Labour stokes green spending fears

Labour leader Ed Miliband yesterday taunted David Cameron with new figures which show the amount of money invested in the UK’s renewable energy sector has dropped since the Coalition came […]

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By Sumit Bose

Labour leader Ed Miliband yesterday taunted David Cameron with new figures which show the amount of money invested in the UK’s renewable energy sector has dropped since the Coalition came to power.

While the Prime Minister is at EU talks in Brussels threatening to veto more European spending, the Labour leader highlighted his government’s failure to keep green cash in the UK.

While on a visit to the Whitelee wind farm in Scotland, Mr Miliband unveiled analysis by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) confirms what many long-suspected:  a peak in green spending during 2009 has since fallen drastically.

Mr Miliband said: “Already billions of pounds in investment is going elsewhere or being put on hold. Thanks to this Government, the investors who want to invest in our green sector are shutting their wallets or going elsewhere. Since this government came to power, investment in renewable energy hasn’t gone up, it hasn’t even stagnated – it has halved.”

Knowing the Energy Bill was due imminently, Mr Miliband put his weight behind calls from big businesses to bring in a 2030 decarbonisation target, saying: “That is what I would do if I was in Downing Street now and that is what this Prime Minister – who once flew halfway across Europe to hug a husky – should do.”

Environmental group WWF said this sort of target would stop green cash from slipping out of the country’s grasp.

Keith Allott, head of climate change at WWF-UK said: “This private finance needs clear public policy signals, such as a decarbonisation target, to be unlocked – and that’s where, ironically, policy dithering on the part of a supposedly pro-business government is part of the problem, not the solution.”

Renewable energy bodies said they were alarmed by the BNEF figures confirming the drop in spending – but sadly not surprised. REA Chairman Martin Wright said: “These figures illustrate that capital is voting with its feet. The last few years has seen renewables emerge as a serious contender. Costs are falling, supply chains are gearing up and renewable energy is no longer a cottage industry. It is essential that swift, clear decisions are implemented by a Government united in the objective of keeping the lights on whilst sticking to its climate change objectives.”