Projects set to reap investment in Sunak energy security push

Energy Security Secretary Grant Shapps will meet top figures from the oil and gas, renewable and nuclear industries over the course of the week.

Rishi Sunak is expected to travel to Scotland to announce new investment in a major carbon capture project in a week that will also see meetings between energy bosses and ministers.

Mr Sunak will start the week in Aberdeenshire, according to the Sunday Times, where he will announce millions of pounds in funding for the Acorn carbon capture project, a joint venture between Shell UK and other companies.

Energy Security Secretary Grant Shapps will also meet top figures from the oil and gas, renewable and nuclear industries over the course of the week.

The focus on British energy projects comes after days of criticism of Mr Sunak amid concerns over a softening of the Government commitment to key net zero policies and environmental promises.

Some Tory MPs have used the party’s victory in the Uxbridge by-election, attributed to anger over London’s ultra-low emission zone (Ulez), to argue for a shift from the Government to create a new dividing line with Labour.

The Government, despite alarm from climate campaigners, is also committed to new oil and gas licences in the North Sea.

This comes alongside efforts to revive nuclear energy within the UK, with Mr Shapps hoping to make it a key plank in the Government’s net zero strategy.

Such moves have been deemed increasingly necessary since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, with Mr Shapps hailing energy security as “national security”.

Energy minister Lord Callanan said the Government was committed to the 2050 net zero target, but that the approach must be “fair and proportionate”.

Speaking to Times Radio, he defended any push for new oil and gas exploration in the North Sea.

“If we can get resources that we would otherwise be importing from our own supplies in the North Sea that employ British people, that raises money for the UK exchequer and it’s actually less carbon intensive than importing that through methods like liquid natural gas,” he said.

Mr Sunak has sought to step up his attacks on Labour over its green proposals, but on Sunday the party said it would take no lessons from the Conservatives on energy security.

Shadow international trade secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said: “We’re 13 years into a Conservative government. This is yet another announcement from the Prime Minister. We have to judge them on not what they say, but on what they do.

“Their record on energy security is very poor indeed. Whether it comes from crashing solar markets, whether it is in terms of preventing, in effect, the development of onshore wind facilities since 2015. There was the failure on gas storage, closing for five years in 2017,” he told Times Radio.

Jamie Peters, climate co-ordinator at Friends of the Earth, said ending the UK’s “reliance” on fossil fuels was the “only sensible and effective way” of increasing energy security.

“This means saying no to new fossil fuel developments and ramping up our investment in renewables and energy efficiency,” he said.

“The UK is blessed with huge renewable energy resources, offshore and onshore, and we should be making better use of these for long-term security and economic prosperity.

“With parts of the world literally on fire, we need our politicians to show bolder leadership on cutting emissions – not more dither and delay.”

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