Chris Huhne is the new Energy and Climate Change Secretary.
It is going to be very interesting in the coming months, now that we in UK have a coalition government between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats. Both parties prior to the election stated their respective environmental and eco-credentials. But the the main issue of the economic situation taking the centre stage, just how many true environmental actions will we see?
According to the Times newspaper 12/5/10, Chris Huhne will have to deal with a number of issues straight away and a key issue will be the nuclear power one. Pre-election the Lib Dems made it perfectly clear that new power stations were not in their plans, yet the Conservatives have on many occasions stated that this is part of their overall strategy. Another hot topic is that of the new runways for both Heathrow and Gatwick. Outline planning was previously granted for Heathrow by the former Labour government. This will be welcomed in certain circles, but maybe the already under pressure aviation industry, may not be so keen. Travel Mole has more here.
Green homes loan scheme
Conservative plans to “lend” homeowners money to make eco-improvements to their homes and then replay the up front cash out of the savings the make on their energy bills. The environmental products supply chain is eager to see which products will actually qualify and the households I’m sure will be equally keen to see the terms and the possible savings. A vast proportion of our homes could be insulated better, to date, most incentives and regulations have been aimed at new-build. But of course the housing stock is very slow to change, something like 1-2% per year.
Power stations and energy production
As mentioned above the nuclear power station replacement scheme seems back on, but how the economic situation will allow this is unclear. There is also a firm coalition agreement on any new coal-fired power stations. It seems clear that for these to go ahead, a carbon capture scheme/technology is required and I’m assuming this has been requested by the Lib Dems.
At this stage there is no mention of the “infamous” fuel duty on petrol and diesel, but surely this will become a hot potato sooner than later. There is better news on the go-ahead for the high-speed rail link, but pre-election this looked like it had all party agreement anyway.
Without doubt we are entering a very exciting political arena and agenda in this next parliament, and there will be much conflict between what the country can afford in economic terms and what is required to reduce the environmental impact.