Thursday, 29 November 2012

West Briton Column 29 November 2012

Last week I had the great pleasure of joining the ReGen South West annual meeting of renewable energy producers. It was good to talk to local companies and academics from Exeter University and learn of recent renewable energy developments, particularly in the marine sector. I believe that businesses in the South West will continue to lead the way in developing technologies that will turn the power of tide and waves into electricity. I was delighted that Falmouth Harbour Commissioners’ FaB test won a prestigious South West Green Energy award last week. The test, developed by the Harbour Commissioners and partners, including the University of Exeter, Wave Hub, A&P Group, Cornwall Marine Network and Mojo Maritime, enables marine energy producers to test new marine energy devices in a controlled area.

This week in Parliament we will be debating the Energy Bill which introduces measures that will enable large scale investment in our energy infrastructure. Investment in renewable energy is essential for our national security and economic prosperity. At the moment we are far too reliant on oil and gas produced in other countries that has to be imported. I do not need to remind readers the price we are paying for such over dependence on imported energy as our ever increasing bills are a regular reminder.  Renewable energy such as heat from geothermal and the sun are already delivering substantial quantities of energy and have the potential to deliver even more. I am a firm believer in community led micro generation of energy and we have some good examples locally of people working together to generate their own power. National infrastructure needs a long term and consistent approach I am pleased that after many years of short term-ism, this nettle is finally being grasped.

These measures will enable real progress to be made towards the target of 15% of UK energy consumption coming from renewable sources by 2020. Enhanced investment in our energy infrastructure will not only help us achieve our energy targets and drive down energy bills, it will also help the economy to grow; last year 25,000 new jobs were created by the UK’s green economy.

I understand that some readers do not believe that the government should be investing in renewable energy because they either don't believe our climate is changing or that if they do it's not a result of carbon emissions from burning oil and gas to make electricity. This is why I have asked the Science and Technology Select Committee to hold an inquiry into the evidence that is used to support climate change arguments, to establish the facts on behalf of the public.

As debate about our climate future continues, extreme weather continues to affect Cornwall. A very big thank you is due to the Environment Agency for all they have done to combat this week’s flooding, and to the emergency services for all their work. I would urge any constituents affected by flooding and facing difficulties to contact me on 01872 274 760, I am always happy to help as best I can.

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