Labour plans billion pound public investment in offshore wind and electric cars

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Wind farm off the Lancashire coastImage copyright Reuters
Image caption Labour says the offshore wind sector is too dominated by foreign firms

Labour is pledging to invest billion of pounds in electric car production and offshore wind generation to accelerate the “green industrial revolution”.

A future Labour government would take equity stakes in car producers in return for a £3bn capital investment in new electric models and machinery.

Thirty-seven publicly-owned wind farms will be built, with the profits used to regenerate deprived coastal areas.

Delegates will also debate the pace of decarbonisation at the conference.

Earlier this year, Parliament approved a law requiring the UK to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, a stricter target compared with the previous one of at least an 80% reduction from 1990 levels.

But the Momentum campaign group is leading calls for Labour to adopt an even more ambitious timetable, with the aim of reaching zero net emissions by 2030.

Some unions are concerned this is too ambitions and want guarantees that it will not lead to massive job losses in the automotive, energy and industrial sectors.

‘Under siege’

Firms will be able to bid for funding over two years to bring new models to market, in return for the government taking an equity stake in their business.

A further £2.3bn will be set aside to build three battery plants to supply electric cars. The plants are earmarked for South Wales, Stoke and Swindon – the latter potentially on the site of the Honda factory due to close in 2021.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Labour hopes a new electric battery plant can be built at the Honda factory in Swindon

Labour has already signalled this week it would spend £3.6bn on new electric charging infrastructure and introduce 2.5 million interest free loans to spur the take-up of electric models.

Announcing the new plans, Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long Bailey said the state should “not be afraid to intervene” to ensure the success of the automotive sector in light of the huge technological and economic challenges it faced.

“The sector is under siege from Brexit uncertainty and the government’s lack of ambition on electrification,” she will say.

“At the same time, we need to accelerate the shift away from fossil-powered cars if we are to tackle the climate emergency.

“Labour’s support package will offer a lifeline for a new clean era of manufacturing.”

‘People’s Power Fund’

In a series of green energy announcements on Tuesday, Labour will commit to using billions in public money to accelerate the transition to carbon-free transport and power systems.

Labour is also planning an unprecedented intervention in the renewables industry, modelled on countries including Norway, Sweden and Denmark.

To counter what it says is the domination of foreign firms in the UK’s offshore market, it is proposing to take a 51% stake in a new public-private venture which would build 37 new offshore wind farms capable of supplying the energy needs of 57 million households.

Profits from the scheme would be reinvested in the wider energy network as well as a “People’s Power Fund” – which would see up to £1bn each year for recreational and leisure facilities in struggling coastal communities.

This, Labour says, will create 67,000 high-skilled jobs in Scotland, East Anglia, Yorkshire and North-East England.

“The UK has the opportunity to avoid replicating Britain’s experience with North Sea oil,” Ms Long Bailey will say.

“By taking a stake in offshore wind, we can collectively benefit from the profits, investing them into our held-back communities.”

The Conservatives said the wind farms plan could cost up to £80bn and that “nationalising huge swathes of the energy network” would set back efforts to tackle climate change.

“It is by working with business that we’ve ensured offshore wind will provide more than a third of our electricity by 2030, tripling the number jobs in the industry and keeping bills low for consumers,” said Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom.

Brexit victory

The first three days in Brighton were dominated by Brexit divisions and internal wrangling.

But Jeremy Corbyn received a major boost to his authority on Monday when delegates backed his “wait and see” policy of leaving a decision about which side the party would back in another Brexit referendum until after the next general election.

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Tom Watson will make his keynote speech to conference after a week of drama

Members endorsed the leadership’s approach of offering voters another public vote next year, with the options of Leave or Remain, with Labour’s stance to be decided nearer the time at a one-off conference.

MPs who want the party to commit right now and unambiguously to staying in the EU expressed disappointment at the outcome.

Deputy Leader Tom Watson, who has led calls for a more assertive pro-EU position and who survived efforts to oust him on Friday, will address the conference on Tuesday.

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