Minister admits energy plan 'won't help with bills now' as Labour says it will cost people more

What is the new energy strategy and will it make any difference to households? ITV News Political Correspondent Shehab Khan explains

The business secretary has admitted the new energy strategy will not support people with their soaring bills after Labour said households will "pay more" under the plan.

Kwasi Kwarteng told ITV News it's a "long term" strategy which "won't help you or me or others deal with short term prices" but will provide the UK with “cleaner and more affordable energy” by 2030.

The government has committed to deliver eight new nuclear reactors in that time but Labour's shadow climate change secretary Ed Miliband told ITV's Good Morning Britain (GMB) they won't be delivered for a "at least a decade".

He said: "They've rejected the cleanest, cheapest, quickest form of power - onshore wind and solar - and failed to act on energy efficiency, insulating homes - which are the things that can actually cut bills in the year's ahead."

Thursday's plan received praise for mostly relying on low carbon energy sources, as Science Editor Deborah Cohen reports

Prime Minister Boris Johnson defended his plan, saying it's about "tackling some of the mistakes of the past" and making sure that the UK will never again be subjected to "blackmail by people such as Vladimir Putin".

He said it seeks to reduce the UK’s dependence on foreign sources of energy amid worldwide concern about the reliance on Russian oil and gas since the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Mr Kwarteng cited the £350 worth of support available to most households to help with bills, but critics such as Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis say that will be a drop in the ocean compared to an estimated year-on-year rise of £1,300 in energy costs which is expected by October.

But Mr Miliband said Mr Johnson had “caved to his own backbenchers” by rejecting more onshore wind farms, telling GMB that "your viewers are going to pay higher bills as a result".

Mr Johnson rejected that criticism, saying: "We are really doing a huge amount for the immediate cost of living.

"This (energy strategy) is about tackling the mistakes of the past and making sure that we are set well for the future and we are never again subject to the vagaries of the global oil and gas prices and we can't be subject to blackmail, as it were, from people such as Vladimir Putin, we have energy security here in the UK."

He said that the plan was "totally reviving the nuclear industry which, I am afraid, has been more or less moribund in this country".

"Be in no doubt, this is a massively green strategy as well - by 2030 95% of our electricity will come from low-carbon sources," he added.

He denied he'd caved to backbenchers over onshore wind, saying new farms were "controversial" because of their visual impact.

PM said the strategy, including new nuclear and offshore wind plans, would reduce the UK’s dependence on foreign energy sources. Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA

What are the main plans in the energy strategy?

Under the government’s fresh plans a new body, Great British Nuclear, will be launched to bolster the UK’s nuclear capacity with the hope of up to 24 gigawatts (GW) of electricity by 2050 coming from the source of power, 25% of the projected electricity demand.

It is hoped the focus on nuclear will deliver up to eight reactors, equivalent to one reactor a year instead of one a decade.

The strategy also confirmed the intention to push ahead with a nuclear project at the Wylfa site on the island of Anglesey, off the north-west coast of Wales.

On offshore wind, the plan outlines the ambition of producing up to 50GW of energy by 2030, which the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Beis) said would be more than enough to power every home in the UK.

Mr Johnson said the plans would help Britain "enjoy greater energy self-sufficiency with cheaper bills" in the long term.

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Why have energy bills increased so much?

A worldwide squeeze on energy supplies pushed the price of gas up last year.

The rocketing energy bills faced by families have been caused in part by a post-pandemic rise in demand for gas, with lower levels of production.

This was only exacerbated by the war in Ukraine both due to energy supplies but also the production of wheat and some metals.

What is the importance of onshore wind to the energy strategy?

It is thought a major crunch point in the strategy, and one of the reasons its launch has been delayed, is wrangling over onshore wind farms.

Several ministers have aired views backing the development of new oil and gas, but not onshore wind, which is one of the cheapest forms of electricity, along with solar.

Brexit opportunities minister Jacob Rees-Mogg downplayed the earthquake risks from fracking and suggested “every last drop” of oil should be extracted from the North Sea, while Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said he did not favour a vast increase in onshore wind farms as he said they “can create something of an eyesore”.

The government said it would be “consulting on developing partnerships with a limited number of supportive communities who wish to host new onshore wind infrastructure in return for guaranteed lower energy bills”.

A £30m competition to manufacture heat pumps is also to be launched, and there are ambitions to increase solar capacity with a consultation of the rules for solar projects.

How has the energy strategy been received?

The plan was welcomed by offshore wind firm Orsted, trade association Hydrogen UK, Shell and EDF, among others.

Nuclear Industry Association chief executive Tom Greatrex said the new nuclear target of 24GW by 2050 “is a vital step forward for UK energy security and our net zero future”.

But Ed Miliband, Labour’s shadow climate change and net-zero secretary, criticised Mr Johnson's energy plan, saying it will do nothing for the millions of families facing an energy bills crisis.

Ed Miliband, Labour’s shadow climate change and net-zero secretary, said the Government’s energy relaunch ‘is in disarray’ Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA

“Boris Johnson has completely caved to his own backbenchers and now, ludicrously, his own energy strategy has failed on the sprint we needed on onshore wind and solar, the cheapest, cleanest forms of homegrown power," he said.

“No reversal of the ban on onshore wind and not a penny more on energy efficiency.

“These decisions will force households to pay hundreds of pounds more for their energy bills and keep the UK dependent on imported gas for longer.”

Climate think tank E3G, meanwhile, said the announced plans had “failed to support the action needed to either get off Russian gas this year or bring down energy bills”.

Ed Matthew, campaigns director at E3G said: “With no new support to save energy and by holding back on solar power and onshore wind, this strategy will do nothing to help the UK get off Russian gas this year.

“Instead, the government has prioritised policies that will keep us dependent on high-cost fossil fuels and nuclear power."