Government Rules Out Rationing Energy After Labour Suggests They Should Plan For It In Wake Of Ukraine Crisis
Transport secretary Grant Shapps said the UK is not planning to ration energy after Russia's invasion of Ukraine (Alamy)
A senior Cabinet minister has ruled out the UK having to ration oil and gas after the Ukraine invasion has caused a global energy crisis.
Grant Shapps said that was “not the route we want to go down” after Labour suggested the government should be preparing to do so, as the West moves away from Russian hydrocarbons.
Speaking to the BBC the transport secretary was asked if it was a "good idea" to look into the idea. He replied: "No, I don't," adding the government did not see rationing as part of its approach "and nor should we".
Earlier the shadow business and energy secretary Jonathan Reynolds said the government should be considering rationing energy supplies in the UK, and said it should avoid "shopping from one authoritarian regime to the next" for fossil fuels.
"We should be making those plans and the government should be preparing, not necessarily in public, for that situation,” he told Clive Myrie on BBC1.
"There's a lot of complacency in this country about the relative lower exposure to Russian gas that we have.
"But we should bear in mind that part of the supply that comes to this country from, for instance, Norway or from the liquefied natural gas that goes into the terminals and wells, that is partly because Russian gas is fulfilling the demands of central Europe.”
After Prime Minister Boris Johnson flew to the Middle East to urge Saudi Arabia and other OPEC countries to increase oil production to make up for the reduction from Russian, the Labour frontbencher added: "I think what the government should announce is a plan which is not simply shopping from one authoritarian regime to the next for fossil fuels, but that long-term plan on renewables or nuclear and energy efficiency that would make the difference.
"But let's be clear, we're looking at the images coming out of Ukraine right now, I don't think we should be talking about going back to business as usual where we just buy large quantities of fossil fuels.”
It comes ahead of the government’s long-awaited energy strategy, finally expected to be published this week, with reports Johnson has called for a “colossal” floating wind farm in the Irish Sea.
But as well as more “offshore” projects it is also likely to increase the target for “onshore” wind too, which has been effectively banned in the past few years due to restrictive legislation.
However Shapps revealed a potential Cabinet split on the matter, after telling Sky News he does not "favour a vast increase in onshore wind farms".
He said: “They sit on the hills there and can create something of an eyesore for communities as well as actual problems of noise as well.
"So I think for reasons of environmental protection, the way to go with this is largely, not entirely, but largely off-sea."
On whether that means a big increase in onshore wind farms is "effectively off the table for now", Shapps replied: "I'd urge you to wait for the energy strategy later in the week.
“But my thinking is what you really want to do is develop in other ways - nuclear, we will have offshore wind. I don't think you want a huge expansion of onshore wind."
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