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Heating and electricity will become a human rights, Labour pledges

HEATING and electricity will become a “human right” under a Labour government, the party will announce tomorrow.

Labour will take the national grid out of the hands of private shareholders and prevent consumers being ripped-off, shadow business secretary Rebecca Long Bailey will say.

Around £13 billion in dividends has been paid out to shareholders in the last five years, according to a review of network owners’ company accounts from 2014 to 2018.

Under Labour’s plans, new public agencies would have the power and responsibility to tackle fuel poverty, protect energy as a human right and ensure that targets to reduce climate change are met. 

Publicly owned networks would have connections to parts of the country with high potential for solar, wind and tidal energy generation.

The plans also include the creation of a new national energy agency (NEA) to replace the National Grid, while 14 regional energy agencies (REAs) would assume the functions of the existing distribution network operators.

Where local authorities want to accelerate the energy transition, they would be able to set up municipal energy agencies (MEAs) and take over responsibility for ownership and operation of distribution networks from the REAs.

MEAs would then own and operate distribution networks, enabling them to integrate networks with local generation and supply.

In addition, a Labour government would support the establishment of local energy communities (LECs).

This would develop small-scale energy generation and engage with distribution at the micro level of housing estates, streets or small villages. LECs will be community-owned and non-profit-making.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is expected to hit out at millionaires who “fly about in private jets and heat their empty mansions,” as he and Ms Long Bailey set out their plans tomorrow for a “green industrial revolution.”

The proposals include fitting solar panels to a million social or low-income homes, so as to help reduce bills for cash-strapped residents.

Interest-free loans, grants and changes to regulations will help an additional 750,000 properties install solar panels.

Mr Corbyn will say: “In this country, too often people are made to feel like the cost of saving the planet falls on them.

“Too many think of green measures as just another way for companies or the government to get money out of them, while the rich fly about in private jets and heat their empty mansions.

“Labour’s approach is different. Our green industrial revolution will benefit working-class people with cheaper energy bills, more rewarding well-paid jobs and new industries to revive the parts of our country that have been held back for far too long.”

Labour estimates that installing solar panels on social and low-income homes could save bill-payers an average of £117 a year, which could rise to £270 for retired households.

“Social justice and climate justice as one,” Mr Corbyn will argue. “Environmental destruction and inequality not only can but must be tackled at the same time.”

Labour believes that its policy will create 16,900 jobs and save 7.1 million tonnes of CO2 emissions, equivalent to taking four million cars off Britain's roads.

Reacting to details of the scheme released in advance, Solar Trade Association director of advocacy and new markets Leonie Greene said: “We are particularly pleased to see Labour's focus on social housing, since solar can save households potentially hundreds of pounds off their energy bills.

“Current policies deter those who need solar the most from accessing it, which is a great shame.”

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