Labour’s energy plan ‘last thing’ National Grid needs

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The Labour Party’s plans to nationalise the UK’s energy networks would hinder the shift to green energy, National Grid has said.

The company transmits electricity and gas around the country using a network of pylons and cables.

Labour said its pledge to return it to public ownership would “usher in a Green Industrial Revolution” and tackle climate change.

National Grid said the proposal was the “last thing” that was needed.

The Labour proposals are contained in a document entitled Bringing Energy Home, due to be presented on Thursday by leader Jeremy Corbyn and Rebecca Long Bailey, shadow energy secretary.

It said it planned to fit solar panels to one million social homes and those of low-income households to tackle fuel poverty, provide them with free energy and save an average of £117 a year on their bills, which could rise to £270 for households with retired people.

“Any unused electricity generated by the programme will be used by the National Grid, which Labour will take into public ownership, raising an additional £66m per year for local authorities,” the party said.

However, after the report was leaked, National Grid said: “These proposals for state ownership of the energy networks would only serve to delay the huge amount of progress and investment that is already helping to make this country a leader in the move to green energy.

“At a time when there is increased urgency to meet the challenges of climate change, the last thing that is needed is the enormous distraction, cost and complexity contained in these plans.”

‘Different approach’

Labour said it had committed to achieving at least 60% of the UK’s electricity and heat from renewable and low-carbon sources by 2030.

It would take National Grid back into public ownership and “replace existing private monopolies with publicly owned and locally run institutions”.

“These two policies are part of Labour’s plans to usher in a Green Industrial Revolution in housing, transport and industry – creating over 400,000 jobs and tackling climate change,” Labour said.

Mr Corbyn said: “In this country, too often people are made to feel like the cost of saving the planet falls on them. Too many think of green measures as just another way for companies or the government to get money out of them, while the rich fly about in private jets and heat their empty mansions.

“Labour’s approach is different. Our Green Industrial Revolution will benefit working-class people with cheaper energy bills, more rewarding well-paid jobs, and new industries to revive the parts of our country that have been held back for far too long.”

This is not the first time National Grid has hit out at Labour plans to nationalise the energy network.

In 2017 the party’s manifesto committed it to “take energy back into public ownership to deliver renewable energy, affordability for consumers, and democratic control”, prompting the company’s boss to tell the Guardian newspaper: “Clearly we do not think it is a good idea.”

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