The Conservative energy strategy heavily relies on nuclear power with a “plan to deliver eight new nuclear reactors, the equivalent of one a year, powering millions of homes with clean, safe, and reliable nuclear energy.” The Conservatives stated that the strategy “will harness the power of nuclear, offshore wind and the North Sea”.
The plan also includes delivering homegrown oil and gas and 95 percent low carbon electricity by 2030.
The BBC political programme was live in Canterbury on Thursday night with one audience member, June Sharpe, saying to the panel: “We urgently need to reduce energy bills and limit climate change. Is the government’s energy strategy too little, too late?”
Ms Thornberry was first to answer from the panel which also included Greg Hands the Government minister for Energy and Clean Growth, replying: “Well, yeah”.
Labour’s Shadow Attorney General continued: “Greg and I could kind of perform this dance, he could say to me that we weren’t sufficiently in favour of nuclear early enough in 97 although we were by 2005, I could say to him you cut the subsides when it came to onshore wind and solar and you should have done more.
“Indeed, you should have done more to make sure that we retrofitted houses because it’s all very well warming up a house if it all goes out the window.”
Ms Thornberry called on the Government to “subsidise and make sure that houses are properly looked after”.
Only 40 percent of homes in the UK have been found to have sufficient loft insulation which was brought up by Ms Thornbury and has not been addressed in the Government’s new strategy.
This misstep has been dubbed a “major misjudgement” by the former Conservative Energy Minister, Charles Hendry, who said it will “force large numbers of very vulnerable people to be cold next year when they need not be.”
The MP continued her criticism saying: “This is a serious matter…if only you could warm the houses with the hot air coming out of the Conservative party when it comes to what a great deal this is, but actually it isn’t and you’ve not done enough.”
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Ms Thornberry criticism over inaction on the energy issue reached both parties but slammed the Conservatives for continuing to fail the public.
She stated: “I don’t think either political party over the last few years has done sufficient on this issue and that’s the truth.
“So I was kind of looking forward to this review, I was thinking that maybe you’d come up with something, but you haven’t.”
The comment was received with applause from the audience as she continued: “You talk about nuclear power stations a long time ahead but what are we going to do in the meantime?
The Labour MP noted the success of offshore wind and credited both parties but noted “when it comes to all the other things that need to be done, you haven’t done it and we’ve run out of time”.
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The final criticism was about addressing the public cries for support with rising energy bills to which Greg Hands mentioned Rishi Sunak’s energy support package.
Mr Hands noted there is “£9 billion set aside, a £200 discount on energy bills, £150 discount on council tax, additional funds to make sure the most vulnerable are given assistance to pay their energy bills.”
His comments led to the audience and his fellow panellists mocking him for refusing to accept a correction offered by the host Fiona Bruce that the £200 ‘discount’ is in fact a loan which he continued to say was a levy and a discount despite the public having to pay it back.