Speaking at the Labour Party Conference, Barry Gardiner MP, Shadow Energy Minister said:
“Before he was sacked, George Osborne managed to pass what he proudly referred to as “the most generous tax regime for shale gas anywhere in the world”. Well that will change under Labour.”
The MP told the conference that there are technical problems with fracking which give rise to real environmental dangers. However, technical problems could be overcome and on their own were not a good enough reason to ban fracking.
“The real reason to ban fracking is that it locks us into an energy infrastructure that is based on fossil fuels long after our country needs to have moved to clean energy.”
“And we will consult with our colleagues in industry and the Trade Unions about the best way to transition our energy industry to create the vital jobs and apprenticeships we are going to need for the UK’s low-carbon future.”
He went on to explain that the next Labour government would launch a new programme called ‘Repowering Britain’ which would build on the innovation and leadership of 70 Labour Councils who have already committed to run their towns on 100 per cent clean energy by 2050.
UK must localise way energy is produced and stored
According to the Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade, the UK needs to localise the way energy is produced and stored, with people earning from the energy they produce on their rooftop solar or their community wind turbines, not just consuming what the Big Six sell.
“We need to create smart networks and local grids to make energy work to pay people rather than people working to pay their energy bills.” He said.
He also said a new Labour government would legislate to force the energy companies to put customers on their cheapest tariff and to tell them if they could get a better deal elsewhere.
The announcement has already provoked a mixed response – GMB, the union for energy workers, has slammed the speech calling for an end to fracking in the UK.
Gary Smith, GMB Scotland Secretary, said:
“Britain needs gas. The first fracked gas from America arrives tomorrow at Grangemouth. Carting gas across oceans is not good from the environment and not good for security of supply in the UK.”
“Given we will need gas to heat our homes and power industry, the question is therefore where are we going to get our gas from. We are increasingly going to be dependent on regimes fronted by henchmen, hangmen and headchoppers for the gas we need. That isn’t ethical and is surely an abdication of our environmental and moral responsibilities.”
In contrast, environmental campaigning organisation Greenpeace UK has welcomed the proposed ban. Hannah Martin, Energy Campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said –
“It’s encouraging to see some politicians have noticed that the energy industry is undergoing some changes. With opposition to fracking an all-time high across the country, this ban on an unproven and inexperienced industry will be widely welcomed.”
“But the really forward-looking part of this announcement is the democratisation of energy. Support for community energy schemes can empower the people of Britain to take back control from the stranglehold of the Big Six, and choose cleaner and increasingly cheaper energy than the fracked gas and nuclear reactors being pushed by the government.”