Weekly News Review - 30th June 2023

Advisers warn UK progress on climate change worryingly slow

A report by the Climate Change Committee (CCC) has warned that the UK has lost its global leadership on climate issues following government backing for new oil and coal as well as its airport expansion plans and slow progress on heat pumps. The committee said it was “markedly” less confident than a year ago that the UK would reach its targets for cutting carbon emissions.

The report also found a number of other factors that have harmed the UK’s net zero progress. The government’s Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme only provided help to 159,600 homes in 2022, less than half of the 383,700 the year before. The lack of progress on the government’s future homes standard also means that houses are still being built that will need to be retrofitted with low carbon heating and efficiency measures.

Transport emissions remain high as the government has allowed for an increase in road traffic instead of encouraging the use of public transport. The committee also warned that the UK should not be planning to expand any existing airports without closures or a reduction in capacity elsewhere.

Outgoing chairman of the CCC, Lord Deben, said: “The lesson of my ten years at the CCC is that early action benefits the people of this country and helps us to meet the challenges of the coming decades more cheaply and more easily. Yet, even in these times of extraordinary fossil fuel prices, the government has been too slow to embrace cleaner, cheaper alternatives and too keen to support new production of coal, oil and gas.”

“There is a worrying hesitancy by Ministers to lead the country to the next stage of net zero commitments. I urge the government to regroup on net zero and commit to bolder delivery. This is a period when pace must be prioritised over perfection.”

A government spokesperson said: “We can be proud of the UK’s record as a world-leader on net zero. We are going far beyond other countries and delivering tangible progress whilst bringing down energy bills with hundreds of pounds coming off bills from next month. With a new department dedicated to delivering net zero and energy security, we are driving economic growth, creating jobs, bringing down energy bills, and reducing our dependence on imported fossil fuels.”

Plan for 112 mile East Anglian power line published

National Grid has published plans for its 112 mile long power line that will run across East Anglia from Norwich to Tilbury in Essex. The network of pylons is required to keep up with the rise in electricity generated from offshore wind farms in the North Sea.

In the past year the government has approved two new offshore wind farms off the Suffolk coast, East Anglia One North (EA1N) and East Anglia Two (EA2). They will add a combined 1.7GW of capacity and will provide enough power for 1.5 million homes. As a result of the increasing offshore capacity, developer Scottish Renewables plans to bring cables onshore near Aldeburgh.

The majority of the power line will run over-ground with a small section underground at the Dedham Vale area of outstanding natural beauty on the Essex-Suffolk border.  The proposals include a new substation in Tendring, near Colchester, to connect offshore wind generation and an interconnector. However, the plans have drawn strong criticism from local residents as well as many MPs and councillors, many of whom want the cables built offshore.

Rosie Pearson, spokesperson for Essex Suffolk Norfolk pylons, said: “The arrogance of National Grid is frankly astonishing. The regions’ MPs, councils and 23,000 people have all called for an offshore grid. In the face of this united opposition to its East Anglian pylons proposal and united support for an offshore grid it beggars belief that they have come back with the same proposal merely tweaked.”

Liam Walker, project director for the Norwich to Tilbury scheme, said: “The feedback we received in last year’s initial consultation has been valuable in helping us to further shape our proposals. This latest consultation is another part of our engagement with communities and stakeholders along the proposed route and we encourage people to share their views on the updated proposals.”

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