Labour’s plans to pump £8.3Billion into a nationalised green energy supplier drew mixed reactions today from industry participants.

Would-be prime minister Sir Keir Starmer unveiled this morning his proposals for setting up a public energy development company, to be branded Great British Energy and headquartered in Scotland.

GBE would not generate energy itself, but instead be a nationalised developer, initially enabling offshore wind and solar, followed later by technologies such as batteries and floating wind.  It would use home-grown renewables power to safeguard domestic supplies, while reducing the nation’s dependency on volatile, often dictatorial overseas suppliers of damaging hydrocarbon energy,

Labour’s GBE plans represent a big retreat from the party’s notion last year of investing £28Billion every year of a new Parliament in green measures.  Starmer scaled back the ambitions, agreeing with shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves, pictured, that Britain’s public finances could now not bear such a burden.

GBE is positioned as a catalyst for private investment, with every pound of public cash stimulating three times as much from private and commercial backers.

The Conservatives last year granted over 100 new exploration permits for offshore extraction of climate-wrecking fossil fuels.  Today Starmer said Labour would honour them, but would issue no new ones.

Speaking on BBC radio, Sir Keir said oil and gas would be part of the UK’s “energy mix for decades to come” and Labour was “not planning to turn the pipes off instantaneously”.

“Labour’s ambition to get building new clean energy projects within months is hugely welcome” said Sam Richards, founder and campaign director of infrastructure lobbyists Britain Remade.

“But they won’t be able to get spades in the ground as quickly as they need to – unlocking the benefits of cheap power and lower bills – unless they tackle head-on Britain’s outdated planning system”, Richards cautioned.

“There is a list of projects currently sat in the Department ( of energy ) that on day one Labour can and should give the green light to; they should be signed-off as soon as new ministers get behind their desks”.

“Beyond that they should move as quickly as possible to reform consultations, streamline environmental impact assessments, and amend the habitats regulations to dramatically speed up the planning system for clean energy.”

Brian Allen, boss of Rovco, a high-tech company serving the offshore wind industry, observed; “Whichever government comes into power must have a very clear plan for supporting the offshore wind industry with the infrastructure, talent, and capital investment it needs.

“Otherwise, the renewables gap risks becoming a chasm. The UK’s current operational capacity in offshore wind is around 14GW, so we have just under 6 years to reach our target of 50GW by 2030″.

Training skilled workers remained a problem”, the Rovco boss went on. “The Offshore Wind Industry Council suggests an additional 70,000 workers were needed, many of whom could be found from  the oil and gas sector”.


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