Select Committee on Environmental Audit Written Evidence

Memorandum submitted by the Country Land and Business Association (CLA)


  The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) represents approximately 40,000 members who between them own and manage more than half the rural land in England and Wales. We have long held concerns on the effect of climate change on our members property and businesses, and published a ground breaking report in 2002 "Climate Change and the Rural Economy", available from our website at

  More recently we have undertaken our own review of current renewable energy policy, a copy of which (together with a copy of the executive summary) we are pleased to enclose by way of the substantive element of our response to the EAC enquiry [not printed].



  Whilst we were unable to quantify the real extent of the generation gap in our report, we recognised that current policy is unlikely to deliver secure and sustainable energy supplies in order to keep the lights on in 2020.

  We have laid out a range of policy recommendations, set out in the paper, which we consider are likely to deliver sufficient carbon neutral electricity generation, at the same time as delivering significant carbon savings in other forms of energy supply, notably in renewable heat and transport fuels.

  Clearly, maintaining a secure and stable electricity generation capacity is a key target. Our members, like other business and domestic consumers rely on electricity. However, we have pointed out that, even in renewables, carbon savings can be achieved at lower costs in the heat sector which has so far been ignored in policy terms. We find this astonishing, given that more than a third of UK emissions are created in space and process heating.

  It is for this reason we fully support the proposed "Renewable Heat Obligation" set out in Mr Mark Lazorowicz MP's private members "Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Bill" which we urge the EAC to support at its second reading on 11 November 2005.


  Our report "Renewable Energy: More than Wind" deals with the relative costs and benefits of alternative technologies. We have not sought to cost nuclear generation, it being outside our area of expertise, but have brought together information on relative carbon savings from different policy options.

  Our analysis leads us to the conclusion that addressing the requirement to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will add costs, but that in order to secure a thriving economy, energy efficiency alone cannot be relied on.

  We have factored in a wide range of external costs and benefits which we see flowing from different forms of renewable energy, and have flagged up the very large contribution that the countryside can make to the mix.

  We would urge the EAC to recognise the importance of renewable delivery outside of the electricity sector. Whilst this is important, it can only ever address the current GHG produced in that sector: some 25% of the UK total. Renewables have a place in addressing the remaining 75%.

  Our policy recommendations are designed to ensure that the countryside, and rural business, can make the maximum contribution possible to delivery of secure and sustainable energy supplies.

  We are confident that the capacity exists to deliver were our recommendations adopted.


  The design of the Renewables Obligation, in a "one size fits all" policy, together with the New Electricity Trading Arrangements, has ensured that wind power has secured very nearly all the capital investment available.

  We see real dangers in this policy in terms of long term security of supply. Our analysis shows that costs rise significantly when wind power provides more than 10% of supply (owing to its intermittency) and that even this level required significant investment in the network which is not costed to the generators.

  We see a real opportunity for a more widely dispersed and sustainable local generation policy, in which system risks are minimised by a large number of smaller scale local generators, backed up by stable load generation and the National Grid.

  This implies that nuclear has a future, but we doubt that current policies will deliver the required investment, nor will the private sector alone be able to deliver the necessary waste management solution.


  Our report, cited above, shows that very large public benefits can be delivered in building capacity other than nuclear generation. In particular, we would point to the huge benefit to the range of public goods and services provided in the countryside through improved management of woodlands, new planting, and reduction of waste disposal.

  That said, we are concerned that the strategic importance of security of supply, in particular in relation to intermittent wind generation, has not been recognised in renewable policy to date.

  It is for this reason we argue that less should be paid to intermittent generators, and more to secure and stable generators, under a banded Renewable Obligation (RO).

  We doubt that the RO is suitable or capable for securing replacement nuclear generation capacity.

  We regard the replacement, and perhaps enhancement, of existing nuclear generation on the same sites as at present, as important alongside new renewable energy development. We agree it is necessary for replacement to take place to keep the lights on, and whilst there are undoubted risks in respect of security and terrorism, we do not regard these as fatal. Indeed, the current policy option of increased imports of compressed natural gas by ship presents more numerous and rather harder to defend targets to terrorism activity. Our report quotes the RUSI analysis that details security concerns on increasing exposure to risk as the UK becomes a net energy importer.


  We see little conflict between a new nuclear replacement policy and a wider and more sustainable renewable energy policy taking in heat and transport fuels.

  The necessary precursor is that Nuclear should have its own support mechanism, separate from renewables more generally, and that steps should be taken to resolve the question of nuclear waste.

  We regard a wide mix of renewables in all sectors, including microgeneration, SME based CHP or heat units, and regional renewables installations as being as important as nuclear. We do not suggest that there is one magic bullet.

  Even if all electricity generation was nuclear, UK would still face a huge challenge in energy efficiency in order to meet the RCEP 2050 target for GHG reductions. We do not see such efficiencies arising without an overall reduction in economic activity and consequently our standard of living, and therefore regard it as essential we seek renewable energy in the heat and transport sectors.


  Please see our report [not printed].


  Yes, subject to a reasonable risk assessment. We do not see that an absolute guarantee is feasible in this area.

23 September 2005

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