Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 30 October 2014


Imagine a world now without electricity. It is not just our lights and televisions that we would miss, but every computer-driven device we now own to make our lives more comfortable would just become a lump of useless plastic.

We had a power cut one Christmas and it was lovely to live for a while by candlelight, but we were glad when the power came back on.

Reports this week from the operators of the National Grid that our capacity to generate electricity is at a worrying low, might send shivers down our spine. Literally. And just imagine the political consequences if you press the switch on your wall and nothing happens.

I am just old enough to remember when we had several hours a week without electricity in the 1970's. That was bad enough, but 40 years on, we are much more dependent on this invisible force.

Coal fired power stations are rightly considered too damaging to the environment and are being phased out. North Sea oil and gas is running out. Most of our imported fossil fuels come from unstable parts of the world like Nigeria or Russia and you would not want to stake your future on it. Renewable energy has a significant future but right now, with all of our wind turbines and solar panel farms, only 16.8% of electricity consumed was provided by renewables as at spring 2014. Hopefully this will grow, especially as we exploit wave and tidal technology, for which Plymouth may become the hub.

The existing generation of nuclear power stations are getting tired. We have given the go-ahead for a new one at Hinckley Point in Somerset, but it will be some years before this comes on stream.

In the meantime, in many parts of the country, we are walking over the obvious solution, every day. Shale Gas.

These are enormous pockets of gas (and oil) which can be accessed by using a system known as fracking. This is the process of drilling down into the earth before a high-pressure water and sand mixture is directed at the rock to release the gas inside.

Some people consider this environmentally hazardous, but the government has carefully considered the scientific research and have concluded that it is safe. I agree with this. Not only should be start exploiting the shale gas underneath our land, realistically, we do not have an alternative if we want to keep our lights and iPads on.

posted by Gary @ 10:55