Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

How Tories Are Shaping Up on Energy in Their Quest for Power

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

How Tories Are Shaping Up on Energy in Their Quest for Power

Article excerpt

Byline: Robert Lea ENERGY ANALYSIS

IT IS the time to start fronting up. David Cameron's Conservatives have been lampooned for being long on rhetoric and short on detailed policy. But with a general election less than a year away, and ahead of a rousing "go back and prepare for government" party conference in October, Tory front-bench teams are preparing the last rushes on a series of policy "white papers".

The election will, of course, be all about the economy, stupid. Yet Cameron by his high-profile greening of the Tory blue agenda has committed Energy and Climate Change to a decent second in his election manifesto.

The man on the Clapham bendy bus may think he knows what the Conservatives are about. They are: for wind turbines, especially ones on houses.

a bit anti-nuclear. avowedly against coal.

However, having been given a sneak preview of what the Shadow Energy and Climate Change team is preparing to put forward in the party's manifesto, the truths turn out to be: not as much as you'd to think er, they've changed their mind and, strangely, not.

WIND Cameron memorably whipped up visions of a wind turbine in every community, if not on every house, when he first embraced the eco-vote.

Since then, recalcitrant nimby Tory shire MPs have embarrassed the leader. The official stance now is: local onshore wind farms only if local communities say yes -- which, of course, in most rural Tory constituencies means no.

Offshore wind, meanwhile, has been Labour's panacea, its solution to hitting highly ambitious renewable energy targets and a key aid in avoiding the much-vaunted self-inflicted forthcoming shortfall in UK energy generating capacity.

Labour has pinned its hopes on 8000 offshore turbines producing of 33,000 megawatts of power. The Conservatives think this is preposterous.

Rather, they believe offshore should be encouraged but only if you think smart and construct a National Grid of the seabed, to efficiently connect this variable energy source rather by piecemeal point-to-point link to the mainland.

More importantly, they say the Government should not be banking on one clean technology. It should be actively backing several renewable technologies, not least the huge potential of marine energy.

NUCLEAR The party is still judged on comments by Cameron's original pick as Energy spokesman Alan Duncan, who three years ago famously called nuclear power "the last resort".

Much water has passed round the cooling towers since. French and German power giants have been encouraged to bail Labour out of the so-called energy gap by committing to build new reactors in the UK without any discernible taxpayer cost. The Tories are now "comfortable" with the prospect of new build, especially as it will be on existing brownfield nuclear sites generally welcomed by local communities. …

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