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Shropshire MP Owen Paterson warns 'flawed policies' will see lights go out

North Shropshire | News | Published:

The lights will go out in Britain within a generation unless radical changes are made to energy policy and impractical carbon reduction targets are scrapped, North Shropshire MP Owen Paterson has warned.

In a speech to the Global Warming Policy Foundation later this week, the former Environment Secretary will say that the Government's current policies are fatally flawed.

And he is calling for a new approach that abandons the current obsession with renewable forms of electricity generation such as wind power

"The current energy policy is a slave to flawed climate action," said Mr Paterson. "It will cost £1,100bn, fail to meet the very emissions targets it is designed to meet and will not provide the UK's energy requirements.

"In the short and medium term, costs to consumers will rise dramatically, but there can only be one ultimate consequence of this policy: the lights will go out at some time in the future."

Mr Paterson is calling for the suspension of the Climate Change Act and proposes a completely new mix of energy generation that will meet emissions targets and energy requirements. He will give the annual lecture "Keeping the Lights On" to The Global Warming Policy Foundation on Wednesday and will warn that the 2050 target of cutting emissions by 80 per cent requires in a mere 36 years the almost complete decarbonisation of electricity supply.

And he claims that to hit the 80 per cent target Britain will have to scrap virtually all electricity generation from gas and coal.

Governments have presided over the most regressive policy in Britain for hundreds of years in pushing wind power, Mr Paterson said.

In his speech he will also highlight the cost to consumers of renewable subsidies to producers.

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"It amazes me that our last three energy secretaries, Ed Miliband, Chris Huhne and Ed Davey, who all purport to be in favour of helping the poor and not the rich, have merrily presided over the single most regressive policy we have seen in this country since the Sheriff of Nottingham coerced increase of poor people's electricity bills to pay huge subsidies to wealthy landowners and rich investors," said Mr Paterson.

"It is a policy that is nowhere near achieving its objectives and its cost is rising, not falling.

"So what I am proposing is that instead of investing huge sums in wind power, we should encourage investment in four possible common sense policies: shale gas, combined heat and power, small modular nuclear reactors and demand management. That would reduce emissions rapidly, without risking power cuts, and would be affordable."

The speech is Mr Paterson's first significant intervention in the green energy debate since he was sacked as environment secretary during this summer's Cabinet reshuffle. He also suggests that homeowners should get used to temporary power cuts – cutting the electricity to appliances such as fridges for two hours at a time, for example – to conserve energy.

The warning comes days after it was revealed three quarters of those questioned in a survey believed the National Grid's Mid Wales Connection Project will have a negative impact.

Planning inspector Andrew Poulter is set to give his decision at the end of the year on five wind farms in Mid Wales. They involve turbines near Llandrindod Wells, near Newtown, near Llanidloes and two near Machynlleth.

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