A Lincolnshire environment chief has questioned whether plans to reach Carbon Net Zero by 2050 are now achievable given issues including rising energy bills and the Ukraine crisis.
Conservative Councillor Colin Davie, environment portfolio holder at Lincolnshire County Council said there had been a failure of energy policy going back 20 years to Labour government, but admitted: “To my shame, we still haven’t sorted this out as a Conservative government.”
“The idea that we should keep kicking the can down the road and someone will deal with it? Unfortunately they’ve run out of road to kick the can down.
“We’re now going to have to have a grown up discussion about whether the desire to meet Net Zero is achievable against the fact that most people can’t afford to pay their bills in 2022, let alone getting to 2050.”
Councillor Davie believes there has been too much pushing for renewables such as wind and solar, and not enough done to maintain a balance with other sources – including nuclear power.
He has previously campaigned against on-shore windfarms and is currently engaged in a battle to stop Lincolnshire’s top quality agricultural land from being used to house solar farms.
He said the Ukraine conflict was becoming a long, drawn-out war of attrition, which he believed would lead to some of the sanctions on Russia collapsing due to a lack of answers to energy needs.
His argument was that the UK needs to be more self-sufficient both in terms of energy and food production.
He pointed to the French as an example who have limited energy price rises to 4% due to having a “much more stable energy supply”.
“They rely a lot more on nuclear, and less on imported energy, so they can control it better,” he said.
“The problem we have is we’ve pushed for renewables so hard. We’ve now got very unbalanced energy mix in our country.”
He added that the UK was “relying totally on gas”.
“We haven’t made gas more efficient, we’ve wound down nuclear. and our total reliance on making sure the lights stay on is based around the gas policy, which is crazy.
“This idea that we can plaster Lincolnshire with more turbines and more solar panels is nonsense. The government is pretending that more renewables are needed but this is just cynical gesture politics at a time when we need serious grown-up politics.”
He said he was “not prepared to sacrifice Lincolnshire… for a futile and counterproductive on-shore wind gesture to save the embarrassment of the people in Westminster” adding that those who wanted that policy could place it in their own constituencies.
He said the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, where a huge amount of wheat and grain is imported from, will have a major impact on the global economy, with some African countries already indicating they will limit the amount of food they export themselves.
“All of this impacts on what we eat and how we produce things and these costs are not going to suddenly go down tomorrow.
“They’re baked for some time to come…. The world has changed because of Ukraine and personally for me, globalisation is a dead duck.”
However, he said Lincolnshire was “well-placed in times of uncertainty to benefit from smart investors”.