Tories launch blueprint for green future
David Cameron has unveiled Conservative Party plans to decarbonise the UK economy, if elected.
In a live webcast on Friday, January 16, the Tory leader announced the Party’s strategies for creating a low-carbon economy, published in a new green paper.
In the paper’s foreword, Mr Cameron said that a Conservative government would bring about radical economic change by creating “new networks” and “new signals for the market”.
The Conservatives envisage replacing old “dumb” power networks with what they call the “electricity internet”: a so-called smart grid that could manage supply and demand intelligently, with smart meters in people’s homes.
Along with proposed feed-in tariffs, this would encourage people to contribute power from their own low-carbon microgeneration to the grid.
Under the plans, there would be an entitlement for every home to be fitted with up to £6,500 of energy-efficient improvements, the cost to be repaid through fuel bills over a period of up to 25 years.
The Conservatives aim to encourage the introduction of new biogas plants – producing gas from farm and food waste – by changing the regulatory regime for the gas grid and introducing feed-in tariffs for biogas. They would also give local authorities powers to establish new district heating networks for combined heat and power.
The green paper also states that a Conservative government would start work immediately on high-speed rail links, removing the need for a third runway at Heathrow.
Greg Clark, shadow energy and climate change secretary, said that the planned changes would help create hundreds of thousands of jobs and improve Britain’s competitiveness as well as reducing dependence on imported fossil fuels.
Greenpeace executive director John Sauven said that the Conservatives “seem to be taking a leaf out of Obama’s book” in their plan to stimulate the economy by boosting green industries.
He added, however, that Mr Cameron should rule out all “dirty coal fired power stations”, even if that meant cancelling E.ON’s Kingsnorth project.
The CBI applauded the Conservatives’ focus on improving energy efficiency and securing the UK’s energy supply by developing renewable sources alongside clean coal and nuclear.
However, business environment director Neil Bentley said that high-speed rail links alone could not solve Heathrow’s capacity problems, and insisted that a third runway was vital to maintaining the UK’s status as a global international hub.