Belfast Telegraph

Chris Huhne sets out his plan to get UK off 'oil hook'

Getting the UK off the "oil hook" will make the country's economy more secure and stable, Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne has said.

In a speech setting out plans for the move away from a dependence on fossil fuels, he said "it would be crazy" not to prepare for a low-carbon future.

He said floods and heatwaves, expected to become more likely with climate change, will cost the UK billions of pounds, but there were economic opportunities to create jobs, growth and exports from the green economy.

Making his comments as the price of Brent crude oil reached $115 a barrel, he said policies to cut emissions would cost the consumer, but would be cheaper than the alternative of sticking with fossil fuels once oil exceeded $100.

The Government's Green Deal, set to get fully under way in 2012, will see energy saving packages worth thousands of pounds installed into millions of homes, he said.

But there would be no upfront costs for consumers, with businesses installing the energy saving measures and homeowners paying for the improvements from savings on their bills.

Mr Huhne also said the Green Deal model would be applied to businesses, while hard-to-heat homes and people in fuel poverty, struggling to pay the bills to heat their homes, would receive subsidy.

He said that as the scheme kicked in, it would bring a significant economic boost, driving manufacturing and creating jobs in areas such as insulation.

Mr Huhne also set out plans to reform the energy market, with support for all low-carbon technologies through a "guaranteed feed-in tariff for all" which would pay companies a guaranteed price for the green electricity they generate.

And a "capacity payment" would make sure the country can meet peaks in demand such as the ad break in Coronation Street when people put the kettle on.

In a speech to CentreForum in London he said: "We must be realistic: rebuilding our energy infrastructure and rebalancing our economy will take time.

"But it will come. And in the long-term, getting off the oil hook will make our economy more independent, more secure and more stable."