Lincolnshire’s onshore wind turbines and prime fields of solar panels prove the case for energy policy reform, Matt Warman MP told Parliament this week.
Speaking in the debate on the Government’s Energy Bill on Monday 18th January, Matt highlighted how a broken subsidy market has resulted in grade 1 agricultural land being used for solar panels rather than growing crops, while neighbouring MP Victoria Atkins (Louth and Horncastle) added that the area’s landscape is also scarred by over 40 wind turbines which have been subsidised by the public. Agreeing with Miss Atkins, Matt said such purposes cannot be the best use of either outstanding countryside or prime land, and said it was essential that the Government balanced the need for increased use of renewable energy with making the industry sustainable.
The Energy Bill will reform windfarm subsidies in the UK, ensuring that no new onshore windfarms will receive any public money. It will also bring in measures to give communities the final say in whether new onshore windfarms can be built in their area, so they can only go ahead with the agreement of local people.
Matt also noted the need for stable and effective regulation in the energy sector, in particular for oil and gas industries, welcoming the Energy Bill’s creation of an independent Oil and Gas Authority. The new body will provide the regulation necessary to maximise the UK’s oil and gas reserves and help to safeguard this vital industry, which supports over 375,000 jobs across the country.
After the debate, Matt said, “The area around Skegness is a prime example of what can happen when energy policy goes wrong, having been propped up by public subsidies for too long. While renewable energy plays an important part in providing the UK with the mix of energy sources we need to keep the lights on, we must have policies which work in the interest of those who live in the local area. While some solar farms can be useful, and include grazing for livestock, many have arisen simply because of irresponsibly balanced subsidies. Renewable energy developments must be able to stand on their own feet rather than relying on public funding. I am pleased that the Energy Bill will address these issues and help to secure a stable future for our energy supplies, at the lowest possible cost to bill payers. In the course of the debate I invited the Deputy Speaker to book his family’s summer holiday in Skegness, so he can see the need for reformed energy subsides for himself, by looking both at our successful offshore wind farms and our sometimes absurd solar farms.”
Matt’s speech can be read in full via the following link: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201516/cmhansrd/cm160118/debtext/160118-0003.htm#16011817000124