Conservative leadership candidate Rishi Sunak has unveiled plans to make Britain “energy secure” — including boosting North Sea gas production — as he seeks to make up ground in the race to become prime minster.
He said he would legislate to make the UK “energy independent” by 2045, and if elected leader he would put in place immediate support for households — particularly the most vulnerable — faced with soaring energy bills.
The announcement came as the UK reels from rampant inflation and a stuttering economy.
Mr Sunak pitched the energy vision as he tries to make up ground on Liz Truss, the only other runner still in the race.
He pledged urgent action to increase domestic energy supply with the creation of a new energy security task force and deregulation in the North Sea to allow gas production to increase over the winter.
“The first rule of any crisis is to acknowledge that you are facing one. We are facing an energy crisis and I have a plan to both get us through it and make sure this is a one winter crunch,” Mr Sunak said.
“I will lead a national effort to increase our domestic energy supply and cut our energy waste. I will also make sure our country is never put into this position again.
“I will leave no stone unturned to secure British energy sovereignty. We cannot rely on imported energy so I will legislate for the UK to be entirely energy independent by 2045 to accelerate investment.
“My plan will get us through this winter crisis and provide energy security for Britain.”
He said regulations governing offshore wind, rooftop solar and nuclear would be overhauled to scale up supply, while fracking for shale gas would be allowed where there is local consent.
He would also take steps to reduce energy waste, with low cost measures to insulate millions of homes.
In the longer term, he promised to reform the energy market — which was no longer “fit for purpose” — to cut bills, with the establishment of a new dedicated energy department to lead the change.
Mr Sunak said he would legislate to ensure there is no repeat of the looming winter crisis when price cap rises threaten to take bills above £5,000 by early 2023.
The price cap, which is reviewed every three months and designed to protect consumers from price swings, was at £1,042 in January 2019.