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Green energy plans don't go far enough, Whitehall told

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: June 28, 2012

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Westcountry academics have warned the Government that its new plans to shake up the future of green energy are inadequate.

Consumer, industry and environmental organisations including the University of Exeter have said plans to overhaul the electricity market and save energy in homes will not ensure the UK has a clean, affordable power sector.

They claim these short- comings will result in the UK missing out on key economic growth opportunities.

Reforms in the market will bring in new low-carbon energy generators to deliver billions of pounds of investment needed in energy infrastructure to keep the lights on.

A "green deal" has been introduced to cover the upfront costs of energy-efficiency measures in homes, with money paid back from bill savings and companies required to provide energy-saving measures for poor households.

But the University of Exeter, energy giant SSE, Consumer Focus and environmental charity WWF have issued a warning that the measures are not ambitious enough.

Government policies will not deliver the large energy savings needed to cut greenhouse emissions and ensure the UK's supplies are secure, they say.

Catherine Mitchell, of the University of Exeter energy policy group, said: "The Government should take the comments into account as it moves forward with the Energy Bill."

The South West has been carving out a reputation as the UK's renewable energy capital, with the region becoming a focal point for renewable energy projects in recent months.

Last month, Energy Minister Greg Barker paid tribute to the "extraordinary research and development" in the Westcountry after he officially opened Plymouth University's sustainability research institute.

The organisations have now raised concerns that developing low-carbon power and energy-efficiency measures, which are funded through energy bills, will hit consumers, particularly people on low incomes.

Plans would not provide the renewable energy sector with the certainty it needs to deliver investment and jobs in the UK, they claimed. And the group called for the Government to put efforts to reduce the use of energy at the heart of its policy and make energy affordable.

Nick Molho, of WWF-UK, said: "While we are all coming at this from different perspectives, we all want the UK to succeed in developing a clean, secure and affordable power sector and are deeply concerned that current Government proposals are just not up to the job."

A Department of Energy and Climate Change spokesman said the Government's policies would deliver the best deal for Britain and for consumers on energy, cutting energy waste and getting the country off the hook of imported oil and gas.

Audrey Gallacher, director of energy at Consumer Focus, said: "Current Government plans are simply not sufficient to tackle the scale of fuel poverty, with the energy-efficiency help available in England actually falling as bills rise."

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