MPs warn of ‘dash to gas’

The Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee have warned that the government's proposed energy rules could lead to new 'dash for gas'.

The Committee headed by Tim Yeo MP has published a report on the revised draft National Policy Statements on Energy.

It says that the rules could delay critical investment in renewables and other low carbon technologies, making the UK’s climate change targets impossible to achieve.

Tim Yeo said: “If we want to keep the lights on and create an energy system fit for the future then new rules are needed to fast track energy projects through the UK’s notoriously glacial planning system.

If these new policy statements don’t put the cleanest forms of energy at the top of the agenda they will leave us dangerously dependent on fossil fuels.

The UK’s energy security and our prospects for creating a successful low-carbon economy depend on the Government kick-starting a dash for low-carbon technology, not a new dash for gas.”

The Department for Energy and Climate Change has produced six draft National Policy Statements (NPSs) designed to speed up the planning process for major energy projects. But, says the Committee, this will not prioritise low-carbon generation and renewables over conventional capacity.

The committee sees a continuing role for gas in the shorter term to meet the UK’s energy needs, however, it warns that the development of too much gas capacity could crowd out opportunities for renewables to form a substantial component of the UK’s energy mix.

The MPs also called for more clarity in coordinating developments. Currently, NPS leave it up to the market to decide where the £200 billion of energy sector investments that the Government is hoping for will go.

The report stressed that political certainty is essential for investors who have to make long-term planning decisions.

Responding to the committee report the director general of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), Tom Foulkes, said: “Making investment in renewable energy sources less risky for potential investors is crucial if we are to ensure the UK has a secure and sustainable energy supply in future.

“Government must clearly demonstrate its long-term commitment to low carbon energy generation by setting an effective floor price for carbon and delivering on the principles outlined in the proposed Electricity Market Reform.

“Only then will be able to attract the hefty investment needed and avoid an on-going reliance on fossil fuels.”

Alison Brown

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie