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Industry gives qualified backing to May speech

Fri 12 Jan 2018 by David Foxwell

Industry gives qualified backing to May speech
Theresa May highlighted the UK’s leading position in offshore wind but did not mention other cheap forms of renewable energy such as onshore wind

Industry associations have welcomed a speech by UK Prime Minister Theresa May launching the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan, but would like to see an even greater focus on renewables.

In the speech, the prime minister noted that economies at all stages of development are embracing new low-carbon technologies and a more efficient use of resources to move onto a path of clean and sustainable growth.

“Our Industrial Strategy puts harnessing the economic potential of the clean growth revolution at its heart, as one of its four grand challenges,” said Mrs May. “From how we generate power, and transport people and goods, to our industrial processes and how we grow our food – new clean technologies have the potential to deliver more good jobs and higher living standards. The UK is already home to around half a million jobs in low carbon businesses and their supply chain. We are a world-leader in the manufacture of electric vehicles. We are the biggest offshore wind energy producer in the world.”

Responding to the speech, Scottish Renewables’ deputy chief executive Jenny Hogan saidThe prime minister’s speech reaffirmed the government’s commitment to decarbonisation and provided some much-needed context on the scale of the transformation which is underway in our energy system.

“2017 saw the UK’s first day without coal power and government forecasts this week have shown our reliance on fossil fuels is expected to decrease faster than expected because of the continued deployment of renewables. It is right that the prime minister should also acknowledge the UK’s world lead in offshore wind, which as a sector has proven how far costs can fall with access to competitive auction process.

“Clean growth is at the heart of the government’s Industrial Strategy and its Cost of Energy Review concluded in October that renewables are the ‘new conventionals’ of energy generation.

“The time is now right to provide industry with certainty on its future plans for all renewable energy technologies – most pressingly onshore wind and large-scale solar, our cheapest sources of power, which remain largely locked out of the energy market following UK government policy changes in 2015.”

RenewableUK’s chief executive Hugh McNeal said “Theresa May is right to put the environment at the top of her government’s agenda, with action on issues like reducing plastic waste. The greatest threat to our natural environment comes from climate change. Ramping up our use of cheap renewable power, such as new onshore wind, is the cheapest and most effective way of tackling this.

“Government must move faster and further on practical measures to protect the environment. Green policies are particularly popular among younger voters, with the government’s own opinion polls showing that 79% of voters under 45 support developing new onshore wind and just 3% oppose it. As the cheapest option for new power, new onshore wind in the right place can make a huge contribution to protecting our environment.”

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