Mark Drakeford: ‘Bring the National Grid under public control’
The First Minister has accused the UK Government of having no offshore wind strategy and says he wants the National Grid brought under public control.
Speaking in First Minister’s Questions yesterday (17 January) Mr Drakeford made the comments in response to a question from Huw Irranca Davies MS for Ogmore.
When discussing the economic potential of renewable energy in the Celtic Sea, Mr Irranca Davies also spoke of the need for local grid connections to bring the electricity onshore.
“We need the National Grid to be strengthened as well … what discussions are you going to have with the UK Government, and the regulator … Wales deserves its fair share in the grid as well. We can do so much on our own but we need the UK to step up.”
Mr Drakeford said: “There is still no offshore wind industrial strategy out of the UK Government … As to the grid – because it is called the National Grid people don’t realise that it’s a private company, listed on the stock market – distributing a billion pounds every year in dividends to shareholders.
“Indeed, it distributed £4.5 billion in 2017 alone directly into the hands of shareholders, when we know there’s not enough investment going into the vital connections the grid provides.”
Referring to an article he’d read this week by Professor of Green Economics, Molly Scott Cato, Mr Drakeford added:
“(It) said there are nearly 700 renewable energy projects on hold across the UK waiting for the National Grid to find them capacity. My own preference would to bring the National Grid under public control so that it would be run in the public interest, and where there was no leakage into private profits of the resources of that company.”
Natural Resources Wales
On the subject of supporting renewable energy projects in the Celtic Sea, Samuel Kurtz MS, wanted assurances that: “Welsh Government and Natural Resources Wales (NRW) will act in a timely manner to ensure these opportunities aren’t lost.”
Mark Drakeford said: “I have been in meetings with NRW myself and I know the Minister (Lesley Griffiths) has a meeting with NRW today to talk about the end-to-end marine licencing review.”
Adding that it was an independent review, Mr Drakeford said: “The consultants said that there was nothing fundamentally that needed to be repaired in the current regime but there were ways it could be made to work more effectively.”
Natural Resources Wales have a £241.9 million budget from the public purse in 2022-23.
Mr Drakeford said: “It is for NRW to ensure that they have the necessary resources in place to deal with those applications. In a way that respects the very important responsibilities they have as an environmental regulator but also to recognise the huge opportunities that renewable energy has for Wales.”
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