MP's Column

All eyes may appear to be on the coronavirus outbreak but life after this crisis needs to be very different to what we had become accustomed to. It is possible to accelerate our decarbonisation journey and Government is rightly progressing measures to tackle climate change and meet our commitment to reach net-zero emissions and address fuel poverty. MPs such as myself (representing rural constituencies with a high proportion of off gas grid households) are working with partners such as Calor on how we achieve these objectives in relation to heat, energy efficiency and fuel poverty. There is a risk that the policies pursued leave rural communities behind. Rural communities already lag behind urban in support for energy efficiency improvements so it is vital that we address this imbalance and develop good models that help rural areas such as West Cornwall to improve our homes in an affordable way! There are two proposals to achieve this! Firstly, don’t assume full electrification is the solution! A mixed technology approach, including affordable green gas such as BioLPG - would save £7bn compared to 100% electrification of heat. In 2019 Calor supplied enough BioLPG to meet the equivalent of 20% of its domestic central heating demand.

Secondly, provide financial support to encourage green gas production for off-gas grid homes (the Government currently subsidises biomethane through the Renewable Heat Incentive and provides financial support for Hydrogen demonstration projects). Legislation is being drafted now in relation to more energy efficient homes and I’m keen that we don’t inadvertently penalise those of us who live in rural areas! 

I hope the situation has changed by the time you read this but it is very troubling that the Dominic Cummings issue has taken so much of the media and Government’s energy. Whatever is the right course of action we are still in the middle of a national crisis and there are so many more important things to focus on. The situation should have been handled very differently and Prime Minister should have seized control of the situation from the minute the story broke. Irrespective of the behaviour of one or two individuals in high office, the fact remains that it is in everyone’s interest that we continue to observe the social distancing guidance and lockdown restrictions. My hope is that people do not relax and think these restrictions do not matter simply because of this debacle! Please stick to what has united us thus far, beating coronavirus!

On a more positive note you can help feed the nation! There are a wide range of paid jobs available on the ‘Pick for Britain’ website (even for those who are furloughed). Visit pickforbritain.org.uk and help back British farmers!