A NEW North Sea oil and gas licencing round will be launched this autumn by the UK Government, causing concern among environmentalists who warn it will not tackle the current cost-of living crisis.

As part of a plan to make Britain less reliant on other countries, Boris Johnson has announced a raft of new measures, including licencing more fossil fuel extraction from below the Scottish seabed.

Also included are plans for a new body, Great British Nuclear, which will be launched to bolster the UK’s nuclear capacity with the hope of powering up to 25% of the UK’s energy demand by 2050.

It also contains plans for expanding offshore windfarms, solar power and hydrogen.

Rebecca Newsome, the head of policy for Greenpeace, said the measures will not tackle the cost of living squeeze currently facing households.

She said: “This strategy comprehensively fails to stand up to Putin’s violence, to take the sting out of soaring energy bills, or take control of the spiralling climate crisis.

“The Government could have chosen to power ahead with quick, cost-effective and fair solutions like taxing oil and gas companies’ mega-profits, investing more to cut energy waste from homes, and unblocking planning barriers for cheap and popular onshore wind.

“Instead, while there are some improvements on renewables targets, they have prioritised slow solutions, dishing out rewards to vested interests in the nuclear and the oil and gas industries, which won’t tackle the cost-of-living crisis or reduce our dependence on gas.”

The rocketing energy bills faced by families has been caused in part by a post-pandemic rise in demand for gas, with lower levels of production.

Offshore wind will be expanded to produce enough energy to comfortably power every home in the county, the Government has said.

Tory opposition to onshore windfarms is thought to be one of the key reasons the Government’s strategy was delayed – and the compromise has been to support “a limited number of supportive communities” to develop windfarms in their areas.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “We have seen record-high gas prices around the world.

“We need to protect ourselves from price spikes in the future by accelerating our move towards cleaner, cheaper, home-grown energy.

“The simple truth is that the more cheap, clean power we generate within our borders, the less exposed we will be to eye-watering fossil fuel prices set by global markets we can’t control.

“Scaling up cheap renewables and new nuclear, while maximising North Sea production, is the best and only way to ensure our energy independence over the coming years.”

Ed Matthew, campaigns director at climate think tank E3G, said: “With no new support to save energy and by holding back on solar power and on-shore wind, this strategy will do nothing to help the UK get off Russian gas this year.

“Instead, the Government has prioritised policies that will keep us dependent on high cost fossil fuels and nuclear power.

“This isn’t an energy security strategy and will do nothing to bring down energy bills. It is a national security threat and the person who will be happiest with it is Vladimir Putin.”

Labour’s shadow energy secretary Ed Miliband said the Prime Minister had “completely caved to his own backbenchers” and said commitments to onshore wind and solar power had “failed”.