Do politicians know the value of gas networks?

5th Feb 2024

 

Two different events last week brought home some stark truths about the gas industry and gas networks in particular.

Firstly, the “Winter Warmer” reception of the Parliamentary Energy Studies Group on Wednesday evening. It was well attended, from the industry, but politicians were in short supply. The host, an old colleague, Ian Liddell-Grainger MP, hit the nail on the head when he said, “no-one knows what the gas networks do”. Was this the reason so few MPs attended? Is it the fear of being associated with a fossil fuel that made them hide in their offices? Or was it the shame of bringing forward policies, such as the boiler tax, that damage the industry?

At this event, my good friend Ollie Lancaster from IGEM spoke eloquently of the contribution made by the gas networks – not just domestic heat provision but industrial, commercial, power generation. Local businesses, hospitals, schools, flexible power generation all reliant on those yellow plastic pipes. That is what politicians should hear.

The next day, 400 people took part in the East Coast Hydrogen Cluster webinar. Yes, again they were industry insiders. Again, the presenters painted a picture of huge swathes of industry and commerce that need gas, zero carbon hydrogen. Without it, these businesses either close or up sticks and move their operations to where hydrogen will be available. Rather than thriving local industrial landscapes all politicians will have is a desert, where once their constituents worked.

When this happens just watch the politicians panic, just look at Port Talbot if you need proof.

I believe we have a job to do. Not to defend fossil fuels but certainly make the case for gas – zero carbon to address those environmental concerns. Robustly, confidently and with credibility, explain to politicians that their lives (and those of their constituents) will be easier if they took more notice of our industry. Placing greater value on the work we do is a step towards an energy secure and prosperous UK. With a general election looming, now is the time to be heard not stay silent.