GMB criticises Jeremy Corbyn energy plan, saying 'wishful thinking doesn't generate the power we need'

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 8 September 2016 in News

Jeremy Corbyn pledges to generate 65 per cent of UK energy from renewable sources by 2030

Jeremy Corbyn - credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire/Press Association Images

The GMB has criticised Jeremy Corbyn’s plan to generate 65 per cent of UK energy from renewable sources by 2030, telling the Labour leader “wishful thinking doesn't generate the power we need to heat homes, keep the lights on and the economy functioning”.

As part of his campaign to be re-elected as Labour leader, Corbyn outlined plans to ban fracking, re-establish the Department of Energy and Climate Change and create 300,000 jobs in the renewables sector.

He also promised to phase out coal-fired power stations and introduce a national home insulation programme to insulate at least four million homes to energy efficiency standard B or C.


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But the GMB criticised plans to move away from gas and nuclear-powered energy.

Justin Bowden, GMB national secretary, warned that over the last 12 months there were 57 days when wind was supplying ten per cent or less of the installed and connected wind capacity to the grid.

Writing in the Guardian, Corbyn said: “In order to deliver clean, affordable heating and electricity we need to change the whole system of energy supply. When energy is driven by the needs of people, it will be greener – because saving the planet is in the interests of everyone.

“That is why I am today announcing a bold new set of policies which will pioneer a democratic, community-led system of energy supply. Over the course of the next parliament, we will use public investment and legislation to promote the creation of over 200 local energy companies, giving towns, cities and localities the powers they need to drive a clean, locally accountable energy system with public, not-for-profit companies.”

Corbyn said he would use a £500bn national investment programme, with a national investment bank and a network of regional development banks, to ensure that new renewable jobs would be created where they were needed most.

But Bowden said the union “looks forward to examining” how Corbyn’s plans would meet UK energy demands.

He said: “Everyone gets how - over time - renewable energy sources have an important role to play in a sensibly conceived mixed energy policy. However wishful thinking doesn't generate the power we need to heat homes, keep the lights on and the economy functioning; this means that until there are technological breakthroughs in carbon capture or solar storage then gas and nuclear power are the only reliable, low-carbon shows in town for all those days when the sun doesn't shine and the wind doesn't blow.

“Limiting the UK's options on achieving energy self-sufficiency by proposing an outright ban on fracking is naive and short-sighted. Gas is four times cheaper than electricity, the main reason why over 80 per cent of homes use gas for heating, and access to gas is a key part of every fuel poverty strategy.

“While we are waiting with our fingers crossed for the technology to arrive, or quadrupling the size of the electricity infrastructure and asking everyone with a gas boiler to rip it out and replace it with an electric one, we should not be having to depend on Russia, Qatar, Kuwait or some combination of these regimes to supply us with gas to heat our homes and supply the gas for our crucial chemicals industry.”

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