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Greenpeace asked to help No 10

GREENPEACE representatives will enter the Downing Street Policy Unit for the first time ever today to press the case for renewable energy such as solar and wind power.

The move comes amid speculation that ministers may provide incentives for firms to move into the alternative energy forms in a review due out later this year.

The environmental pressure group has never before received such an invitation. Today's meeting also co-incides with another at the Department of Trade and Industry. The organisation has also received an encouraging letter from John Battle, the energy minister, about its campaign for greater use of renewable energy.

Greenpeace wants the government to set a targets of 30 or 40 per cent of energy from renewable sources by 2010, but fears the goal may be around 10 per cent. Its campaigns director, Sarah Burton, will meet Liz Lloyd, who is responsible for the environment at the Downing Street Policy Unit, and will later see Colin Hicks, director of environment at the Department of Trade and Industry.

In his letter to Greenpeace, dated last Tuesday - the day junior ministers were reconfirmed in their jobs after the reshuffle - Mr Battle said a move away from fossil fuels must not damage the economy.

But he added: "As you know, the government is committed to a new and strong drive to develop renewable energy sources and agrees that we need to move away from dependence on fossil fuels."

Ms Burton said: "This is a part of our climate agenda that they can see has the potential to create a sustainable industrial and energy base for Britain."

Greenpeace has also received a letter from John Browne, chief executive of BP, who said that although he was interested in solar energy, he believes more oil and coal would be needed in future.

He wrote: "We are investing substantial amounts in the solar business and watching with great interest the government's review.".