Liz Truss blamed for closure of North Sea gas storage before energy crisis

Liz Truss has been accused of signing off the closure of the UK’s biggest gas storage facility as ministers now rush to reopen the facility before winter.

The Rough natural gas storage facility off the coast of East Yorkshire is set to reopen within weeks, amid concerns over the country’s gas reserves in future winters, the Yorkshire Post understands.

Labour have said that the closure would have been one of Ms Truss’ first acts as Chief Secretary to the Treasury in 2017, after cost and safety concerns were raised.

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Allies of Ms Truss last night stressed that she would not have been involved in key discussions involving the closure prior to her appointment, with the decision coming only days after she stepped into the role.

Labour has criticised Liz Truss over the handling of the Rough gas storage facility in the North Sea.Labour has criticised Liz Truss over the handling of the Rough gas storage facility in the North Sea.
Labour has criticised Liz Truss over the handling of the Rough gas storage facility in the North Sea.

Labour have said that the move showed the Government’s “blatant disregard” for protecting the energy supply of the UK.

“We are facing an energy crisis because of 12 years of Conservative failure on energy security - on renewables, on storage, on insulation and on regulating the market,” Ed Miliband, Labour’s shadow climate change secretary, told the Yorkshire Post.

“Liz Truss’ involvement in shutting down the Rough gas storage facility and plummeting the UK into close to zero storage stocks shows the blatant disregard from this government to protect our energy supply and keep bills down.

“Labour will not stand by and let people suffer any more.”

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A Labour source said that Ms Truss “received briefings and sat around the table in meetings giving the final green light to major decisions on matters of vital national infrastructure”.

“It’s a struggle to believe she was not sighted or an active participant in the closure which was a result of her government's refusal to step in. Either that, or she wasn't doing her job properly along with the rest of this Tory government.”

In 2017 the facility was closed by Centrica after it said it was unsafe and uneconomical, while the Government was accused of not agreeing to pay for its costly repairs.

The facility is able to hold enough gas to meet the UK’s demand for winter for around 10 days when full.

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Since its closure the UK has relied on a “just in time” approach to gas supply, and has exported, rather than stored it, meaning the UK is more exposed to harsh winter conditions which require more heating of the country’s homes.

Since then the UK has developed a “glut” of natural gas according to a Whitehall source.

“We’re turning away ships in hordes,” they said.

Kwasi Kwarteng, the Business Secretary and a backer of Ms Truss, has now asked for it to be reopened.

“It will have some implication and some benefit to energy security this winter, but the real benefit will be next year, because who knows how long the uncertainty in Europe is going to last,'' a Whitehall source said.

“We have to be prepared for all eventualities.”

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A campaign spokesperson for Liz Truss said: “As Prime Minister, Liz would drive forward efforts to secure the UK’s long term domestic energy supply and keep families’ bills low.

“She would reduce the UK's dependency on foreign energy supplies and leverage private sector investment to embrace transition energy methods like gas and nuclear.”

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