Two new Energy Ministers have been appointed to the Department of Energy and Climate Change as part of David Cameron’s restructuring of government positions.
Matt Hancock replaces Michael Fallon as Energy Minister and for Business, Innovation and Skills, Amber Rudd has been appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Climate Change, taking on most of Minister of State Greg Barker’s portfolio.
Both new appointees have strong connections to George Osborne; Matt Hancock was the Chancellor’s former Chief of Staff and Amber Rudd is a former parliamentary aide to Mr Osborne. The suggestion is that the treasury is trying to take a firmer grip on renewable energy spending commitments.
Mr Hancock’s wide-ranging responsibilities include North Sea oil and gas, just days after the Treasury announced a review of the fiscal regime, and overseeing a crucial shale gas and oil licensing round to offer companies fracking rights, which is expected imminently. He is also responsible for nuclear policy, as Britain awaits state aid clearance for the planned Hinkley Point plant, and for renewable energy deployment, amid growing concern about the scale of the government’s spending.
Mr Hancock is a critic of onshore wind turbines. He was one of 101 Conservative MPs to sign a 2012 letter declaring that “in these financially straitened times, we think it is unwise to make consumers pay, through taxpayer subsidy, for inefficient and intermittent energy production that typifies onshore wind turbines.”
Amber Rudd’s responsibilities include the embattled Green Deal and other energy efficiency schemes such as the Energy Company Obligation, which is in the process of being overhauled.
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