Race across the East: Call to unlock £30bn of wind farm investment

Andrew Harston, chair of East Wind, being interviewed by BBC presenter Amelia ReynoldsImage source, Nick Mann/BBC
Image caption,

The port of Lowestoft in Suffolk is the focal point of the offshore wind industry in the East said Andrew Harston, chair of East Wind

  • Published

The next government must make "difficult choices" to help unlock £30bn of investment in offshore renewable energy, a business leader has told the BBC.

As part of the BBC Politics East's Race across the East, presenter Amelia Reynolds talked to Andrew Harston, chair of East Wind, external, at the most easterly point in the region in Lowestoft.

He said offshore wind farm projects off the Suffolk and Norfolk coast, which could provide eight giggawatts (GW) of power - enough to power seven to eight million homes - are waiting to get the go-ahead.

Mr Harston, strategic advisor to Associated British Ports, external, said: "There have been a lot of developments. They are all approved. All ready to go."

Image source, Nick Mann/BBC
Image caption,

Presenter Amelia Reynolds begins her exploration of politics in the Race across the East

He added: "We just want whatever government is in power to get on with letting this industry develop and create more jobs and investment in the East of England."

Asked if this meant the government would need to make difficult choices with many local people campaigning against pylons and sub-stations, Mr Harston said: "I think we see that around us every day we rely on more and more electricity.

"We need more electricity. We want to be part of that cleaner, greener energy revolution."

He said Lowestoft was the focal point of renewable energy in the region.

Image source, Nick Mann/BBC
Image caption,

Andrew Harston said offshore wind farm projects off the east coast could provide eight giggawatts (GW) of power

What do the parties think?

The Conservative Party, external said it was "embracing the opportunities of the green economy to create more well-paid jobs".

It said it was providing funding for Sizewell C and "speeding up connections to new grid infrastructure". The party said it was also supporting "more onshore and offshore wind" power and providing new funding to support green research and development.

The Conservative Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the government was still "completely committed" to the 2050 net zero target which his predecessor, Theresa May, made law back in 2019.

Image source, PA
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Sizewell C nuclear power station is set to be built near Sizewell B on the Suffolk coast

Labour's leader Sir Keir Starmer has said his party’s green energy plans will ensure the UK’s transition away from oil and gas does not repeat mistakes from the phase-out of coal.

Labour, external wants to set up a new public company, Great British Energy, to invest in clean and renewable energy. Labour plans to almost entirely remove fossil fuels from UK electricity production by 2030, five years earlier than current government plans.

Sir Keir said: “We have to plan for the future, do the transition properly – and that is the best way to make sure jobs are there, not just for this generation, but for the next and the generation after that."

Image source, PA
Image caption,

Local communities in the East of England have expressed concerns over plans for more pylons running across the region

The Liberal Democrats, external want a “proper, one-off windfall tax” on oil producers and traders, and it wants to see more effort put into investing in the energy transition to renewable power.

The party said it wanted to boost "renewable energy by increasing funding for wind, solar and marine power, and removing the Conservatives’ restrictions on new schemes".

The Lib Dems want to give local authorities more power to build community renewable energy and have an emergency programme to insulate homes by 2030, cutting emissions and fuel bills, and ending fuel poverty.

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,

Offshore wind farms are seen as a key to generating energy in the UK

The Green Party, external is calling for investment in "offshore and onshore wind to provide at least 100 GW of electricity by 2030. This should provide around 70% of the UK’s electricity demand by this time" .

Carla Denyer, co-leader of the Green Party, said: “Greens recognise that investing in a green future will provide people with economic, social and environmental security.

"By decarbonising industry, insulating buildings, and ramping up renewable energy infrastructure, the UK can drastically reduce emissions, cut household bills and create new, good quality, well-paid and secure jobs in every corner of the country."

Reform UK, external said it wants to "scrap Annual £10bn of Renewable Energy Subsidies" and "fast-track licences of North Sea gas and oil".

The party said it would "achieve this through equivalent taxes on them. Renewables are not cheaper. Our bills have increased dramatically in line with the huge increase in renewables capacity over the last 15 years".

Reform UK also wants to "fast-track clean nuclear energy with new small modular reactors, built in Britain. Increase and incentivise UK lithium mining for electric batteries, combined cycle gas turbines, clean synthetic fuel and clean coal mining".

BBC Politics East will be broadcast on Sunday, 9 June at 10:00 GMT on BBC One in the East of England, and will be available after broadcast on BBC iPlayer.

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