Queen's Speech 2012: Energy Market Overhaul To 'Bridge Energy Gap'

09/05/2012 13:11

An overhaul of the electricity market set out in the Queen's Speech aims to drive massive investment in low carbon power and bridge the looming energy gap.

Keeping the lights on as old coal and nuclear power plants are shut down in the next decade will require pouring £110 billion into energy supplies and the grid - more than double the current rate of investment - the Government has warned.

And the UK has legally-binding targets to meet on cutting greenhouse gas emissions and boosting renewables.

The Energy Bill will reform the electricity market to introduce long-term contracts that pay a steady rate of return for energy over the lifetime of new low-carbon generators.

The reforms aim to overcome the high capital cost of building nuclear power plants or offshore wind.

The Government also claims the move will reduce expected rises in energy bills by around £40 by 2030, so that the average bill will increase by £160 instead of the £200 rise predicted if the market were left as it is.

But MPs have suggested the system will work for nuclear but not for low carbon power such as offshore wind, and warned the plans amount to a subsidy for new nuclear reactors, something the Government has pledged not to provide.

And despite the planned reforms, efforts to create a nuclear renaissance have stalled, with E.ON and RWE npower pulling out of a venture in March to develop new power plants at Wylfa in North Wales and Oldbury-on-Severn, Gloucestershire.

The Energy Bill will also introduce an emissions performance standard to prevent construction of new coal plants which produce too much carbon dioxide.

Jim Footner, head of Greenpeace's climate and energy campaign, said: "People normally dread energy bills, which have been soaring due to rocketing gas prices. But the Energy Bill announced today by the Queen could actually save people money.

"It can do this by taking the side of the bill-payer, and not the side of energy companies like Centrica, who want us to fork out for expensive gas imports and nuclear energy.

"Our household budgets just can't afford a new dash for imported gas nor for nuclear reactors which are going to cost at least £7 billion each." He added that the Energy Bill must back renewable power and energy efficiency.

Friends of the Earth's executive director Andy Atkins said: "The Prime Minister must resist pressure from fringe elements within his party to 'lurch to the right' on energy - 85% of the public back moves to invest in clean British energy from the sun, sea and wind.

"The Prime Minister must honour his pledge to lead 'the greenest Government ever' and seize this once-in-a-generation opportunity to make our power system cleaner, more affordable and less reliant on increasingly imported fossil fuels."

09/05/2012 16:59 BST

Labour was 'hyper-active', according to George Eustice

Conservative MP George Eustice has told the BBC that the problem with Labour was its "hyper-active legislation"

"They spent ages bringing in bills that were badly thought through sand then they needed to use sessions to undo what they’d done and reverse the mistakes they’d made," he said.

“I think this government had a full session, a very long session – two years – some very big pieces of legislation went though, and I actually think it’s right that you don’t just jam the programme with endless legislation for the sake of it.”

09/05/2012 16:24 BST

Zac Goldsmith fears retreat on MP recall

The government has been accused of quietly rowing back on political reform by omitting plans to introduce the power to recall MPs mid-term from the Queen's Speech.

Tory backbencher Zac Goldsmith questioned why a Bill was not mentioned in the list of legislation announced on Wednesday morning.

"So where was the promised Recall Bill in the Queen's speech? How can Government expect to 'rebuild trust' if it so casually drops key promises?" he said.

09/05/2012 16:07 BST

Is Cameron saying lobbying reform has been delayed till next year?

@ ChrisMasonBBC :

David Cameron dismisses lack of bill on lobbying in the Queen's Speech, saying there will be another Queen's Speech next year.

09/05/2012 16:03 BST

PM: My government is doing what this country needs

The Prime Minister has mounted a robust defence of his government in the House Of Commons.

He said:

"This is a government that confronts the long-term challenges that we face, and that is what our country needs. A government that rolls up its sleeves to deal with the deficit, not an Opposition that thinks you can borrow your way out of debt."

"A Coalition government that is determined to unleash the private sector, spread growth around our country, sort out our financial services. Not a Labour one that bloated the public sector, sat back while an unregulated banking sector brought our country to its knees."

"A government that is backing hard-working people, not an Opposition that says it’s on their side but refuses to make work pay, refuses to cap welfare and wants to heave debts onto our children."

"This is a government that is taking the tough decisions to help families who work hard and do the right thing. Acting for the long term, governing in the national interest, this is a Queen’s speech to rebuild Britain, and I commend it to the House."

09/05/2012 15:53 BST

Graham Jones MP says Cameron is 'dying on his feet' in the Commons

@ GrahamJones_MP :

Cameron dying on his feet talking about the Queens Speech. Uninspiring. Punch drunk from the omnishambles.

09/05/2012 15:48 BST

Andrew Gwynne MP thinks Cameron is just waffling...

@ GwynneMP :

The PM's response to the Queen's speech debate is waffle. Ed M is obviously still buzzing from the elections. He was at his very best today!

09/05/2012 15:41 BST

Chi Onwurah MP attacks Cameron's 'emptiness'

@ ChiOnwurah :

@Ed_Miliband really nailed the emptiness of a Queen's Speech which doesn't mention jobs & does nothing to create them

09/05/2012 15:35 BST

Cameron summarises his government's agenda...

"It is about a government taking the tough long-term decisions to restore our country to strength, dealing with the deficit, rebalancing the economy and rewarding people who do the right thing."

09/05/2012 15:35 BST

Cameron defends the 'Snoopers' Charter'

Speaking in Parliament, the Prime Minister has defended proposals that have caused controversy for their apparent invasiveness.

“What we are trying to do here is not look at the content of people’s telephone calls, but just to update the measures for finding out who called who and when

“I say to people, of course let’s look at the detail, but I don’t want to be the Prime Minister standing at this despatch box saying ‘we could have done more on terrorism’.”

09/05/2012 15:22 BST

Miliband - endorsing Nadine Dorries?

@ IanDunt :

Miliband wants Nadine Dorries on the government's remuneration committee http://t.co/y9vH2Nro #QueensSpeech

State Opening Of Parliament 2012
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