Lancaster floating solar under construction
Lancaster floating solar under construction

As you know, one of my greatest concerns is the environment and how little time we’ve got left to bring in policies that protect our planet. As I write this, Cuadrilla has again had to stop operations due to another earth tremor – this time measuring 0.8 – the highest since it started and the 17th earthquake in 9 days of operations.

Conversely, here in the constituency United Utilities is building a floating solar farm on the surface of Langthwaite Reservoir in Lancaster.

The power generated will be used to run the neighbouring Lancaster water treatment works which supplies water to 152,000 people across Lancaster, Morecambe and Heysham.

The new floating array at Lancaster will be around 7,200 square metres in size with some 3,520 solar panels.  The installation will cover an area the size of a football pitch and will provide 1MW of power – the equivalent of the needs of 200 homes.

This will be United Utilities’ second floating solar installation. The company installed Europe’s first commercial floating solar array at its Godley reservoir near Manchester in February 2016.  That array is three times the size of the one proposed at Lancaster and can generate 3GWh of electricity per year.

Importantly this installation will now provide an opportunity for scientists from the University of Lancaster to study the effect this kind of renewable energy scheme has on water quality.

This is exactly the sort of scheme being proposed by the Labour Party to be rolled out across the country. I find it incomprehensible that this government refuses to embrace and invest in renewables. Instead it gives the go-ahead to companies like Cuadrilla to attempt to extract oil and gas by fracturing the earth – ignoring  the concerns and wishes of councils and local people and even the advice from leading scientists from across the world.

Last month those scientists warned that fossil fuel use must be cut dramatically to limit temperature rises. They say there’s only a dozen years left for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5C. Once it goes up by even half a degree there will be a significant risk of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people – including us here in the UK.

It’s critical we re-engage with countries seeking to walk away from the Paris Climate Accords. But we must also lead by example.

Labour has set out plans for energy that are ambitious, will create hundreds of thousands of jobs and will make Britain the only developed country outside Scandinavia to be on track to meet our climate change obligations. By 2030 we’re committed to creating a sevenfold increase in offshore windfarms and a tripling of solar power, enabling nearly 20m homes to be powered by wind and solar. By 2030 we would double the number of onshore windfarms. Our programme of investment and transformation to achieve a 60% reduction in emissions by 2030 would create over 400,000 skilled jobs – a Green Jobs Revolution that would help tackle climate change, provide sustainable energy for the future and create skilled jobs in every nation and region of the UK. There is no bigger threat facing humanity than climate change. Let’s create a safer future for our children and grandchildren.

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