Ben Lake MP accuses UK Government of setting back climate action as wind project dealt a major blow

UK Government's poor planning derails Pembrokeshire floating wind project

Plaid Cymru’s environment spokesperson in Westminster, Ben Lake MP, has today (Friday 8 September) warned that the Conservative UK Government is “setting back our climate efforts” after having failed to secure “an invaluable opportunity that could boost the economy of southwest Wales”.

Mr Lake’s intervention came after it was announced that Wales’ flagship offshore wind project, Erebus, had not been successful in the UK Government’s renewable energy auction. Offshore wind failed to win any contracts in the auction, risking the UK’s net zero goals and higher bills for consumers.

 The annual renewables auction aims to encourage private sector investment in various power sources through "contracts for difference" (CfDs). However, the auction struggled to attract bidders due to the government's overly low maximum price for generators, which failed to account for the increasing manufacturing and installation costs of turbines.

Erebus, the flagship offshore windfarm due to be commissioned in 2026, was the leading opportunity for Wales to kick start the floating offshore wind industry which would have delivered jobs and opportunities for local people in Pembrokeshire and southwest Wales more widely. A successful auction contract from the UK Government was the final hurdle needed for the project to unlock the private investment to proceed.

Ben Lake echoed calls by RenewableUK Cymru on the UK Government to reform the CfD framework, reflecting the rising costs of manufacturing, to ensure it can unlock private investment in Welsh renewable energy projects.

Mr Lake also reiterated his party’s call to devolve the management of the Crown Estate to Wales, which he argued would allow the Welsh Government to devise a “Made in Wales” industrial strategy for offshore wind, which wouldn’t be undermined by the UK Government’s “failures”.

 Ben Lake MP said:

"Today’s news is deeply disappointing. The Erebus project is the first of its kind in Wales, and would have paved the way for further offshore wind developments, helped to lower energy bills, and make an important contribution to the economy of southwest Wales.

“Despite repeated warnings from the industry, the UK Government failed to factor rising costs into the auction process, making this flagship project less competitive. The Irish Government, on the other hand, ran their auction in May with a framework that recognised current supply chain costs and secured investment in four offshore wind farms. Wales is losing to Ireland due to the UK Government's poor planning.

“The UK Government is sadly not only setting back our climate efforts but also failing to secure an invaluable opportunity that could boost the economy of southwest Wales. To avoid more disappointments in future, the UK Government must urgently reform their Contract for Difference framework so that Welsh renewable projects can compete for the private investment sorely need.

“Plaid Cymru also call again for the devolution of the management of the Crown Estate to Wales. This would help the Welsh Government to create a 'Made in Wales' offshore wind strategy that won’t be undermined by the UK Government’s failures.”

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  • Elain Roberts
    published this page in News 2023-09-18 13:41:40 +0100

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