Election 2017 - Party Policies on Energy & Climate

With the General Election on 8th June 2017 fast approaching the pressure’s on for each party to get across its policies. We, 2EA®, have reviewed each main parties manifesto and have provided a summary below of each party’s views on UK energy and climate policy.

For this article we are going to be looking at the forerunners of the election which are Labour, The Conservative Party and The Liberal Democrats.

Election Predictions

For a brief summary of the views on energy and climate change of each of the forerunners in the 2017 General Election, highlighting what they will change, what they will add and what they will dispose of please view Election 2017: A Brief Summary of Party Policies on Energy and Climate or for a full summary of each party's intentions please click on the name of a party below.

Conservatives 2017

Energy Costs

The Conservative party feel that a successful industrial strategy requires competitive and affordable energy costs. They want to make sure that the cost of energy in Britain is internationally competitive, both for businesses and households. Therefore, they plan to commission an independent review into the Cost of Energy, which will be asked to make recommendations as to how they can ensure UK energy costs are as low as possible, while ensuring a reliable supply and allowing us to meet our 2050 carbon reduction objective.

They want the UK to have the lowest energy costs in Europe, both for households and businesses. To achieve this, they plan to upgrade the UK’s energy infrastructure. Their belief, that for British companies, an energy-efficient business is a more competitive business. This means that they want to establish an industrial energy efficiency scheme to help large companies install measures to cut their energy use and bills.

The Conservative party promise to give immediate attention to the retail energy market.

They ensure that smart meters will be offered to every household and business by the end of 2020, giving people control over their energy bills and introduce a safeguard tariff cap that will extend the price protection currently in place for some vulnerable customers to more customers on the poorest value tariffs.

They plan to maintain the competitive element of the retail energy market by supporting initiatives to make the switching process easier and more reliable and they vow to improve the energy efficiency of existing homes by committing to upgrading all fuel  poor homes to EPC Band C by 2030 and will also review requirements on new homes.

Renewable Energy

The Conservative party want to see a diverse range of sources for Britain’s energy production, because they believe a diverse energy economy is the best way to stimulate innovation, and also because they want to ensure that we are getting the right generation in the right place. For instance, while they do not believe that more large-scale onshore wind power is right for England, they still maintain our position as a global leader in offshore wind and support the development of wind projects in the remote islands of Scotland, where they will reportedly directly benefit local communities.

“Above all”, they believe that energy policy should be focused on outcomes rather than the means by which we reach our objectives. Upon leaving the European Union, they plan to form their energy policy based not on the way energy is generated but on reliable and affordable energy - seizing the industrial opportunity that new technology presents and meeting the UK’s global commitments on climate change.

Fracking

The Conservative party want to develop shale industry in Britain. However, they are aware that they will only be able to do so if they are able to maintain public confidence in the process, by upholding their rigorous environmental protections, and ensuring the proceeds of the wealth generated by shale energy are shared with the communities affected.

They claim they will legislate to change planning law for shale applications - non-fracking drilling will be treated as permitted development, expert planning functions will be established to support local councils, and, when necessary, major shale planning decisions will be made the responsibility of the National Planning Regime.

They plan to set up a new Shale Environmental Regulator, which will assume the relevant functions of the Health and Safety Executive, the Environment Agency and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Which they hope will provide clear governance and accountability, become a source of expertise, and allow decisions to be made fairly but swiftly.

The Conservative government will allow payments to be made directly to local people themselves and a significant share of the remaining tax revenues will be invested for the benefit of the country at large.

Transport

The Conservative party want Britain to lead the world in electric vehicle technology and use, with ambition to make almost every car and van to be zero-emission by 2050, and plan to invest £600 million by 2020 to help achieve it. They will also invest in more low-emission buses, as well as supporting audio-visual displays for bus passengers and community minibuses for rural areas poorly served by public transport.

The Environment

The Conservative party say “The United Kingdom will lead the world in environmental protection”. They claim they are committed to leaving the environment in better condition than we inherited it and plan to continue to take a lead in global action against climate change.

They endeavour to champion greater conservation cooperation within international bodies, protecting rare species, the polar regions and international waters and work with Overseas Territory governments to create a Blue Belt of marine protection in their precious waters, establishing the largest marine sanctuaries anywhere in the world.

They also believe towns and cities should be healthy, well-designed and well-tended places and plan to take action against poor air quality in urban areas. In addition to the 11 million trees they are planting across our nation, they also vow to ensure that 1 million more are planted in towns and cities, and place new duties on councils to consult when they wish to cut down street trees.

Conventional and Current Energy Infrastructure

The Conservative party claim that the North Sea has “provided more than £300 billion in tax revenue to the UK economy and supports thousands of highly-skilled jobs across Britain”. With this in mind, they have vowed to ensure that the sector continues to play a critical role in the UK’s economy and domestic energy supply and support further investment in the UK’s natural resources.

They want to continue to support the industry and build on the unprecedented support already provided to the oil and gas sector. They believe that, while there are very significant reserves still in the North Sea, it is expected to be the first major oil and gas basin in the world to decommission fully, and want to take advantage of that to support the development of a world-leading decommissioning industry. The Conservative party want to work with the industry to create a multi-use yard and the UK’s first ultra-deep water port to support this industry.

Conservative Manifesto

Labour 2017

Energy Costs

Labour plan to ensure energy costs are affordable for consumers and businesses. They plan to introduce an immediate emergency price cap to ensure that the average dual-fuel household energy bill remains below £1,000 per year, while they transition to a fairer system for bill payers.

They also plan to provide security by investing in a new publicly owned energy provision.

Labour promise to insulate four million homes as an infrastructure priority to help those who suffer in cold homes each winter and provide Interest free loans to improve their property. For renters, Labour will improve on existing Landlord energy efficiency regulations and re-establish the Landlord (energy Saving) allowance to encourage the uptake of efficiency measures.

Renewable Energy

Labour plan to transform our energy systems, investing in new, state-of-the-art low-carbon gas and renewable electricity production and plan to ensure that 60 per cent of the UK’s energy comes from zero-carbon or renewable sources by 2030.

Labour state “the low-carbon economy is one of the UK’s fastest-growing sectors, creating jobs and providing investment across each region. It employed an estimated 447,000 employees in the UK in 2015 and saw over £77 billion in turnover.” They believe that with backing from a Labour government, these sectors can secure crucial shares of global export markets.

Climate Change

Labour plan to put the UK back on track to meet our targets in the Climate Change Act and the Paris Agreement by transitioning to a low-carbon economy.

Labour are also committed to renewable energy projects including tidal lagoons.

Fracking

Labour plan to ban fracking in order to avoid becoming locked into an energy infrastructure based on fossil fuels.

The Environment

Labour believe that they are the only government that will prioritise a sustainable, long-term future for our farming, fishing and food industries, fund robust flood resilience, invest in rural and coastal communities, and guarantee the protection and advancement of environmental quality standards.

Labour will introduce a new Clean Air Act to deal with the “Conservative legacy of illegal air quality”. They plan to safeguard habitats and species in the 94 ‘blue belts’ of the seas and oceans surrounding the UK and will set guiding targets for plastic bottle deposit schemes, working with food manufacturers and retailers to reduce waste.

They also plan to protect our bees by prohibiting neonicotinoids as soon as our EU relationship allows us to do so. They want to work with farmers and foresters to plant a million trees of native species to promote biodiversity and better management stating that “unlike the Conservatives who attempted to privatise our forests, Labour will keep them in public hands”.

A Labour Government also plans to establish a science innovation fund, working with farmers and fisheries, that will include support for our small scale fishing fleet.

Conventional and Current Energy Infrastructure

To ensure security of energy supply and ‘keep the lights on’ they plan to regain control of energy supply networks through the alteration of the National and Regional Network Operator license conditions.

Labour plan to regain control of energy supply networks through the alteration of operator license conditions, and transition to a publicly owned, decentralised energy system. Supporting the creation of publicly owned, locally accountable energy companies and co-operatives to rival existing private energy suppliers, with at least one in every region, legislating to permit publicly owned local companies to purchase the regional grid infrastructure, and to ensure that national and regional grid infrastructure is brought into public ownership over time.

To “safeguard the offshore oil and gas industry”, they plan to provide a strategy focused on protecting vital North Sea assets, and the jobs and skills.

And, in the interest of producing low-carbon energy, will support further nuclear projects and protect nuclear workers’ jobs and pensions.

As part of the Brexit negotiations, Labour plan to prioritise maintaining access to the internal energy market. Labour will also retain access to Euratom, to allow continued trade of fissile material, with access and collaboration over research vital to our nuclear industry

They also plan to replace our “dysfunctional water system” with a network of regional publicly-owned water companies.

Labour Party Manifesto

Liberal Democrats 2017

Energy Costs

The Lib Dems intend to pass a new Green Buildings Act to set new energy-efficiency targets, including a long-term ambition for every home in England to reach at least an energy rating of Band C by 2035. As well as ensuring that at least four million homes are made highly energy efficient (Band C) by 2022, with priority given to fuel-poor households.

They wish to restore the zero-carbon standard for new homes which was set by Liberal Democrats in government and since abandoned by the Conservatives, increasing the standard steadily and extending it to non-domestic buildings by 2022.

They also plan to expand community energy schemes, encourage councils to develop community energy-saving projects and local electricity generation, and promote city-scale demonstration projects in electric vehicles and clean energy.

They vow to continue to back new entrants to the energy market, aiming for at least 30% of the household market to be supplied by competitors to the ‘Big 6’ by 2022.

Renewable Energy

The Lib Dems pledge to expand renewable energy and aim to generate 60% of electricity from renewables by 2030, restoring government support for solar PV and onshore wind in appropriate locations (helping meet climate targets at least cost) and building more electricity interconnectors to underpin this higher reliance on renewables.

They support investment in cutting-edge technologies including energy storage, smart grid technology, hydrogen technologies, offshore wind, and tidal power (including giving the go-ahead for the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon), and investing heavily in research and development.  

Climate Change

The Liberal Democrats credit the European Union for created the highest environmental standards in the world. They, therefore, feel they have a duty to future generations to protect our environment and tackle climate change and will ensure that everything is done to maintain those high standards in UK law, including the closest possible cooperation on climate and energy policy.

The Liberal Democrats intend to pass a Zero-Carbon Britain Act to set new legally binding targets to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2040 and to zero by 2050.

They want to support the Paris agreement by ensuring the UK meets its own climate commitments and plays a leadership role in international efforts to combat climate change.

They plan to set up a British Housing and Infrastructure Development Bank to mobilise investment into the low-carbon and sustainable infrastructure.

Fracking

The Lib Dem party oppose ‘fracking’ because of its “adverse impact on climate change, the energy mix, and the local environment.”

Transport

The Liberal Democrats plan to introduce an Air Quality Plan, to reduce air pollution, aiming to prevent “40,000 deaths a year”.

They also intend to introduce a diesel scrappage scheme, and a ban on the sale of diesel cars and small vans in the UK by 2025 as well as extending ultra-low-emission zones to 10 more towns and cities.

The Liberal Democrats want all private hire vehicles and diesel buses licensed to operate in urban areas to run on ultra-low-emission or zero-emission fuels within five years and plan to reform vehicle taxation to encourage sales of electric and low-emission vehicles and develop electric vehicle infrastructure including universal charging points.

The Environment

The Liberal Democrats want to establish a £2 billion flood-prevention fund focused on providing support for small community and council-led schemes to reduce upstream flooding, and the knock-on effects in downstream and coastal areas, in addition to improving flood defences, and introducing high standards for flood resilience for buildings and infrastructure in flood-risk areas.

They plan to pass a Nature Act to put the Natural Capital Committee (NCC) on a statutory footing, set legally binding natural capital targets, including on biodiversity, clean air and water, and empower the NCC to recommend actions to meet these targets.

They hope to significantly increase the amount of accessible green space, including completion of the coastal path, and create a new designation of national nature parks to protect up to one million acres of accessible green space valued by local communities.

Protecting and restoring England’s lakes, rivers and wetlands, including reform of water management and higher water-efficiency standards is also on their agenda, as well as establishing a ‘blue belt’ of protected marine areas.

They also want to:

  • Reverse the current sharp decline in the rate of woodland creation by aiming to plant a tree for every UK citizen over the next 10 years, and protect remaining ancient woodlands.
  • Suspend the use of neonicotinoids until proven that their use in agriculture does not harm bees or other pollinators.
  • Introduce stronger penalties for animal cruelty offences, increasing the maximum sentencing from six months to five years, and bring in a ban on caged hens.
  • Clamp down on illegal pet imports through legal identification requirements for online sales, and minimise the use of animals in scientific experimentation, including by funding research into alternatives.

Conventional and Current Energy Infrastructure

The Lib Dems accept that new nuclear power stations can play a role in electricity supply provided concerns about safety, disposal of waste and cost are adequately addressed, new technology is incorporated, and there is no public subsidy for new build. They plan to maintain membership of Euratom, ensuring continued nuclear cooperation, research funding, and access to nuclear fuels.

Farming, Food and Agriculture

The Liberal Democrats want to make sure British farming remains competitive and doesn’t lose out in the event of Britain leaving the EU, rebalancing away from direct subsidy and refocusing support towards the public benefits that come from effective land management including countryside protection, flood prevention, food production and climate-change mitigation.

They will ensure that future trade deals require high safety, environmental and animal welfare standards for food imports, including clear and unambiguous country of-origin labelling for meat and dairy products.

They will Introduce a national food strategy to promote the production and consumption of healthy, sustainable and affordable food and increase the powers of the Groceries Code Adjudicator and extend its remit to include businesses further up the supply chain, helping to ensure that farmers receive a fair price.

They also plan to further improve standards of animal health and welfare in agriculture by updating farm animal welfare codes and promoting the responsible stewardship of antibiotic drugs.

Cutting Waste, using resources wisely

The Liberal Democrats want to pass a Zero-Waste Act, including legally binding targets for reducing net consumption of key natural resources, and introducing incentives for businesses to improve resource efficiency.  

They want to establish a statutory waste recycling target of 70% in England and extend separate food waste collections to at least 90% of homes by 2022.

Building on the success of their plastic bag charge, they want to introduce a 5p charge on disposable coffee cups to reduce waste.

They also plan to establish a coherent tax and regulatory framework for landfill, incineration and waste collection, including reinstating the landfill tax escalator and extending it to the lower rate, and consulting on the introduction of an incineration tax.

The Liberal Democrat party will establish a Cabinet Committee on Sustainability, chaired by a cabinet minister, establish an Office for Environmental Responsibility to scrutinise the government’s efforts to meet its environmental targets, and place a responsibility on every government agency to account for its contribution towards meeting climate targets in everything it does.

Liberal Democrat Manifesto

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