Senior Tories at odds over green policy

Thinking of my Grandma's approach again - I think on this issue she would simply ''bang your heads together''  what is wrong with you......

Senior Tories are at odds over the environment amid fears that climate change sceptics in the government are seeking to slow the pace of the introduction of renewable energy.

Greg Barker, the climate change minister who has been a key figure in pressing the green agenda in the party, said it was vital to "make a stronger case" on the importance of renewable energy.

Barker spoke out shortly after Owen Paterson, the new environment secretary, warned of the dangers of "unintended consequences of renewable energy" in the countryside.

The contrasting messages from the two ministers highlighted sharp divisions within the government over
climate change in the wake of the recent cabinet reshuffle. Paterson has been praised by the former chancellor Lord Lawson of Blaby, who is a sceptic.

Paterson told the Tory conference of concerns in his Shropshire constituency about wind farms and fears among dairy farmers who are being outbid for land by farmers who want to grow maize for anaerobic digestion.

"These are the unintended consequences of renewable technology," he said. "They risk upsetting the delicate balance of interests that underpins our living, working countryside." 

In his speech to the conference, Barker said that renewable energy will be a major source of economic growth and of job creation. He added: "We have a distinct Conservative approach that puts jobs, growth and value for money at the centre of our green agenda."

His speech came after the leaking to the Times of a letter in which seven global energy companies expressed concerns about uncertainty over the government's approach to renewable energy. Barker insisted that the government has not had a change of heart.

Barker framed his argument against Labour but it appeared he may have had ministerial colleagues in mind. He said: "Unlike Labour we don't have a blinkered hairshirt view of the climate change agenda. We know it doesn't have to hurt to work. For Labour climate policy will always be more like "Fifty Shades of Green". We reject the false notion that you have to choose between cheap fossil fuels or expensive clean energy."

Barker later warned Tories not to cede the green agenda to the Lib Dems. He said: "We are not going to let the Lib Dems hijack the green agenda. It is a core part of the modernisation of the Conservative party and we are not going backwards.

"We are proud of what we have done in government but we need to make a stronger case to get the message over that the green agenda is here to stay. But it is a distinctive vision in contrast to the high cost anti-business Labour alternative."