Clegg and Cameron at odds over "rolling back" green taxes
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The deputy prime minister reveals that does not support David Cameron's plans to "roll back" legislation supporting energy efficiency and the renewables sector
Nick Clegg told the BBC’s Today programme that Cameron’s promise to remove green regulation to lower energy bills was “not something that I fully agree with”.
At prime minister’s question time yesterday (23 October), the prime minister announced that he wanted to “roll back green regulations and charges” that he claimed were brought in by the Labour government, and which he blamed for increasing the cost of energy.
“Bills in this country have reached a completely unacceptable level. We need to help people pay their bills and help to get bills down,” he told the House of Commons.
“There are four bits to an energy bill. There are the wholesale energy prices, which we can’t control; the transmission and distribution costs of the grid, which are difficult to change; there are the profits of the energy companies and there are green regulations, and it is those last two that we need to get to grips with.
“I want better regulations. But we also need to roll back the green charges that [Ed Miliband] put in place as energy minister,” claimed the prime minister
However, Clegg said he does not agree with ending measures, such as the energy companies obligation and the renewables obligation, that provide funding to install energy-efficiency measures in the country’s poorest households and support the emerging renewable energy sector.
“I don't agree with the premise that looking after the environment, securing thousands of jobs in the renewable green sector and some of these levies being used to give deductions on bills for some the poorest in society – I do not accept that is why fuel bills are rising,” he said.
Clegg suggested that moving some green levies into general taxation could help to solve the problem of how to lower fuel bills and protect energy-efficiency initiatives and support for renewables.
Dr Nina Skorupska, the chief executive of the UK’s Renewable Energy Association, warned that Cameron risked “severely undermining” the confidence of investors in renewables with his vague pledge to remove green taxes.
“He must clarify which levies he is looking to roll back and how,” she said. “Renewables policy makes up only 3% of average bills overall and less than a third of the government’s ‘green levies’, so politicians and the media are simply wrong to say that green energy is to blame for pushing up bills.
“It is the ever-increasing cost of gas which has been the main cause of rising bills in recent months and years. With more energy-efficient homes and more home-grown renewables we become less exposed to these volatile gas markets.”
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