Tory leadership frontrunner Rishi Sunak has set out plans for the UK to achieve “energy sovereignty” by 2045, as the remaining trio of candidates embark on the final leg of the Westminster contest.
The former chancellor wants the country to produce all the energy it uses by that date, but said he would scrap a plan to relax the ban on new onshore wind farms in England, instead focusing on offshore turbines.
Under his plan, a new “energy sovereignty” target for 2045 would be written into law, but Mr Sunak said he would “work night and day” to beat that goal.
An energy security committee would co-ordinate action to keep power stations online, protect gas reserves and reform markets to cut consumers’ bills.
A dedicated energy ministry would be formed by breaking up the current Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
🇬🇧Energy self-sufficient by 2045 🌊Massive expansion in offshore wind🚫Scrap plans to relax the ban on onshore wind
— Ready For Rishi (@RishiSunak) July 20, 2022
Mr Sunak told the Telegraph: “As energy bills skyrocket in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it has never been more important that our country achieves energy sovereignty, so that we’re no longer reliant on the volatility of the global energy supply.
“That’s why, as prime minister, I would introduce an ambitious new plan to make the UK energy-independent, investing in vital new technologies.
“I am committed to net zero by 2050, but that can’t mean neglecting our energy security. So, although the legal target for energy sovereignty will be 2045, I will work night and day to ensure we beat that target, securing a safer future for the next generation.”
The Government said in its recent energy strategy that it will not introduce “wholesale changes” to planning regulations on onshore wind which, along with a ban on subsidies for the technology that has been reversed, effectively halted the development of new farms in England.
But it said it will consult on “developing partnerships with a limited number of supportive communities who wish to host new onshore wind infrastructure in return for guaranteed lower energy bills”.
If he is made Tory leader, Mr Sunak said wind energy will be “an important part of our strategy”.
“But I want to reassure communities that, as prime minister, I would scrap plans to relax the ban on onshore wind in England, instead focusing on building more turbines offshore,” he said.