Davey blasts UK allies over RE

The UK’s Liberal Democrat energy secretary Ed Davey has unleashed an outspoken attack on Conservative colleagues in the coalition government over attempts to “destroy our leading renewables industry”.

In his speech to the Liberal Democrat party conference in Glasgow, Davey singled out Conservative environment secretary Owen Paterson as trying to “cull” wind turbines.

He accused those Tories who are opposing wind farms and other green energy policies as being “irresponsible” in their claims.

Davey's words again highlight tensions within the UK's ruling coalition that some commentators have blamed for adding to a sense of uncertainty around national energy policy.

Officials in Davey’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) have tried to block a report commissioned by Paterson on the impact of wind farms on the countryside.

In an interview ahead of his conference speech, Davey warned the Paterson report would be “partial” and potentially inaccurate.

“I've had Paterson making noises against wind, and you know that’s not what the agreed coalition position is,” said Davey.

He claimed the Lib Dems “had prevented the stone age wing of the Conservative party from destroying our leading renewables industry”.

Davey said that it was wrong to suggest that gas fracking “answers all Britain’s energy problems”.

“Let’s be the voice of green reason in the shale debate,” he said. “Reject the zealots who claim it’s a catastrophe. Reject the vested interests who argue it answers all of the UK’s energy problems. They are both wrong."

Party members at the conference also voted 230 to 183 to support nuclear power in “limited” circumstances.

“We are going to need vast amounts of low-carbon electricity to tackle climate change. Why? Because if our carbon capture and storage plans don’t work, we may have to replace all fossil fuels for electricity generation, that is about 60% of all generation.

“If we do that without nuclear, you will need to replace about 85% of electricity generation. That’s huge.”

Davey said he was absolutely determined not to sign any contract for new nuclear power stations which relied on public subsidy, adding: “New nuclear must be cost-competitive. We will not repeat the history of mistakes on nuclear.”