Laura Sandys press release
Some of us have been warning the UK Government that sitting around waiting for Russia to take control of our energy security is a dangerous strategy. I have seen for myself the impact of countries under the thumb of Russian energy dominance. In Georgia I saw a man shot in the head allegedly at the instructions of Russian energy interests; I have been in a former Soviet country’s capital city where the whole city’s electricity was turned off to get the attention of the population sending a clear message that although they might pretend to be independent, Russia still is in control.
This is not a friendly world and energy even more than the 1970’s is being used as a highly toxic political tool. In the 70s at least OPEC was only interested in taking our money – now we face a threat that resides with geo-politics – control, spheres of influence and a form of energy war being played out in the former Soviet Union countries with clear impacts to be felt in the UK. What happens in Baku can turn the lights out in Darlington!
For over ten years this emergence of energy politics has been raising its head – it is not a new phenomenon. Despite Government reviews; white papers; independent assessment absolutely nothing has happened in this country to secure our energy sources. The UK renewable sector is only just starting and is getting less support than in other countries, our gas storage capacity is negligible, nuclear energy has been an on-off option, and energy efficiency has been a Government mantra with no policies of substance to back up the headlines.
Internationally this Government has not engaged effectively either. Our diplomatic presence in Central Asia is pitiful, our energy strategy in the region does not exist; our commercial impact is limited and our political interests are not understood by potential Central Asian partners.
If a Government’s prime responsibility is security, then energy security is one of the most important components. In my view this Government has ducked the real decisions to secure our energy supply and left us in a vulnerable negotiating position. Not an impressive track record!