Let me start by stating that I am proud that my constituents have such an active consciousness towards building a sustainable future both for Southend West, and nationally. Protecting the beauty and the local amenity of our countryside is something I consider to be incredibly important. At the same time, I fully appreciate the need to boost our national capacity for renewable energy.
The need for reliable, domestically produced renewables has never been more stark than now. We cannot rely on foreign regimes for our energy requirements. The Government’s announcement to boost the UK’s previous target to deliver up to 40GW of offshore wind, to delivering 50GW by 2030 sets out the ambition of the new Energy Security Strategy. I am sure that you will agree that this plan help to deliver renewable energy, especially from wind power, will help Britain to ensure energy security and to reduce our reliance on foreign regimes.
I would also like to say that the Government is maintaining the Energy Price Guarantee (EPG) until April 2024. As you may know, the EPG limits the amount that consumers can be charged per unit of gas or electricity. Although energy prices are currently below the level at which EPG payments would be made, its continuation through winter will protect consumers from price spikes. Alongside this, over 2023-24, the Government is providing targeted support to the most vulnerable through Cost-of-Living Payments, which will be paid to eight million households on eligible means-tested-benefits, six million people on eligible disability benefits, and eight million pensioner households. Additionally, to empower local authorities to provide discretionary support to those most in need, the Government has provided £1 billion of extra funding to the Household Support Fund, bringing the total of the fund to £2.5 billion. These measures will help to support those in need and help them to maintain their homes and heating.
Onshore wind is a key part of the Government’s strategy for low-cost decarbonisation of the energy sector. The planning permission for onshore wind would depend upon a project commanding local support and being able to satisfactorily address any impacts identified by the local community. Investing in onshore renewable sites is a project the Government is set on developing, and we have actively consulted on changes to the National Planning Policy Framework that would ensure planning permission for onshore wind in England is based on a project being able to satisfactorily address impacts identified by local communities and commanding local support.