SPECIAL REPORT - ANY QUESTIONS? SHOW: Spotlight falls on renewable energy sources

Wind turbines off the Skegness coast.
Wind turbines off the Skegness coast.

With wind farms very much in the news and turbines clearly visible from the Skegness seafront and fracking never far from the headlines, energy was another key topic up for debate.

A young audience member asked if it would be affordable to convert to green renewable energy completely.

Unsurprisingly, Jonathan Dimbleby went to the Green Party’s leader Natalie Bennett first.

“What we need to do first of all is make sure that every bit of energy we are using we need to use,” she said. “The best energy of all, the greenest and certainly the cheapest, is the energy that we don’t need to use and that’s where we should start in energy policy.”

She described fracking, which involves a process of drilling down into the Earth and retrieving gas, as a ‘fantasy’.

Ms Bennett added: “Renewables are the answer, they’re exciting possibilities and the rest of the world is powering ahead and we are being left behind and we are losing out on that.”

UKIP MP Mark Reckless said many of his constituents struggle to pay their 
energy bills.

He said offshore wind farm projects were pushing up energy prices alongside not being able to build new coal-fueled power stations.

Mr Reckless said: “It could be an awful lot cheaper if we got rid of these mad policies and our economy could be an awful lot better if we saw some of the reductions in electricity, gas and coal prices that they’ve seen in the United States and that they made use of to see manufacturing coming back onshore in the United States while here in Europe and the UK we are driving it offshore and not even been saving the carbon emissions because it is just happening elsewhere and we are having to import stuff back from China.”

Labour MP Alan Johnson says his government put in targets for renewable energy - aiming for it to provide 20 per cent of our energy by 2020 and 80 per cent by 2050.

He said there are things which can be done now about energy prices and added: “This is about the future of this planet and incidentally in terms of our economy Siemens are making their biggest global investment in Hull. This will bring 1,000 jobs immediately. It will bring manufacturing in from Denmark.”

Conservative Tina Stowell said: “Clearly what we need is a secure supply of energy and for that to be secure we need a mix of different kinds of energy provision, some of it renewable, some it fracking, some of it nuclear and so on.”

With regards to fracking, she was pushed by Mr Dimbleby about concerns raised about the process.

She said: “Clearly this is something that needs to be very carefully approached. There needs to be proper safeguards. This is not something we can rush into but what the experts also say is that there is a vast supply of this gas under ground and we would be failing ourselves if we didn’t properly explore and enquire whether or not this is something a resource that we can tap into precisely because of the point that Mark makes about the cost of energy.”