Lower bills for those living near nuclear power stations?

The Education Secretary has supported the idea of loosening planning laws for onshore wind

People living close to nuclear power stations and onshore wind farms could get lower energy bills.

The government is expected to publish its energy security strategy within the next few days – the new guidance is believed to have a clear push on renewables and nuclear power.

It is also predicted to support the North Sea oil and gas industry to cut the UK’s reliance on energy imports.

It had previously been reported that there was a debate on whether to relax planning laws to allow more onshore wind farms to be built.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi signed a letter opposing onshore wind in 2012.

Asked about whether he has regretted that move, Mr Zahawi told Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme: “No, I would say that if we are going to make sure that we carry the will of local people whether its onshore, wind or nuclear, we have to learn from how it’s done well in other countries.

“The way you do that is making sure that local community have a real say and what want onshore wind if that’s what they want to have.

“But also, we have seen great examples in other countries where if they build a nuclear power station within a certain radius of that power station people get free power.”

A few days ago, business leaders met with Energy Minister Greg Hands to discuss how the government could increase investment in energy storage technologies.

Nadhim Zahawi added: “It’s right to look at innovation to make sure that we wean ourselves off hydrocarbons, we have to do that, we have to do that well, part of that is making sure that we look after the will of the local people.”

He also said that he would agree with the idea that planning laws should be relaxed to allow more onshore wind, “only if the local community supports having more onshore wind”.

The government has already acknowledged the important role onshore wind plays in the UK’s energy mix – the technology currently accounts for around a quarter of installed renewable energy capacity in the UK, the most of any renewable technology.

A government spokesperson told ELN: “We continue to support people across the UK with the cost of energy bills as part of a generous £21 billion package of support, while the energy price cap continues to insulate millions from high global gas prices.

“We want to boost the use of cheap renewable energy to reduce our dependence on expensive fossil fuels, with solar and wind now much cheaper than fossil fuels.

“Our upcoming energy security strategy will supercharge our renewable energy and nuclear capacity as well as supporting our North Sea oil and gas industry.”

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