This week the government’s landmark Energy Bill was passed by the House of Commons with a number of amendments.
There is more in this major Bill than I can delve into within the confines of this column, but at its core, the Energy Bill is a critical piece of legislation for delivering cheaper, cleaner energy and for increasing investment into clean technologies.
It will also secure our energy sector. The war in Ukraine has brought into sharp focus our over reliance on international fossil fuel markets to meet our energy needs, which is hurting the pockets of businesses and households through volatile pricing.
From an Environmental Audit Committee perspective, our reports had put forward a number of recommendations that I was pleased to see adopted. It makes sense to open the prospect for onshore wind, in suitable locations, and I welcome revocation of the de-facto ban on onshore wind turbines.
Much of South Shropshire is off the gas grid, so I have supported campaigns for the introduction of support for more sustainable fuel. Similar to the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation, a mechanism will be introduced to encourage use of the growing market for HVO (hydrotreated vegetable oil) instead of domestic heating oil. This would allow off gas-grid properties to have an alternative to heat pumps as a fossil-free heating system as this market develops.
As I have said in these pages before, setting a date for the end of oil and gas exploration will send a clear message about our commitment to net zero. But we cannot end our reliance on fossil fuels overnight, and it makes sense to utilise our own energy supply while we need to, rather than relying on the volatility of international markets.
I have worked alongside other members of the Conservative Environment Network to campaign for removing the hydrogen levy from household energy bills, securing a net zero remit for Ofgem, the creation of a £10 million Community Energy Fund, and a consultation on a price certainty mechanism for sustainable aviation fuel – all of which were confirmed by this Bill.
This Bill sets us on a positive course towards meeting net zero by 2050, while at the same time protecting our energy security and keeping the UK at the forefront of emerging technologies and areas of economic growth.