Dear Mr Huhne,
I am sure you will have seen the article in the Sunday Telegraph of July 17th by Andrew Gilligan entitled “Jobs gone with the wind”. He raises some important points on which I should be grateful to have your views.
With your panoply of green initiatives — the EU ETS, a carbon floor price, Renewable Obligation Certificates, feed-in tariffs — plus the exorbitant cost of electricity from wind turbines, you are set to give Britain the most expensive electricity in Europe, and thus probably the most expensive electricity in the world. This will devastate the competitiveness of our economy, and will drive jobs, industry, production, and investment out of the UK (and maybe out of the EU altogether). This is gesture politics on a grand scale. It will impoverish our children while doing nothing for the climate. We may claim to lead, but no one will follow.
In all probability companies will relocate to jurisdictions with lower environmental standards, and may thus produce more emissions, not less. Already the chlorine plant in Runcorn and the Lynemouth aluminium plant have been mentioned. In my East Midlands constituency, the cement industry will be affected. All energy intensive industries will face similar problems, including metals, chemicals, glass, paper and wood processing, and so on. I have just made a visit to the Jaguar plant at Castle Bromwich, and although Jaguar personnel scrupulously declined to comment on the location of Tata/Jaguar’s proposed new engine plant, you have given them a huge incentive to choose India over the UK.
You will have noted that the EU’s ETS gave Tata Steel a massive incentive to close their Teesside plant, rather than any overseas plant, since this gave them a windfall of ETS carbon credits.
It is estimated that 225,000 jobs are under threat from your green policies, and all the evidence from many countries is that the creation of “green jobs” actually destroys far more real jobs in the real economy than are created in “green” industries.
Last year, says Gilligan, a further 700,000 UK homes were driven into fuel poverty, and on some estimates half of all UK homes will be fuel-poor by 2020. As a politician, I cannot support policies leading to such an outcome.
New research by the Renewable Energy Foundation shows that if all the costs of wind energy are accounted for (including the essential conventional back-up, and the hugely expensive adjustments to the National Grid to accommodate distributed generation) then on-shore wind will be three times the cost of nuclear electricity, and off-shore wind four times as expensive.
Stan Higgins, Chief Executive of the Northeast Process Industry Cluster, describes these new costs as “suicidal”. Industry analysts have pointed out that as a method of reducing emissions, wind turbines are just about the least cost-effective approach — yet you have made wind your primary strategy.
I appeal to you to reconsider this disastrous course of action before more damage is done, more pensioners die of cold, more jobs are lost, more businesses relocate off-shore, and more inward investment is lost to the UK.
ROGER HELMER MEP