The Government are sticking their heads in the sand and making stories up as they go in an attempt to justify axing the £1 billion programme for carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects in the UK, according to Alex Cunningham.
The Stockton North MP, who is also co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on CCS, raised the loss of funding in the House of Commons this morning.
More than £100 million has been invested by the Government, alongside significant private sector funds over three and a half years. But the continuing funding for the first two projects – at Peterhead in Scotland and Humberside in England – was axed by George Osborne alongside his autumn statement last month, just weeks before a decision on the projects was due to be taken and even before the final economic case was presented to Government.
The Labour MP raised the issue to highlight the decision which the CCS industry has described as disastrous – and which could have a knock-on effect on other projects such as the one on Teesside to develop the first industrial CCS project and which could have protected and created thousands of jobs in the area.
After his request for a House of Commons debate on the implications of the decision was rejected by the Leader of the House, who demonstrated his own ignorance of the benefits of CCS and the information behind the decision, Alex said:
“I’m amazed that the Leader of House could stand up in Parliament and say that the projects were not financially viable when all advice submitted to the Government, including the Committee on Climate Change’s recommendations for the 5th Carbon Budget, has CCS as an important part of the UK’s decarbonisation plan.
“Carbon capture and storage is central to Britain tackling climate change. But for Teesside, it could also mean a renaissance for industry and the creation of many thousands of jobs, all so desperately needed to replace the thousands lost in recent weeks in the steel, mining and construction industries. I know our Teesside project continues to make tremendous progress and could still proceed, but I’m concerned about the Government’s whole attitude to CCS.”
The Stockton North MP was also angered by the Leader of the House’s statement on job creation in the North East. Commenting, Alex said:
“I don’t know what parallel dimension the Leader of the House is living in, claiming that all is well on Teesside as the Government is creating jobs, when even he should know of the massive job losses and increasing unemployment across the North East. Making up stories about a rosy picture is not helpful to the people of Teesside.”