Clearing the DECCs

Well it almost passed unnoticed, but George Osborne’s speech in Manchester this week may have profound effects on UK energy policy, fracking and the future of renewables.

It seems that DECC has not been running as an autonomous department since the May election, instead it has been under direct control of the Treasury who now seem to view it as a little too hot to handle.

As a result the entire energy policy brief out of the department for energy and climate change has been handed to the new National Infrastructure Commission headed up by Labour Peer and ex cabinet minister Lord Adonis.

The Ecologist reports:

With the energy portfolio has gone all the big issues on its agenda. These include the Hinkley C nuclear power station, indeed the entire future of the UK nuclear power programme.

And then’s there’s renewable energy – until it was hammered by swingeing cuts in support and deliberate planning blight, one of the UK’s fastest growing and most successful industrial sectors.

So what’s left for DECC to do? We can only imagine that secretary of state Amber Rudd is asking herself the same question

Rather than paraphrase the Ecologist’s excellent summary of what has been done and what it might mean I’ll point you to their article here

Clearly though this is one of the most significant developments as regards fracking and National Energy Policy in general that we have seen in recent years. Hold onto your hats. As The Ecologist concludes:

And let’s not delude ourselves. Lord Adonis is no greenie. He supports high speed rail, airport expansion, fracking and new Thames river crossings in East London. He has nothing to say about climate change at all – he’s far more worried about the fiscal climate or the economic climate than climate itself.

The most worrying thing about the ‘energy revolution’ is that energy policy is now detached from DECC’s climate change brief. However Adonis does offer some respect for the Climate Change Committee and its role in advising government. We must hope he takes their advice and maintains a committment to the Climate Change Act.

These profound changes in the UK’s energy policy landscape offer both threats and opportunities. On the positive side, they offer some prospect of rational and informed decision making. And that alone would be a welcome change.

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