Labour confirms plans to block all new North Sea oil and gas projects

Labour has confirmed it will block all new domestic oil and gas developments if it wins power, proposing instead to invest heavily in renewable sources such as wind and also in nuclear power.

The shadow work and pensions secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, said details would be announced soon.

“What we’ll be doing in the coming weeks is outlining how we want to invest in the green jobs of the future, to bring bills down, to create a more sustainable energy supply,” he told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday show.

“We’ll be outlining that in a significant mission in the coming weeks, and we’ll be announcing more details then.

“We know we’ve got to move to more renewable sources of energy. It’s important for our climate change commitments, but it’s also the way in which we can bring energy bills down for consumers. This isn’t about shutting down what’s going on now. We will manage those sustainably.”

The proposals, which the Labour leader, Keir Starmer, is expected to set out formally on a visit to Scotland next month, will involve not just a ban on new North Sea oil and gas licences, but a pledge that any borrowing for investment should be limited to green schemes.

A party source said: “We are against the granting of new licences for oil and gas in the North Sea. They will do nothing to cut bills as the Tories have acknowledged; they undermine our energy security and would drive a coach and horse through our climate targets.

“But Labour would continue to use existing oil and gas wells over the coming decades and manage them sustainably as we transform the UK into a clean energy superpower.”

This will not stop drilling on projects that have already been approved, with the exception of the Rosebank and Cambo schemes, which Labour has said previously it would block.

Asked if this would leave the country overreliant on wind power, Ashworth said: “It’s a mischaracterisation to say our policies all depend on wind. Yes, we need to invest in wind. We need to invest in tidal; we need to invest in nuclear.

“We need more sustainable sources of energy supply in order to bring the bills down for consumers and actually create jobs in this green transition.”

The aim, he said, should be for the UK to become a world leader in the green energy transition, and would create hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Grant Shapps, the energy secretary, said Labour’s plans amounted to an “ideological vendetta against British energy independence” that would risk jobs and help Russia in using energy supplies as a weapon.

The proposal is the latest in a series of Labour pledges over a move towards a greener economy, much of it pushed by Ed Miliband, the shadow climate change secretary.

In 2021, the shadow chancellor, Rachel Reeves, announced the party would invest £28bn a year in climate crisis-related measures, covering not just green energy but also areas such as home insulation, active travel and flood defences.

At last year’s Labour conference, Starmer said Labour would set up a publicly owned energy company run on clean UK power, to be known as Great British Energy.