Call for East Sussex County Council to back windfall tax on oil and gas profits

The leader of East Sussex County Council has declined calls to back a windfall tax on oil and gas companies.

At a full council meeting on Tuesday (May 10), Green Party co-leader Georgia Taylor called on Conservative council leader Keith Glazier to send a letter to the government on behalf of ESCC setting out its support for the move.

She asked for the letter to also set out the council’s support for an end to government subsidies for oil and gas companies.

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Cllr Taylor said: “The two IPCC reports released this year have provided some alarming evidence of the mounting dangers of global heating. The chair of the report committee stated ‘climate change is a grave and mounting threat to wellbeing and health of the planet.’

Climate campaigners protest against East Sussex County Council 'shielding' oil and gas companies (Photos by Katie Vandyck)

“According to the International Energy Agency, energy is responsible for 75 per cent of green house gas emissions, the main cause of global heating. In addition to this terrible situation, we have an even more immediate crisis with the cost of living increase likely to push millions of households into poverty, especially with the cost of household energy increasing dramatically.

“And yet, because of these price increases, the UK oil and gas industry is set to make a windfall profit of £11.6bn. In addition to that oil and gas companies receive £3.4bn per year in subsidies from UK taxpayers.”

Cllr Glazier declined the call, however, arguing that there was no indication that the proposals were supported by the council as a whole.

He said: “I don’t think that is a question for me as leader, I think that is a question for the council. I have no indication that we would have a total commitment to send a letter to anybody stressing the points you have raised.

“I think we all individually continue to lobby our groups and parties we support. Individually I think we will do that. I can see no mechanism that this council could have to fulfil the wish that you have.”

Cllr Taylor took issue with this response, arguing that Cllr Glazier had previously written letters on behalf of the council on other matters (such as its recent letter of support for the UK accepting refugees from Ukraine).

She said: “How is it we can do it with some pressing issues, but with other pressing issues we can’t. You might find that everyone here would sign up to a letter of such a nature, because it is so important and pressing at this time.”

Cllr Glazier replied: “I know what my group think and there are mixed feelings within the group. I know that there wouldn’t be a consensus there and so on behalf of my group, I couldn’t be pushing it forward.

“The letters we’ve sent have absolute sign up and we would have gained that by having conversations with leaders around the room prior to a council meeting to establish what it is you want to deliver instead of just a grandstanding moment for the county council. There are a lot of opportunities here.”

Before the meeting, climate campaigners staged a theatrical protest outside County Hall demanding that ESCC stop shielding the giant fossil fuel companies that are reaping huge windfall profits from the war in Ukraine.