It operates four gas distribution pipelines that supply an estimated 11
million homes and businesses in the Midlands, the North West, eastern
England and north London. The Chinese consortium is one of three trying
to buy a controlling stake.
At the time, a source reportedly said: ‘The only time it drops off is
during Chinese New Year.’ Yesterday, Tory MP John Redwood said the UK
was being far too generous to countries such as China – and demanded
government intervention to stop state monopolies buying up our
‘There could be security concerns, but my main concern is that this is
not a fair market,’ he said. ‘I have suggested to the Government that
they should amend the competition rules to allow intervention if the
bidder is a foreign government or is a foreign nationalised industry.
‘This is on the grounds that Britain cannot do the same and invest in
their industries like this. As I understand it, there is a lot of
Chinese state money behind this potential deal. They do not allow us to
invest in their economy in the same way. We have been far too generous
in the past.’
While the gas itself is owned by the various energy companies, National
Grid is responsible for it while it is being transported.
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said: ‘This government is getting it
completely wrong when it comes to energy security.
‘Instead of working with our allies to develop sustainable, low-cost
energy solutions, we are offering up our ageing systems based on fossil
fuels to the highest bidder, without considering whether it is in our
long-term national interest.’
National Grid said: ‘We will not speculate on the identity of potential
bidders. Regardless of their identity, all bidders will have to go
through the same rigorous approval process. The new owner will have to
be approved by regulators and operate under the relevant requirements.
‘Networks are subject to strict rules and criteria in terms of security,
reliability and availability and any buyer will need to prove to Ofgem
and the Government that they can meet these criteria.’ Government
sources said the deal would be subject to the additional safeguards that
Mrs May put in place following the Hinkley decision.
‘The additional safeguards proposed last week mean that in future there
will be a formal gateway through which investments in critical
infrastructure are interrogated for their implications for national