Tory MPs have lashed out at Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party conference pledge to use wind farms to power every home in the UK within a decade as they said the Prime Minister should be focused on the battle against coronavirus.
The Government already had a target to increase the amount of electricity generated by offshore wind from the current level of 10 gigawatts to 30GW by 2030 but the target is now being increased to 40GW.
Analysts have warned the pledge could ultimately cost £50 billion and will require a new turbine to be installed every weekday during the 2020s.
Mr Johnson defended his plans against critics who he said used to believe that wind power ‘wouldn’t pull the skin off a rice pudding’.
But the decision to make the wind power announcement one of the centrepieces of the PM’s address has sparked anger among some Conservative MPs given the current coronavirus pandemic.
One Tory backbencher told Politico: ‘This is the biggest disaster since 1945. Do we really think £160 million for floating windmills is going to make everyone forget?’
Another Tory MP questioned whether the PM would actually deliver on the pledge, telling MailOnline: ‘The devil will be in the detail – it is always easy to announce these things.
‘Everything is “over the next decade” but they won’t be there. There is no way he [Mr Johnson] will be there in 10 years’ time.’
The MP said the wind farms pledge would likely ‘become someone else’s problem down the line’.
Labour also suggested the PM should be focusing on the pandemic, with deputy leader Angela Rayner saying Mr Johnson should ‘set out how he will get a grip and tackle the crisis at hand’.
Boris Johnson today pledged to use wind farms to power every home in the UK within a decade
Experts suggested the Government’s push to expand offshore wind farms could ultimately cost £50 billion
Boris Johnson attacks wind farm critics with reheated ‘rice pudding’ power jibe – despite making the same claim himself
Boris Johnson today attacked critics of wind turbines who had previously complained they were too weak to ‘pull the skin off a rice pudding’ – critics who appear to include himself.
The Prime Minister today unveiled plans to use wind farms to power every home in the UK within a decade.
In his virtual address to the online conference he repeated an often-used quip – including in his 2019 conference speech – about the perceived weakness of wind turbines.
‘I remember how some people used to sneer at wind power, twenty years ago, and say that it wouldn’t pull the skin off a rice pudding,’ he said today as he claimed Britain could become the ‘Saudi Arabia of wind’.
‘They forgot the history of this country. It was offshore wind that puffed the sails of Drake and Raleigh and Nelson, and propelled this country to commercial greatness.
‘This investment in offshore wind alone will help to create 60,000 jobs in this country – and help us to get to net zero carbon emissions by 2050.’
However, in a 2013 interview when he was mayor of London, Mr Johnson himself attacked wind power as he said that the UK should pursue shale gas fracking instead.
Mr Johnson told LBC seven years ago: ‘Labour put in a load of wind farms that failed to pull the skin off a rice pudding.
‘We now have the opportunity to get shale gas – let’s look at it.’
Mr Johnson defended the decision to commit to wind power as he hit out at critics who used to claim that the turbines ‘wouldn’t pull the skin off a rice pudding’.
The PM said those people ‘forgot the history of this country’ and that it was ‘offshore wind that puffed the sails of Drake and Raleigh and Nelson’.
Mr Johnson this morning set out his green energy plan which will see thousands of coastal turbines built in the coming years.
The premier pledged to move at ‘gale force speed’ to make Britain the world leader in offshore wind technology and create up to 60,000 jobs.
Today’s announcement will see the Government invest £160million in upgrading ports and infrastructure in areas including Teesside and the Humber to help manufacture and install the next generation of offshore turbines.
Mr Johnson also pledged to install 1GW of floating turbines around the coast – 15 times the world’s total current capacity.
A report published by Aurora Energy Research suggested increasing the offshore target to 40GW could ultimately cost £50 billion.
The firm said: ‘Analysis by Aurora Energy Research shows that reaching the 40GW by 2030 target will require 30GW of capacity to be commissioned during the 2020s- three times as much as that installed during the 2010s.
‘This would require one turbine to be installed every weekday during the whole of the 2020s, and almost £50bn in capital investment.’
Labour’s shadow energy secretary Ed Miliband said the UK’s commitment to green energy ‘pales in comparison’ to its European neighbours.
He said: ‘Nothing in the Prime Minister’s re-announcement today on wind energy targets will tackle the immediate jobs crisis our country faces. We need ambition on renewable energy, but Boris Johnson rarely delivers on his rhetoric.’
Many in Westminster believe Mr Johnson has become a firmer advocate for green policies since becoming PM, with some suggesting his partner Carrie Symonds, an environmental campaigner, has influenced his views.
Mr Johnson said today that his wind power pledge would mean ‘your kettle, your washing machine, your cooker, your heating, your plug-in electric vehicle – the whole lot of them will get their juice cleanly and without guilt from the breezes that blow around these islands’.
He promised to make the UK to wind power what ‘Saudi Arabia is to oil’.
‘I remember how some people used to sneer at wind power, 20 years ago, and say that it wouldn’t pull the skin off a rice pudding,’ he said.
‘They forgot the history of this country. It was offshore wind that puffed the sails of Drake and Raleigh and Nelson, and propelled this country to commercial greatness.’
Downing Street said ‘it is not about government investment alone’ when the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman was asked about the £50bn cost estimate.
The spokesman said that by increasing the target for offshore wind the Government is ‘providing certainty’ to the private sector so firms can ‘invest with confidence’.