Following The Conservative Party’s decision to couple up with Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) it’s worthwhile taking a look at their prospective positions on energy as set out in the recent manifestos they released this year. We find that there are some noticeable gaps in their coverage of energy related issues. Both Parties omit to say anything specific on Euratom (European Atomic Energy Community), heating, diesel vehicles, biomass energy and carbon capture and storage, with the DUP in particular falling short on the subjects of fracking, coal, nuclear energy and energy efficiency.
The Conservative Party’s manifesto does, however, include the following key energy areas:
The party claims to have demonstrated their progressive and leading stance on the climate change issue through their decision to ratify the 2017 Paris Agreement. The Government also plans to carry out an independent review of the costs involved in meeting the 2050 aim to reduce carbon based emissions by 80% (on 1990 levels) under the 2008 Climate Change Act.
The Government aims to have the lowest energy costs in Europe for both households and businesses. They say they will introduce a ‘safeguard tariff cap’ that will protect prices for more customers on the poorest value tariffs.
The party intends to establish an industrial energy efficiency scheme while promising to improve the energy performance of all fuel poor homes to EPC band C by 2030.
The Government’s stance on fracking recognises that shale gas is ‘cleaner’ than coal. They promise to change planning law for shale gas production and setup a shale gas environmental regulator. Plans will also go ahead to change the percentage of tax revenues from shale gas through the proposed Shale Wealth Fund, to directly benefit the communities that host the extraction sites.
Regarding civil nuclear energy, they claim to have levels of scrutiny and control.
Their manifesto highlights the benefits of drawing energy from a diverse range of energy sources. However, they only make specific reference to offshore wind, focusing on ways to maintain the UK’s position as world leader in this technology. One of the ways they plan to achieve this aim is by supporting more offshore wind farms in Scotland.
Upgrading infrastructure is included in the manifesto, which also states investment would be carried out in an ‘affordable way’.
Oil and Gas
The Party acknowledges the £300bn tax revenue, and the thousands of jobs the oil and gas sector has generated. They assure that plans will continue to support further investment in the UK’s natural resources within the North Sea. They also promise to develop its decommissioning expertise, as well as making plans to create the UK’s first ultra-deep water port.
The Government wants ‘almost every car and van’ to produce ‘zero emissions’ by 2050. To achieve this aim they promise to invest £600m by 2020. They also promise to invest in low emission buses and mini buses for rural areas, to increase railway capacity and help local authorities expand cycle networks and facilities.
The DUP’s stance on key energy areas:
Internal Energy Market
The DUP support continued progress on the Integrated Single Electricity Market and the North South Interconnector.
The party wants to reduce household bills and support measures to control energy costs. They are opposed to cuts to universal benefits such as the winter fuel allowance.
The DUP would like a new, comprehensive energy strategy that focuses on renewable energy and security of supply for Northern Ireland.
The party plans to pursue strategies that widen electricity generation capacity.
The DUP plans to carry out an investigation into ferry price structures on the North Channel and Irish Sea routes between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. The DUP also favours the abolition of air passenger duty.
The party supports greater interconnection with Great Britain.
Energy expert insights
“The Conservative manifesto’s energy content contains some interesting aims but also some warning signals. Although the long term aim to contribute towards controlling climate change remains — in terms of the Paris Agreement and the Climate Change Act — the cost review for the latter’s 2050/80% reduction goal indicates a possible change in approach.
Alastair Fells MEI, Incorporated Eng, PG Dip Fuel Tech, BSc Hons
“The electrification of transport of all kinds is a heroic ambition which the Government is bent upon. The implications are profound, not least for the car industry, and are now being taken up despite some initial scepticism.”
Prof Ian Fells