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Shapps: Not awarding new oil and gas licences is ‘bonkers policy'

Caroline Lucas claimed new oil and gas licences ‘won't deliver energy security' (PA)
Elizabeth Arnold, PA Political Staff

Energy Secretary Grant Shapps has branded a suggestion not to provide new oil and gas licences as “bonkers policy”.

His comments came as Green MP Caroline Lucas (Brighton Pavilion) urged the Government to “rule out” new licences during Commons Energy Security and Net Zero questions.

She said: “New oil and gas licences simply won’t deliver energy security since the oil and gas is sold at global prices on international markets.

“But it would cost the taxpayer dearly while being a disaster for the climate.

“So will the Government finally do what’s needed, rule out new licences and instead commit to measures to genuinely make the UK energy-secure, including a nationwide street-by-street home insulation programme, unblocking onshore wind and installing new solar on every roof?”

Wind farm
The Government was urged to increase use of renewable power sources (PA)

Mr Shapps replied: “We’ve gone from 14% of our homes being insulated under the previous Government to nearly 50%, it will be 50% this year.

“We’ve got an energy taskforce set up to reduce the usage of energy and make it more efficient.

“But I have to say, her party’s policy and the official Opposition’s policy of importing all of the oil and gas that we require by not providing new licences, is simply insane.

“It means that every single family in Britain would be subject to the next tyrant like Putin. It means that the carbon used would be double that which is taken from the North Sea, it is bonkers policy.”

Shadow energy minister Alan Whitehead also accused the Government of having “broken” its promise on onshore wind.

Grant Shapps
Grant Shapps said it would be ‘insane’ to take action which would mean Britain has to import all the oil and gas it needs (PA)

He claimed that two onshore wind turbines have been built since February 2022, adding: “Not much chance of community engagement there, to be honest.”

He added: “The Community Secretary promised that the onshore wind ban would be completely lifted by the end of April this year, so why has the Government broken that promise?”

Minister Andrew Bowie replied: “When they (Labour) left office in 2010 there was less than 7% of renewables on the grid, now it’s 43%.”

Mr Whitehead said: “It’s generally now understood that Government consultation is likely to lead to only minimal relaxation of planning rules and that (onshore wind) will effectively remain banned.”

Mr Bowie replied: “I really do wish that the Labour Party would stop talking down what we are doing on renewable electricity and I would remind the House that consultation on onshore wind finishes on July 7.”