Peter Ainsworth: The planet has to pay for every boiling kettle

Greener energy yields savings all round,

Related Topics

We can no longer ignore the problems facing the global environment and the security of Britain's energy supply. People in Britain are waking up to this, and the recent spat over gas supplies between Russia and Ukraine, together with the knock-on effect in Europe, is a timely reminder of the need for action. The UK's energy supply must be self-sufficient, secure and green.

The basic architecture governing the generation and consumption of electricity in the UK has not changed much since the 1930s, when coal was king, and large, heavily polluting power plants supplied the electricity behind almost every light switch and kettle. But as reported on page 4, Britain now wants energy-hungry devices such as plasma televisions, while still depending on this technology, and they are neither sustainable nor secure. If the UK is going to be competitive economically, it will be on green terms, and tomorrow's problem cannot be solved with yesterday's technology.

The Green Energy Bill, which I am introducing, aims to ensure that tomorrow's technologies will be accessible to all. It will be a major step towards decentralised energy, bringing power, literally, to the people.

People must be able to create their own energy and profit from it, or we will not be able to shift from the model of centralised power that ruins the environment and makes homes and businesses dependent on foreign fossil fuels. The Bill aims to introduce a "feed-in" tariff. It's a way of paying people and businesses for the power they produce. The Conservatives successfully fought for this mechanism in last year's Energy Act, against government opposition, and we will soon be launching a Green Paper on a realistic strategy for achieving a low-carbon economy. My Bill requires the Government to put it in place. If renewable energy is going to be widespread, it has to be economical and easy to install.

This is why the Bill aims to cut bureaucratic blockages in the planning system, making it easier for people, farms and businesses to install renewable energy. Red tape has meant that Britain is miles behind Germany, for example, in creating jobs and improving energy security by installing small-scale renewable technologies.

We start from a weak position. Renewable energy still accounts for only about 5 per cent of the UK's supply. Rooftop wind turbines and air-source heatpumps hardly exist in Britain, where only 1,250 of either of these technologies are installed. All of the microgeneration in the UK put together only reduces emissions by less than 100th of 1 per cent of the total. Yet the potential is huge: homes account for 27 per cent of the country's emissions.

Just as important is the task of making our homes less wasteful. An ambitious programme of small-scale renewable energy could make a major contribution to the fight against the growing problem of fuel poverty.

For many, the hassle and the cost of going green are too great. But reforming the planning system and paying people for the energy they produce will change this. It will mean cheaper bills and more investment in green technologies. And it will give individuals more control over the costs of running a home or businesses.

Peter Ainsworth is opposition spokesman on the environment

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Hire Manager - Tool Hire

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is seeking someone w...

Day In a Page

Read Next

I don't blame parents who move to get their child into a good school

Chris Blackhurst
William Hague, addresses delegates at the Conservative party conference for the last time in his political career in Birmingham  

It’s only natural for politicians like William Hague to end up as journalists

Simon Kelner
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference