MP criticises energy plans

Hartlepool MP Iain Wright.
Hartlepool MP Iain Wright.

HARTLEPOOL MP Iain Wright believes the Government’s energy-saving plans are a “wasted opportunity” that do not match the ambitions of the region.

Mr Wright said there was nothing in the Government’s Energy Bill to provide businesses in the field with the confidence to push ahead with large-scale investment.

He added that uncertainty about a promised green investment bank and delays to build giant offshore wind farms were causing concern and said the UK had fallen from 3rd to 13th in the world for investment in green growth.

The Labour MP highlighted other supposed weaknesses including energy investment in the pipeline in the North East, worth £6bn over the next decade, being less than other nations.

The warning from the town’s MP came as the Bill cleared its first House of Commons hurdle.

Mr Wright said: “I do not see the ambitions of my area, Hartlepool and Teesside, matched by the Government’s actions in the Bill.

“The rhetoric is often positive and encouraging, but the Bill demonstrates that the Government are merely providing warm words.

“I cannot stress this enough. We would miss the opportunity of our generation if we failed to grasp the huge potential that this country, not least my constituency and region, possesses.

“I fear that in five, 10 or 15 years time we in this House will be reflecting on how we could have been pioneers of a noble and groundbreaking world industry, but are instead rueing the loss of jobs, ambition, wealth, social equality and climate stability.”

The Bill, which has been hailed by Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat Energy Secretary, as the most comprehensive energy-saving plan in the world, will set up the Green Deal, offering financial help to families and firms to make energy efficiency improvements.

Mr Wright said it was difficult to oppose in principle the Bill which intends to “increase energy efficiency, improve energy security and ensure greater competitiveness for energy companies in the UK” but feared it was a wasted opportunity.

He said it “treads water” to such an extent that British industry could be left behind by other countries with the poorest households in society facing massive increases in their fuel bills over the next few years but wont be helped quickly enough.

The town’s MP also spoke of the huge potential in Hartlepool and the wider Tees Valley area to lead the way in modern energy production and distribution thanks to its “highly skilled and flexible” workforce at firms including JDR Cables, Heerema Hartlepool and Tata Tubes.

l The MP writes: Page 31