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PLANS to expand North Sea oil and gas production may not bring household energy bills down, Energy Secretary Claire Coutinho admitted today.
In response to questions on the government’s controversial plans plans for oil and gas expansion, Ms Coutinho told BBC Breakfast: “It wouldn’t necessarily bring energy bills down, that’s not what we’re saying.”
Her comments have been branded a “stunning admission” by Labour, after her predecessor, Grant Shapps, claimed earlier this year that plans to “max out” North Sea reserves were part of an effort to avoid “price surges” and prevent “Putin or anyone else holding us to ransom.”
The war in Ukraine had little effect on British energy supply, but energy companies have come under fire as they racked-up record profits in the last year while millions were plunged into fuel poverty in Britain as prices soared.
Under public pressure to curb profits, PM Rishi Sunak implemented a windfall tax, but offered a tax break of 45p in the pound to companies who expanded production, as well as signalling his support for the approval of 100 new licences.
Now Mr Sunak, through his first King’s Speech, has offered further succour to oil and gas majors as he plans to legislate for annual licensing rounds, seen as a green light to big oil and gas, and a red flag to climate activists.
Labour’s Ed Miliband said: “It is a stunning admission from this government that, during the worst energy bills crisis in generations, their flagship King’s Speech energy policy won’t even take a penny off energy bills.
“Instead, they will hand billions of taxpayer subsidies to the oil and gas companies making record profits, undermine our energy security and contribute to climate disaster.”
Hannah Bright, of climate activists This is Rigged, told the Star: “The UK government’s energy security bullshit is as transparent as the day is long.
“Of course licensing new North Sea oil and gas isn’t going to provide energy security when it’s the same energy companies destroying the climate for profit who are also reporting record-breaking profits while people freeze to death in their own homes.
“Shell reported £36 billion in profits last year. Last winter, 4,706 people died as a result of cold homes.
“This ‘good old-fashioned home-grown British energy’ narrative is tired — we don’t care where our oil comes from, we care that we get off it.
“Home-grown Scottish oil will be precious little comfort when our homes are under water.”
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