by political editor Paul Francis
A shortage of power supplies could plunge homes and businesses across the county into darkness within eight years, a senior Kent Conservative MP has claimed.
Greg Clark MP said previously undisclosed Government projections indicated that demand for power would outstrip available supplies by 2017, leading to nationwide power cuts.
The shadow environment spokesman said that if nothing was done to meet predicted shortages, power cuts could become increasingly common.
On the basis of the Government’s own figures, the unmet demand of 3,000 megawatt hours represented the equivalent of four hours without power for every resident in Kent a year, said the Tunbridge Wells MP.
He is urging the Government to say which parts of the country would be affected by cuts in any plan to save power.
"If that figure was applied to Kent, it would mean four hours without power for every person in the county. Over 16 consecutive winter evenings, it could mean losing power for 15 minutes," he said.
"We need to know what the Government is planning and where it plans to allocate these power cuts. Given they are predicted to happen, I assume they must have given some thought to where they are going to be targeted."
The prospect of shortages are set out in the Government’s own plans for 40 per cent of country’s electricity supply to come from low-carbon energy sources.
They were not part of the original document outlining the plans but were set out in an appendix which was recently published online.
Mr Clark said the energy gap issue should have been predicted far earlier. "Over the last 10 years, we have not taken the oportunity to replace power plants that we knew were going to close. The Government has left it perilously late and will now have to pull out all the stops to ensure the lights do not go out."
MP Greg Clark on why we must pull out all the stops to power our homes
In July, environment secretary Ed Miliband said 40 per cent of the UK’s future energy supply would have to come from low-carbon energy sources, including clean coal, nuclear and renewables.
Speaking on a visit to officially open the Little Cheyne wind farm in Romney Marsh, east Kent, he said: "The expansion of wind energy, alongside other renewables, new nuclear power and clean coal, is vital for the UK’s low carbon energy mix, and brings with it massive opportunity in terms of jobs and economic growth."