Comment Editor James Konn discusses where the UK’s energy policy has gone wrong and the need to change it immediately

Written by James Konn
Images by Thomas Reaubourg

We are in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis and a climate crisis. Inflation is over 11%. The price of energy has almost doubled in a year. Some of this could have been avoided, but consistent wrong decisions by the Tories have helped worsen these crises. The damage is done but we can do something for our future. Our families need it. Our planet needs it. 

Our planet needs it

Since 2014 there has been a virtual ban on new onshore wind projects in the UK.  The ECIU has said that the ban on new onshore wind could be adding £800m onto fuel bills this winter, approximately £40 per household. This is not a huge figure, but my argument is this is only one of the areas in energy policy where the Government has gone wrong. According to some reports, the Government is moving on this issue.

What baffles me is why this was never the policy originally.  Some communities may object to wind farm construction near them but for the ones that support it, what is the harm? The public is overwhelmingly in support of new onshore wind construction so the move to free up the restrictions on new projects makes political sense too. I just hope the Government makes the right choice. 

More savings could have been made through greater insulation of our homes. The Government introduced the Green Homes Grant to subsidise new heat pumps and insulation for homes in 2020, but it was scrapped in 2021 and has had no replacement. The old scheme failed and so it was right to replace it or severely modify it, but leaving us with no scheme is wrong. This urgently needs to be addressed. The UK leads the pack in poor insulation in Europe and this undoubtedly adds considerable costs to household bills and the amount of energy consumed in the UK. Unfortunately, families are not able to afford the insulation needed for their homes, which is why the government must step in. 

The UK leads the pack in poor insulation

The third area which is now getting the attention it needs is nuclear energy. Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister at the time, infamously talked down the use of nuclear energy. This approach has bitten us on the backside as we now have to build the nuclear power stations for the future instead of currently reaping the benefits of a project that could have been started earlier. Sizewell C has been announced, which is a welcome addition to our energy infrastructure, but further investment must be made in nuclear energy. Nuclear energy is wrongly a controversial issue. It produces clean energy and it is not as dangerous as it is perceived. So let’s build more. 

The past is already done, but it is never too late to implement these energy policies. Let the current cost of living crises be a wake-up call to politicians. 

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