Douglas Carswell

20 OCT 2015

The problem isn't China's steel-dumping. It's our failed energy policy.

The British steel industry is in crisis. As the UK currently faces an inflow of Chinese steel, many are pointing the finger at China. But the real problem isn't Chinese policy. It's ours.

British steel producers have been struggling to compete in global markets for years: the value of the UK steel industry has declined by 42% since 1990. And one of the main things holding the industry back is the Government's energy policy.

For an energy intensive industry like steel production, raising the price of energy has an enormous impact on the cost of production. Yet – in their quixotic quest to cut carbon emissions - this is precisely what successive Governments have done.

The Government's green obsession costs energy consumers billions of pounds a year. Last year, we paid a record £46 billion in green taxes. Ed Miliband's 2008 Climate Change Act alone intentionally raises the cost of energy for British consumers by an average of £18 billion every year.

Green taxes are regressive. They harm everyone, but hurt the poorest most of all. As we approach winter, they will be the direct cause of many people being unable to heat their homes.

But industrial producers suffer most of all. Because of green taxes and regulation, industrial electricity prices in Britain today are over 50% higher than those in other major EU economies.

To understand the impact of energy policy, just consider how cheap energy should be. Thanks to American shale, wholesale energy prices should be falling in the UK – like they are in the US. Right now, British industry has a plentiful and cheap source of energy readily available, but can't make use of it – all because of green legislation. The Government has simply broken the energy market.

Yet – astonishingly – the Government can't even see the problem. When I joined UKIP last year, the first backbench debate I triggered was on energy policy. I quoted DECC's own figures to show that the State was systematically driving up energy prices by requiring energy producers to increase the proportion of electricity they generate from renewables. But the Minister responsible - contradicting his own department - told the House that wholesale energy prices are "beyond the control of any government."

We need a government that will set our energy market free. Government price-fixing is not just costing jobs in industry, but the lives of pensioners who can no longer afford to pay their heating bills. But the Establishment parties have all colluded with Big Green to rig the energy market against the interests of the people.

If we want to break the energy cartel, we need to break the political cartel first.

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