MPs slam mixed messages on energy policy

As Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey prepares to give evidence to MPs on the forthcoming Energy Bill today, a separate committee of MPs will issue a blistering attack on the coalition for undermining investor confidence across the energy industry.

MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee will urge the Treasury to ensure that next month's Autumn Statement provides a clear message that it backs green growth, following a series of "mixed messages" from government.
It will also reiterate a call for the coalition to include a decarbonisation target in the forthcoming Energy Bill, in order to provide a clear signal for businesses that it is committed to driving low carbon investment.

The report raises fresh concerns that the Treasury sees environmental policies as a barrier to economic growth and criticises the Chancellor over reports he referred to some MPs and green groups as the "environmental taliban".

The MPs also highlight the recent departmental row over wind power, which has seen Energy Minister John Hayes twice contradicted by Davey over his stated opposition to the continued expansion of onshore wind farms in the UK. 

Joan Walley MP, chairwoman of the Environmental Audit Committee, urged the Chancellor to use the Autumn Statement to unequivocally state his support for green growth.

"The Treasury must end the uncertainty on energy policy and give investors and businesses the confidence to seize the enormous opportunities presented by new clean technologies," she said.

The Committee's comments echo those of Hayes' predecessor Charles Hendry, who yesterday warned that continuing political uncertainty over the Energy Bill and wider low carbon policy was adding significantly to the cost of capital for energy infrastructure developers.

Tim Yeo, chairman of the Energy and Climate Change Committee, which will today quiz Davey on the Energy Bill, also suggested this weekend that the government's handling of energy policy increasingly resembles a "laughable plotline from The Thick of It".