April 2018: Your Local MP

March 26 2018

If we are to meet our carbon-reduction targets – and I know you agree we must – we need to invest in renewable energy generation.

If we are to meet our carbon-reduction targets – and I know you agree we must – we need to invest in renewable energy generation. 

Wind and solar are already commercially viable, but there are also other emerging technologies, such as tidal and wave power. In the UK we have massive untapped potential, possibly the largest in the world, for harnessing the power of our seas and oceans to generate power. And in the South West, there is particularly important potential in the Severn estuary and surrounding areas, presenting a huge opportunity as well as some challenges. 

I’ve prioritised tackling climate change in the roles I take up in Parliament. I’ve been part of the Labour Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy team (BEIS - as a Labour whip) and I am still in the Labour Environment, Food and Rural Affairs team (DEFRA, also as a Labour whip). These roles give me valuable opportunities to raise your concerns, suggestions and questions directly with these teams and feed them into policy development, challenging the government when we feel they are not doing enough. 

I’ve also taken up a two-year Study Fellowship with the Industry and Parliament Trust, to study the energy industry and battery technology. Last month I met with representatives in Swansea involved in developing the plan for the ‘Tidal Lagoon’ project. I was fascinated to learn about the technology behind it and see how public engagement with the people of Swansea has improved the potential for this project to benefit people across South Wales, the West Country and beyond. 

This month, I visited the UK Atomic Energy Authority in Culham, Oxfordshire, to learn about the research they are doing on nuclear fusion and spin-off technologies. Future visits to other sites will reveal more about renewable and carbon-neutral energy production and what I can do as an MP to help speed its uptake.

Nuclear fusion has huge possibilities. This is not the same as fission, the process used in existing nuclear power stations, with all the problems they have. In contrast, fusion is the process that occurs inside the Sun and all other stars, where atomic nuclei collide together and release energy in the form of neutrons. If harnessed, the technology would have many benefits, including no carbon emissions, abundant fuels around the world, high energy efficiency, no long-lived radioactive waste, safety (especially compared with nuclear fission) and reliable power. 

But it is not just the energy production – there are other benefits.

Tidal and wave power plants have potential to increase biodiversity. They would also create jobs in construction, operation and tourism. And at Culham, the research may create other spin-off technologies in diverse areas from driverless cars to robotics. There are many other benefits, including high quality apprenticeships.  

I want Bristol and the South West to be part of the new industrial revolution in low carbon energy. I’ll carry on learning, meeting local campaigners and businesses, and acting as your voice in Parliament for a cleaner, greener future.