Tories warn of '10 years of drift' on energy supplies

Britain's vulnerability to interruptions over energy supplies has been exposed by the prolonged cold spell, the Tories have warned.

Britain's vulnerability to interruptions over energy supplies has been exposed by the prolonged cold spell, the Tories have warned.

Shadow energy secretary Greg Clark told the Commons: "Current energy policy isn't adequately prepared for what could and should have been foreseen."

Accusing ministers of "10 years of drift", he urged the expansion of gas storage facilities to help the country through future freezing weather conditions.

In a Tory-led debate, Clark said a number of businesses with interruptible gas contracts had been cut off in recent days, while domestic supplies had been maintained. But this is no cause for complacency. There is no guarantee that we won't have another cold winter, or that Russia won't turn off the (gas supply) taps."

Britain, he said, was the "single most exposed country among the big players in Europe" and steps needed to be taken now to ensure energy security in the future.

For the Liberal Democrats, Simon Hughes called on Mr Clark to apologise for "alarmist and misleading" comments made about how many day's worth of gas was left during the recent freeze.

But Clark refused to do this, accusing the Liberal Democrats of "complacency" over the issue. He said: "At the best of times, we have 16 day's worth of storage capacity in this country. In France, they have 120 days. In Germany, 100 days. I don't think anyone thinks this is an adequate proportion."

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