Labour vow to nationalise energy grid in bid to tackle climate change

Written by John Johnston on 16 May 2019 in News

Returning national grid to public ownership would give government more tools to decarbonise energy, Labour will say.

Pylons - Brian Smith

Labour are set to unveil fresh plans to renationalise the energy grid in a "dramatic" bid to tackle climate change.

The radical shake-up would see the UK's entire £60bn energy network stripped from private investors in an effort to drive down energy costs and improve investment in renewable technology.

Shadow Energy Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey will announce the plans later today which would see the FTSE 100 giant National Grid replaced with a series of state controlled bodies as part of a "green industrial revolution".

 

Instead, a new National Energy Agency would be tasked with leading decarbonisation efforts in a bid to hit Labour's climate goals of 60% renewable energy by 2030 as well as treating access to heat and electricity as a "human right".

Meanwhile, 14 Regional Energy Agencies would be handed statutory responsibility for reducing fuel povery and expanding access to affordable energy, while Jeremy Corbyn is expected to commit to installing solar panels on two million homes.

Speaking in Yorkshire later today, Ms Long-Bailey will accuse energy bosses of "insult and injustice" for banking almost £13bn in dividends over the past five years instead of investing in renewables.

"Climate change represents a risk to our future, but also an opportunity to gather our resources and transform it through a Green Industrial Revolution," she will say.

"That means dramatic, public driven and coordinated action, without which we simply will not be able to tackle climate change.

“So our plans see climate justice and social justice as inseparable. It’s an insult and an injustice to our people and our planet for companies operating the grid to rip customers off, line the pockets of the rich and not invest properly in renewable energy."

A National Grid spokesperson hit out at the plans, saying they would be an "enormous distraction" from attempts to tackle climate change.

“National Grid is one of the most reliable networks in the world, we are also at the heart of the decarbonisation agenda," they said.

“Only a few days ago we broke the record for the longest period of time the country has gone without coal generation.

They added: “At a time when there is increased urgency to meet the challenges of climate change the last thing that is needed is the enormous distraction, cost and complexity contained in these plans.

Tory MP Chris Philp said: "Corbyn's ideological plan for the state to seize these companies would cost an eye-watering £100bn and saddle taxpayers with their debts. It would leave politicians in Westminster in charge of keeping the lights on and leave customers with nowhere else to turn.

"With no credible plan for how Labour would pay for this, more borrowing and tax hikes would be inevitable.

"Through measures like our energy price cap, the Conservative Government will continue to protect people from unfair bill rises while increasing renewable electricity to a record high."

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