Rishi Sunak’s Energy Bill appears to be getting more support from the Labour Party than his own MPs as the Prime Minister faces a growing revolt from his side of the Commons.
The Energy Bill currently under consideration could lead to legal ramifications for homeowners across the country, as it includes provisions for imposing penalties on those who do not comply with new regulations.
These penalties include imprisonment of up to one year or fines amounting to £15,000.
A cabal of Tory MPs, including heavyweight Jacob Rees-Mogg, is set to rebel against the PM over the bill.
MP Craig Mackinlay described the bill as “horrendous” in a brutal rant on GB News, adding: “It’s a bill of yesteryear, it was founded on Boris who certainly drunk the Kool-Aid on many of these environmental issues.”
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The MP for South Thanet continued: “This is a truly horrific bill. It allows all sorts of intrusive powers to tell you exactly what you must and mustn’t do.
“I would rather it was scrapped and we start again.”
The mammoth Energy Bill also makes it easier for new onshore wind farms to be built if there is community support for them, with the PM again caving to pressure from green-leaning Tory MPs to amend the bill.
New onshore wind turbines have effectively been banned in England since 2015 due to planning rules that mean a single local objection could derail a development.
Liz Truss attempted to lift the ban during her brief stint in No10, but Mr Sunak then insisted the rules would remain.
It was only following pressure from 25 of his own MPs – notably Alok Sharma, an ex-Tory Cabinet minister who served as president of the COP26 climate summit – that he eventually agreed to amend the bill to remove the restrictions.
The Labour party is understood to support the bill in its current form.
This will make it more difficult for rebelling Tory MPs to successfully overturn it.
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However, Labour argues that the bill still does not go far enough in encouraging the construction of onshore wind.
Labour’s shadow energy and net zero secretary, Ed Miliband, said the planning system “remains stacked against onshore wind”.
RenewableUK echoed that view, with its head of onshore wind, James Robottom, who said the changes did not go far enough, and amounted to a “slight softening at the edges but nothing more”.
Sam Hall, director of the Conservative Environment Network, said the statement was “a positive step towards unblocking new onshore wind” that “significantly loosens the two planning tests created in 2015”.
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