Conservatives vs. Labour: Comparing Their Approach to Renewables

Topic: clean energy Read Time: 6 mins
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All | Independent landowners | Institutional landowners | Professional advisers | Site Operator
Energy:
Offshore wind | Onshore wind | Solar
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The final Conservative leadership vote is fast approaching, and the result of this election could have a major impact on businesses and landowners across Britain.

It’s always difficult to predict the outcome of a leadership race and how it may impact the British public. But if the chosen candidate doesn’t implement policies to tackle the cost of living crisis, the climate emergency, and rising energy prices, the tide may turn in favour of Labour at the next General Election.

Although many landowners and farmers have historically been Conservative voters, even the party’s staunchest supporters are now calling for changes to energy policies. With on-the-ground movements like #EnoughIsEnough gaining serious traction across the country, the clock is ticking for the Conservative government to make lasting and effective changes that will bring down the ever-rising cost of living.

We’ve recently spoken to several landowners who expressed concerns over the Conservative government’s approach to wind and solar power. As Sunak and Truss have both denounced onshore wind and solar farms in their campaigns, this is entirely understandable.

So, if you’re looking for a concise rundown on renewable energy policies from both parties, then you’ll want to stick around. 

We’ve gathered all the information you’ll need to make an informed decision on which party best supports your interests and aligns with your beliefs on the climate, energy, and the future of renewables.

Now let’s get to it.

The Policy Rundown

The Conservative and Labour parties have both discussed their thoughts on energy production, supply, and the climate crisis in their respective 2019 manifestos. Each party has since built on its original comments, and we will discuss any meaningful developments as we work through this article.

Conservatives

Renewables

In their manifesto, the Conservatives proudly stated that they would create a world-leading offshore wind industry that would reach 40GW by July 2030. Although planning permission has been granted for 649 individual wind and solar projects, these projects have not yet been built.

The party’s refusal to invest in onshore wind seems strange, as offshore wind has historically been more expensive than onshore alternatives. There have been a few recent offshore wind farms with incredible economies of scale, but these are few and far between.

The Conservative leadership candidates for 2022 have also made their disdain for solar power clear. Truss has been much more vocal about this, vowing to “get rid of solar farms” that she sees as a “blight” on the countryside.

The crackdown she proposes would work against the party’s net-zero promises while reducing energy produced by renewable sources.

Not only might this discourage landowners from taking up renewable energy projects to supplement their income, but it may embolden locals to complain about existing solar and wind farms.

Clean energy

The Conservatives have been slightly stronger in their approach to clean energy by removing the red diesel rebate scheme. This hasn’t been received well by the Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (REA), as they’re concerned about redundancies in the organic recycling industry.

Despite the impact on the waste management sector, this is an excellent step towards addressing the climate emergency. It will be difficult to navigate in the short term but should incentivise these industries to pursue cleaner alternatives in the future.

The party’s policies on clean energy are still complicated. Both Sunak and Truss have advocated for increased fracking which Labour is firmly against. As the process can contaminate water supplies, cause air pollution, and release tons of greenhouse gases, it’s as environmentally unfriendly as energy can get.

Labour

Renewables

Labour has a much stronger stance on renewables.

Not only have they offered to build 7,000 new offshore wind turbines and 2,000 onshore turbines, but they’re looking to double their offshore, floating, and fixed wind targets by 2030 to meet net-zero limits.

To further boost Britain’s base of renewables, the party also seeks to triple Britain’s solar base from the 14GW currently installed to a whopping 40GW by 2030. This should help soften the impending energy crisis and slow climate change.

Clean energy

The party is firmly against fracking in its manifesto and wishes to deliver 90% of electricity and 50% of heat from renewable or low-carbon sources by 2030. Their commitment to net-zero is similar to the Conservative party, but they’re looking to reach limits 20 years earlier.

To support this goal, they’re planning to introduce the Climate and Environmental Emergency Bill that will carefully outline strict standards for decarbonisation and environmental quality. 

Alongside this proposal, they have discussed a “National Transformation Fund” of £250 billion that would be used to create renewable and low-carbon energy solutions for the country.

Labour has also discussed introducing a Windfall Tax on oil companies that will force environmentally damaging businesses to cover the costs of their actions.

Although the Conservatives have also proposed a Windfall Tax on oil companies, they are actively penalising companies that invest in renewable sources over fossil fuels. If companies are willing to extract from the North Sea, they will receive a 90% tax break (which essentially negates the windfall tax).

This puts Labour at the forefront of clean energy efforts in parliament.

A Comparison Table of Party Policies

If you don’t have the time to sift through our detailed rundown, you can simply refer to this table of comparisons between the two parties. This should help you make an informed decision when it comes to the next General Election. Whether you’re advising landowners, are part of a finance team, or are a landowner yourself, this information should prove invaluable.

Policy AreaConservatives Labour
Wind• Not huge fans of onshore wind but have pledged that they will ensure the wind industry hits 40GW by 2030. Suntak has proposed banning onshore wind development entirely.
• They also have proposed the idea of using floating wind farms.
• Aiming to double onshore wind generation to double to 30GW by the end of this decade and will also lift the Conservatives’ 7-year ban on the technology.
• Offshore, fixed, and floating wind needs to double their targets by 2035.
• In their 2019 manifesto, Labour promised 7,000 new offshore wind turbines and 2,000 onshore turbines.
Solar• Under his chancellorship in October 2021, Sunak proposed new rates of tax relief for businesses fitting low-carbon technologies (including rooftop solar panels and battery storage).
• The Conservative leadership race has shown Truss’s and Sunak’s disdain for solar farms, with Truss particularly keen to use low and high-value land for farming.
• Labour is looking to triple Britain’s solar base from 14GW installed in 2022 to 40GW by 2030.
Net-Zero• The party is committed to achieving the net-zero limit by 2050, but their muddled approach to renewables is significantly impacting this. This must be achieved before the global temperature rises 1.5% (where irreversible climate damage occurs). • The party has been calling for a transition to net-zero by 2030.
Nuclear Power• Hinting at nuclear-heavy production going forward. • Less focus on hydrogen and nuclear. Claims that this is only to be used if necessary.
Climate Change• The party is committed to achieving the net-zero limit by 2050, but their muddled approach to renewables is significantly impacting this. This must be achieved before the global temperature rises 1.5% (where irreversible climate damage occurs).
• The potential leadership candidates are planning to increase fracking.
• The party wants to introduce a Climate and Environment Emergency Bill.
• Planning to introduce a Windfall Tax on oil companies.
• Want to immediately and permanently ban fracking.

What Does This Mean For Landowners?

The Bottom Line

Under Labour’s suggested policies, we would expect a significant increase in the current number of onshore wind farms. This would hugely benefit new and prospective landowners with a stable, long-term, and diversified income stream that would supplement their farming income.

As the prices of fertilizer and diesel have risen considerably over the years, a Labour government may relieve the enormous pressures currently faced by the farming community. It’s also worth noting that the loss of EU farming subsidies and low commodity prices after Brexit are still causing major strife for farmers.

Although farmers are often safe Conservative voters, the aggressive crackdown on renewables paired with post-Brexit reforms is muddying the waters slightly.

How will you vote when the time comes? Whichever way you lean politically, set yourself up for success by planning ahead and assessing your options.