Lords concede defeat in Energy Bill battle

The UK Government’s Energy Act has entered into law after peers admitted defeat in their attempts to win concessions for more onshore wind farms.

The House of Lords – which had been blocking the Energy Bill by adding amendments to it – finally voted in favour of the draft legislation, allowing it to receive Royal Assent and be added to the statute books.

Peers had wanted a further four wind farms in Scotland to be given an extended grace period because they already had planning permission when the UK Government closed the Renewables Obligation support scheme a year early.

But Conservatives in the House of Commons used their majority to reject such pleas, arguing that they needed to implement their manifesto commitment not to pay subsidies to new onshore wind farms.

Ping-pong ends

The Lords’ agreement to pass the Act brought to an end a month of so-called “ping-pong” debates between the two Houses of Parliament.

Energy Secretary Amber Rudd said: “The Energy Act is a vital part of our plan to ensure our families and businesses have access to secure, affordable and clean energy supplies they can rely on, while keeping bills down.

“By strengthening the Oil & Gas Authority and giving it powers to drive greater collaboration and efficiency in the industry, this Act shows that the broad shoulders of the UK are committed to helping our oil and gas industry attract investment, support jobs and remain competitive for the future.”

But Labour peer Lord Grantchester argued during the final debate in the House of Lords: “It is deeply disappointing that the government is unable to agree an entirely fair, minor adjustment to the grace period concessions that have had to be woven into the Bill following the opportunistic inclusion of the decision on the early closure of the Renewables Obligation.”

‘Pain behind us’

Hugh McNeal, Chief Executive at trade body RenewableUK, said: “The Government has said that in the future the UK’s electricity will be generated by gas, nuclear and renewables and not from coal.

“Onshore wind is now the cheapest of these options.

“With the pain of the Energy Bill finally behind us, we need to look forward and find sensible ways to take advantage of wind power to ensure consumers’ electricity bills are as low as possible.”

> Read the Energy Act