Green Party Leader calls for windfall tax on nuclear power as Government unveils energy plans

The Government has outlined further details of its proposed Electricity Market Reform (EMR) – billed as the biggest shake-up of the British electricity market since privatisation in 1990.

Responding to the announcement today in the House of Commons by the Secretary of State for the Department of Energy and Climate Change, Chris Huhne, Green Party Leader Caroline Lucas MP said, “While I welcome efforts to address the UK’s dependence on fossil fuels, reduce our exposure to the volatile energy prices which ramp up consumers’ bills and boost investment in renewables, there is no doubt that the Government’s circuitous Electricity Market Reform is a love letter to nuclear power.

“It is very clear that the EMR has been designed to rig the energy market in favour of nuclear, with the introduction of a carbon price floor from 1 April 2013 set to gift huge windfall handouts of around £50m a year to existing generators – making a mockery of the Coalition pledge not to subsidise the industry.

“To claw back this money for the taxpayer, the Government should levy a windfall tax on nuclear alongside the carbon floor price.

“The EMR’s aim to boost renewables by providing long term price certainty for investors and make it easier for companies beyond the Big Six to enter the market may be encouraging, but the Coalition’s ideological obsession with nuclear will seriously undermine the potential to shift towards greener energy.

“Furthermore, we know that energy efficiency and demand management measures play a key role in tackling rising bills and lifting people out of fuel poverty – yet they are absent from the EMR.

“The Government should use the full revenue from the EMR to invest directly in energy efficiency and demand reduction, and measures to reduce fuel poverty.

“The Government should also be offering long-term contracts and tariffs for electricity demand reduction, not just for electricity supply – and strengthening the terms of the forthcoming Green Deal.”

“The proposals outlined today raise far more questions than they answer.

“The renewables industry needs clarity, not confusion – yet some aspects of the EMR, like the Contract for Difference (CfD) model, are so complex and overlapping as to be almost incomprehensible.

“And the EMR fails to offer either a tough Emissions Performance Standard to allow for a ban on unabated coal-fired power stations – or a recognition of the potential of local, decentralised and community energy to deliver a significant proportion of our electricity needs.”

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