey 2 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)Confusion reigns in the corridors of power with contradiction at every turn on the UK's energy needs. Recent reports on the UK's future in clean energy and climate change have flagged the critical need to prioritise low-carbon energy generation and the climate change obligations that the UK must meet by 2030.

Indeed, the report where fracking is discussed briefly mentions it in a minimised capacity, the BEIS released their Gas Security and Supply report, with a strategic analysis on outline energy projections for the coming years in which the Government indicated that shale gas is not needed for energy security and did not include it as a contribution to energy production figures for the UK.

Clean Growth Strategy was also released, with positive talk from the UK government of a low-carbon future for the UK, substituting natural gas with low-carbon gases like biogas and hydrogen. Theresa May stated in the report: "Clean growth is not an option, but a duty we owe to the next generation, and economic growth has to go hand-in-hand with greater protection for our forests and beaches, clean air and places of outstanding natural beauty. "

That all sounds very encouraging… doesn't it?

But this Government is still talking up new fracking proposals, as confirmed by Theresa May at Prime Minister's Questions in October.

Not only would these proposals commit the UK to fossil fuels for decades to come, jeopardising our legally binding commitments to the Paris accord, but they also drive drilling rigs through local democracy. Communities will lose their right to say no to vast areas of the UK being turned into an industrialised gas field - an attack on local democracy that will bring fracking by dictatorship. Bringing it within permitted development would mean no planning application, no environmental impact assessment in most cases and no voice for local people.

Opinion polling in the UK has consistently shown a majority opposed to fracking. The most recent Government poll shows a record low of just 13 per cent of people in favour of fracking. Over 99 per cent of those responding to the Scottish Government's consultation were opposed to fracking. This should give the UK government pause for thought, particularly in light of the 2017 Conservative manifesto commitment to develop the shale industry only "if we maintain public confidence in the process".

Removing local scrutiny would run counter to the Government's stated commitment to localism, as the BEIS Secretary Greg Clark MP told local councils when he was Communities Secretary: "Don't let yourself, any longer, be ruled by someone else." But, by taking away the power of local councils to decide, this is precisely what the Government will be doing.

Liberal Democrats don't want to be the 'dirty man of Europe'; it's time to drop this obsession with fracking for a fossil fuel future and unite behind 'A Vision for Britain - clean, green and carbon free.' Join us at Green Lib Dems and help us contribute to the Liberal Democrats vision for the future.

* Steve Mason joined the Liberal Democrats after the May 2015 General Election and is active in Thirsk and Malton local party.