The Yorkshire Post by Mason Boycott-Owen
Sir John Armitt, chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, told the Financial Times that although the UK was right to focus on renewable energy as the future, the country still needs gas storage.
His intervention comes after talks between the Government and the owners of the Rough gas facility off the coast of Yorkshire collapsed over the level of financial backing it would receive.
The country’s largest gas storage facility was partly reopened in October in an effort to increase the country’s energy security amid rising energy prices across Europe.
The move to bring the facility back online happened under Liz Truss, who during her short stint as prime minister, said that she wanted the UK to be a net energy exporter by 2040.
The Prime Minister, challenged about the reopening of the Rough gas storage facility, told the Commons: “We are in a very, very difficult situation and I am committed as Prime Minister to doing everything it takes to resolve this situation, to help people with their energy bills and to make sure we have security of supply for the long-term,” she told the Commons.
Rough is only operating at a fifth of its previous capacity after being closed five years earlier.
“Allowing Rough to fall off the table again might be understandable if you are certain that the gas price spike of the last year won’t be repeated and that other forms of supply are secure,” Mr Armitt told the FT.
“But that’s a big gamble to place, given the UK’s continuing reliance on gas in the short term,” he added.
“Let’s be clear that if a deal on Rough goes cold, the next time we want to resurrect it the costs would be even higher.”
It comes after the Chancellor asked the National Infrastructure Commission to look at speeding up the time it takes for big projects such as offshore wind farms to get planning permission.
Between 2012 and 2021 the time it takes for these projects to get development consent has increased by 65 per cent.
The Government said that the report on its findings should be available in the Spring.
Sam Richards, founder and Campaign Director for pro-growth campaign group Britain Remade, said: “The Government should absolutely look at speeding up how long it takes for major infrastructure projects to get the green light.
“It's ridiculous that it can take up to 13 years for a new offshore wind farm to start generating power when construction only takes two to three years. But it shouldn’t take an unnecessary and lengthy review for ministers to update planning statements to get Britain building again.
“The fact that even this small step in the right direction will exclude onshore wind, once again stopping people from benefiting from the cheapest source of energy, is alarming during a cost of living crisis.
“People across Britain overwhelmingly back onshore wind in their communities and it is time the Government recognised this. Government needs to drop the bad on new onshore wind in order to cut bills, boost growth and create thousands of jobs.”
The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero was contacted for comment.