Minister and MPs clash over ‘shambolic’ solar policy

Shadow business, energy and industrial strategy secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey has led an attack on the government’s existing renewables policy, labelling it “shambolic”.

The MP for Salford and Eccles was joined by other MPs Tim Farron and Rupa Huq in questioning the government’s stance on small-scale renewables during an oral and topical questions sessions, which at times threatened to boil over.

Long-Bailey said that the government’s “shambolic policy” surrounding solar and onshore wind had meant that “significant” economic and decarbonisation opportunities had been lost, urging energy and clean growth minister Claire Perry to outline what support she would provide the technologies.

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However her question prompted a strong response from the minister, who said she was “bemused at the honourable lady’s ability to seize a disaster out of a triumph”.

“We have delivered more renewable energy than we ever thought possible at a price that is unimaginable as well. I know the front bench opposite doesn’t give a stuff about consumer bills, they have made that totally obvious. However we care about decarbonisation at the right price for the consumer,” Perry said.

The reply prompted jeers from the opposition benches and Long-Bailey responded by commenting that she thought she had “touched a nerve”.

“And I think the minister is living in a parallel universe to me it seems because in the first quarter of 2018 deployment of new solar slowed to its lowest level since 2010, next year onshore wind installation is expected to be at its lowest level since 2008, but it gets worse.

“Last November the Industrial Strategy was published, but seven months on progress has been slow with business becoming increasingly frustrated. The Industrial Strategy Council is not yet appointed, no strategy for the R&D budget has been published and dozens of sectors are waiting for responses to their sector deals.

“So does the minister accept, as some key business leaders do, that perhaps her government’s chaos over Brexit and apparent inability to even concentrate on an Industrial Strategy is undermining British business and indeed our growth?” Long-Bailey questioned.

Read more: Solar Power Portal

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