Nick Ferrari presses Climate Minister who refuses to rule out energy rationing this winter

7 October 2022, 08:46 | Updated: 7 October 2022, 09:27

Climate Minister refuses to rule out energy rationing this winter

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Minister refuses to rule out energy rationing but claims Brits will not be told how to conserve power as "we're not a nanny-state government"

Climate minister Graham Stuart would not rule out energy rationing when pressed.

Asked by Nick Ferrari at Breakfast on LBC if he could rule out energy rationing this winter, Mr Stuart said: "The National Grid, we get to do it independently, and they do their assessment. They've said it's very unlikely."

Asked again, he said "it's impossible to...", before being interrupted and pressed over whether the Government's position was a U-turn on Liz Truss's position during her leadership campaign.

Read more: Liz Truss 'stops campaign that would tell people to turn off their radiators' - amid plans to pay people £10 a day to switch off electric to avoid blackouts

Asked again, Mr Stuart said: "We are not planning to have that. It is not our intention to have it and we are doing everything possible to mean that it should not happen."

Pressed over the apparent change in rhetoric on the issue, Mr Stuart said: "Events move on, as you well know. We've seen all sorts of threats to our energy security."

His comments come after a report from the body that oversees Britain's electricity grid.

In what it called an "unlikely" scenario, the National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) said that households and businesses might face planned three-hour outages to ensure that the grid does not collapse.

Watch: What’s more 70s than eating by candlelight? Woodbines and Noddy Holder, says Andrew Marr

The moment Liz Truss pledged 'no energy rationing'.

Mr Stuart said "we're not a nanny-state government" and outlined why a general message to use less energy would "probably make no difference".

Speaking to Nick and asked why the Prime Minister might be opposed to a public information campaign on reducing energy consumption, Mr Stuart said: "Technically, a general campaign about reducing energy would probably make no difference to our energy security. So, that would be a good reason not to do it.

Read more: Asda launches £1 'winter warmer' meal deal for over 60s amid soaring costs and threat of blackouts

"We're also hesitant to tell people what they should do when we're not a nanny-state government. What we are prepared to do is talk to the big energy users and talk to consumers with smart technology about rewarding them for reducing energy at the peak times.

"The danger is if you had a sort of general 'use less energy'

Planned blackouts hit the UK during the 1970s in response to the miners' strikes and the oil crisis.

There have also been major unplanned outages during storms, including in 1987 when more than 1.5 million people were left in the dark.

But the lights will stay on this winter unless the gas-fired power plants that produced 43% of Britain's electricity over the last year cannot get enough gas to continue operating.

It is the most dire of three possible scenarios that the ESO laid out on Thursday for how Britain's electricity grid might cope with the worst global energy crisis for decades.

In the other two scenarios, the operator hopes that by paying people to charge their electric cars at off-peak times, and firing up back-up coal plants, it can offset the risk of blackouts.

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