Opinion: 'How North Norfolk will benefit from net zero target'

Houses under construction in north Norfolk.

Houses under construction in north Norfolk. - Credit: Chris Bishop

In his latest monthly column, North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker writes about the government's new energy strategy, and how this area will benefit.

Since being elected in 2019, there are a handful of issues that perennially emerge. So many care about our beautiful home that whenever I knock on a door, the need for a more environmentally sustainable future, job creation, and the cost of energy always crops-up.

It’s hearing of your views on the doorstep, which has caused me to make these three issues very central to my recent campaigning as our MP.

North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker.

North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker. - Credit: Richard Townshend Photography

You’ll have seen me use my last Prime Minister’s Question to raise the topic of fuel prices and heating oil, a problem for so many of us.

It’s therefore why I’m pleased to have seen some of these issues addressed in the government’s new ‘British Energy Security Strategy’.

This is a far-reaching strategy which will ultimately catalyse the green industrial revolution currently being overseen by this government, across the UK.

Post-Covid, it’s our intention to build back greener – this recent announcement fundamentally provides us with yet more funding, research, and industry support, to go and do just that.

Onshore and off-shore wind is the most popular form of renewable energy in the UK. 

Onshore and off-shore wind is the most popular form of renewable energy in the UK. - Credit: Archant 2012

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It’s stated that, remarkably, the measures within it will allow some 95pc of Great Britain’s electricity to be produced in a ‘low carbon’ way by 2030.

This is of course, no mean feat, but shows there to be a genuine desire within government to get on with – let’s face it – what we all know needs to be done.

Indeed, I know this to be an important issue for many of you and for different reasons. As I’ve said before, but will say again, we’re blessed to live where we do.

The beauty of the natural world defines us, here, and we must do all that we can to protect it.

Mr Baker has brought a bill to the House of Commons which is calling on the Government to make the

Mr Baker has brought a bill to the House of Commons which is calling on the Government to make the process of constructing new buildings more energy efficient. - Credit: PA

For many, it’s about, also, the need for us to be guardians, looking after the planet for future generations. We also need to think on the way in which our actions affect others, in farer-flung parts of the world.

However, whilst also working to ensure that the UK takes the reigns when it comes to the environmental commitments which were made at COP26 – as well as our commitment to be a net zero nation by 2050 – this new strategy will also perform two other core functions which will benefit us here, in North Norfolk.

Again, many of you have rightly been saying that we need to temper the rising cost of simply living. We’ve been seeing rising energy prices, food become more expensive, and other basic consumer goods, being marked-up.

Connected to this, there’s clearly strong appetite for a more diverse jobs market, in the constituency. As someone working in the Department for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities, this is something I want to see delivered.

Indeed, it’s why I’m pleased to be seeing this strategy being outlined – by 2030, we’ll see 40,000 more jobs in clean, environmentally-friendly, industries, created. This will bring the total figure to some 480,000 by the same year.

Given how strong our clean energy industries are, in North Norfolk, this will of course, have a positive knock-on effect for many, offering economic opportunity to many potential employees and business opportunities for those organisations operating across a number of sectors.

We want new jobs to be created and they must be relevant, accessible, and beneficial, to those that already live and work here.

This will bring up wages rates and help many with the cost of living, in the long-term. Indeed, to add to this, the strategy will see communities like our own being put in

control of energy production – in exchange for lower energy bills. I understand that many need help now – and for that I will continue to campaign for us to see further support, to complement the packages already provided by the government – but we have to recognise this strategy as being something which could revolutionarily lessen the amount we have to pay for our energy, for years to come. This is hugely exciting.

This is all positive to see. However, I also write to say that I’ll be continuing to take what you’re saying to Parliament.

Many of you are saying that there’s still work to be done when it comes to ensuring that we reach net zero by 2050. I agree, we still need to be doing more if we are to confirm our place as a global leader on green issues.

What needs to be accompanying this strategy is a clear plan outlining the way in which we this domestically-produced, renewable energy, can be used efficiently. It’s great for us to be producing more energy, in a more sustainable way, at home, but the impact of our work will be diminished if the buildings in which we live and work aren’t keeping in the heat, aren’t being built in an emission-conscious manner, and aren’t producing the electricity needed for them to operate.

I’ve been operating on the Environmental Audit Committee, a cross-party body in Parliament, to address this.

I’ve brought a bill to the House of Commons which is calling on the Government to make the process of constructing new buildings more energy efficient. We’ve just seen a cut in the VAT having to be paid on insulation, but I, like many of you, think that we can go further on this – thinking back on schemes which have been offered in the past.

Finally, I want us to be going beyond the heat pump installation targets set by this government. For our rural area, this needs to happen.

I want to see more jobs, cheaper energy, and a greener North Norfolk. I will not stop until we realise these aims. Thank you all for your continued support, conversations, and ideas.