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The Labour party promises to “rebuild Britain” amidst controversy over pylon proposals within the Conservative party.

The Labour party is pledging to “reconfigure Britain”, presenting its argument to rural areas in the UK that it will rapidly link farmers and companies to the National Grid.

The pledge comes as Rishi Sunak faces a battle over electricity pylons with the trade secretary, Kemi Badenoch, and former ministers urging him to pull the plug on crucial grid infrastructure.

At the CLA conference on Thursday, Steve Reed, the shadow environment secretary for Labour, will make a commitment to expedite the construction of infrastructure, specifically pylons, in order to connect rural residents to the power grid. He will vow to decrease the amount of time farmers and landowners have to wait to connect their renewable energy sources to the grid from years to months.

According to sources within the Labour party, they are willing to continue advocating for this issue after having conversations with numerous farmers and landowners who have been waiting for years to be connected to the power grid.

Companies that utilize renewable energy sources must endure a wait of ten years before being able to access the electricity grid. This lengthy process also hinders local farms and businesses, making it the longest connection time in Europe.

However, concerns have arisen that a dispute within the Conservative party over pylon proposals may hinder Sunak’s efforts to accelerate grid connectivity.

Several members of the Conservative party have expressed worries about pylons, including former Home Secretary Priti Patel. During a recent parliamentary session, Patel questioned why the National Grid could not be constructed in the ocean.

The speaker requested that the government construct an offshore grid and remove the unsightly pylons. In response, the energy minister, Andrew Bowie, stated that an offshore grid would be costlier and lead to increased bills for consumers, but acknowledged the concerns of those living in the speaker’s district.

Patel is a member of the Offshore Electricity Grid Task Force, which is composed of 14 MPs advocating against pylons. Other members include Badenoch and former environment secretary Thérèse Coffey.

Badenoch urged government officials to consider implementing an offshore grid rather than using onshore pylons. In response, Coffey stated, “While I acknowledge the government’s goal of generating 40 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2030 for energy security, I have consistently emphasized the importance of protecting our valuable landscapes and communities by placing infrastructure in suitable locations.” She also requested the possibility of an offshore grid to be considered.

Kemi Badenocjh speaking at a podium at an event, with her image visible on a large screen behind her

According to National Grid, constructing the grid inland is four times more cost-effective. The Norwich to Tilbury pylon project, aimed at enhancing connections for rural areas, would cost over £3 billion more if it were built offshore.

According to Simon Cran-McGreehin, the leader of analysis at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, a plan for an offshore grid that does not have onshore pylons is not logical. He explained that while the current plans for the grid include coordinated undersea cables to access the UK’s extensive offshore wind resources, these cables must eventually connect to customers on land. Without this connection, it is like having a ring-road with no entrances into the town.

Groups of disgruntled citizens are currently organizing protests against the installation of pylons. In September, a large number of individuals gathered in Suffolk to oppose plans for expedited grid connections through pylon construction. They expressed concerns that the pylons would cause destruction in their area and urged for renewable energy to be transported in a more environmentally-friendly manner.

Chris Venables, the deputy director of politics at Green Alliance, stated that achieving energy independence should be a joint effort across political parties. This can be accomplished by transitioning to affordable and renewable sources of power. The use of costly fossil fuels has negatively impacted the economy and resulted in higher bills for countless individuals. Therefore, it is crucial to prioritize the swift development of clean energy infrastructure to meet our energy needs.

“People are expressing legitimate worries about the democratic aspect of the planning process and it is crucial for communities to reap the rewards of the energy transition. However, we cannot afford to stall our progress. It is the responsibility of politicians to negotiate and facilitate necessary agreements to propel us forward, rather than making impractical and showy statements. Until we are able to break through the current deadlock, countless individuals will continue to struggle with exorbitant energy costs.”

A representative from the Department of Energy Security and Net Zero stated that they are implementing significant changes to the electricity grid, comparable in scale to those made in the 1950s. These changes include cutting the time needed to construct networks in half, expediting grid connections, creating job opportunities, and ultimately decreasing household bills over time.

Families who assist in maintaining essential infrastructure may be eligible for a £1,000 discount on their electricity bills. They may also receive benefits for their community as a recognition for their contribution to providing cleaner and more affordable energy to households and businesses.

Source: theguardian.com