The recent gas shortages and price spikes are a wake-up call. Russia’s outrageous behaviour makes it the last country we should rely on to keep the lights burning.
What has got us into this mess? A decade of virtue-signalling, ‘alternative facts’ and wishful thinking, all utterly divorced from Britain’s national interest and the need for cheap, secure and reliable energy.
The fantasy that we can rely on renewables to supply our energy needs has been trashed by the National Grid, which has now acknowledged that it is not feasible to switch to electric heating on the scale required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 80 per cent of 1990 levels by the middle of this century. This is an extraordinary admission and if the Government fails to acknowledge it then it is guilty of a wanton attempt to sacrifice our prosperity and security at the green altar. We are going to need reliable and secure gas supplies for a long time into the future; this isn’t up for negotiation. The question is, where do we want them to come from?
Worryingly, National Grid has also warned that Britain may become reliant on imports for more than 90 per cent of our gas supplies by 2040. The security implications if this comes from Russia are enormous. So as it stands, the situation is only going to get worse. In contrast, National Grid says that if the UK develops its shale resources, that figure will be only 30 per cent.
To achieve this won’t be easy. Planning applications for fracking have been held up for years by vindictive green campaigners. They have been employing expensive planning specialists to delay exploration activity for as long as possible.
The law needs to change to classify ‘non-fracking’ drilling (exploration) as permitted development. This was actually in the Conservative manifesto, and it would stop activists from delaying even preliminary stages of onshore gas exploration. It would be a strong signal of intent that Britain is serious about developing its shale resources.
That there should have been a shortage of gas supplies this winter is all the more shocking in an era of global natural gas abundance. Cheap fossil fuel energy is transforming the planet for the better and it’s what most sensible governments want for their citizens. Our leaders need to get a grip.