The Queen’s speech suggests that the Conservative government will increasingly focus on domestic oil and gas production over the next parliament while devolving responsibility for onshore wind farms to local authorities.
The Energy Bill outlined in the speech could be interpreted as leaning towards two corners of the so-called trilemma – energy security and affordability. However, guidance notes published by the Department of Energy & Climate Change state that the government remains committed to decarbonising energy. The Conservatives will “continue to reform the electricity market to ensure the necessary investment is made to transition to a low carbon electricity system” at lowest cost, according to the document.
Meanwhile, in a blog post on Decc’s website, Secretary of State, Amber Rudd said that the UK was “already playing its part” in limiting the impact of climate change and that a global agreement on carbon emissions reduction was “the only credible means to leverage more from others and would further drive down the costs of climate action”.
The government also used the Queen’s Speech to announce its intention to set up a new regulator, the Oil and Gas Authority, which it claimed would be a “robust, independent and effective regulator” tasked with “maximising the economic recovery of oil and gas from UK waters”. Powers will be transferred to it from Secretary of State and the tab for setting up and running the OGA will be picked up by businesses rather than consumers.
The speech made no specific reference to shale gas, of which Rudd is known to be a proponent, although the guidance notes highlight “exploring for gas” alongside proposed investments in infrastructure for new nuclear and renewables.
The department said an announcement around ending subsidies for new onshore wind in England and Wales would soon be made separately. The wind industry has called for clarity on precisely what “no new subsidy” for onshore wind means.