Anne-Marie Trevelyan’s constituency of Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland, has tasted its fair share of battles over energy policy. Plans by Durham-based miners, The Banks Group, to produce coal near the picturesque Druridge Bay on the North Sea coast were approved by Northumberland County Council before being kicked out twice by Conservative ministers. Ms Trevelyan, 51, sided with local opponents to the mine, celebrating their victory in September 2020 after a “long fought battle to protect our communities”. Years earlier, in 2011, she spoke out against onshore wind developers wanting to “trash our landscape”. The experiences have perhaps given her a particular perspective as she takes on her new job as energy minister at a time of an unprecedented push towards renewable energy. Her boss, Boris Johnson, once dismissed wind power as too weak to “pull the skin off a rice pudding,” but has now put it at the heart of his strategy to cut carbon emissions to net zero by 2050. Fresh in the energy post, she demonstrates an early willingness to push back on advice to the government from its climate advisers, staunchly defending Cumbria County Council’s plan to approve a new mine to produce coking coal to make steel. The climate change committee has warned that the project will increase emissions while 85pc of the coal will be exported. Ms Trevelyan argues that its production of coking coal for the UK steel industries, which currently cannot run on anything else, gives it special status. “We can either get it here from that mine, which has the support of the local community and the local council, or we can import it,” she says. “We want to have a steel industry in order to be able to build our turbines, power stations, nuclear ships, our cars. So we can either offshore the carbon cost on this coking coal that we need and not take responsibility for it, or we can say, as part of our energy security, we consider it to be part of the cost.” Ms Trevelyan says nuclear is an “important part of our future”, voicing support both for emerging advanced and small modular reactors alongside established technology. “An important part of what we do is to kick-start all those components in the wider nuclear space along with making sure we deliver Hinkley and Sizewell and one other in the short term – relatively speaking – to make sure that nuclear baseload is embedded in our power supply,” she says.
Telegraph 7th Feb 2021 read more »