Chancellor has scared off desperately-needed investment in electricity generation, says Ed Balls

Shadow chancellor accuses George Osborne of anti-green agenda

Environment Editor

Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, has accused George Osborne of caving in to right-wing backbenchers by pursing an anti-green agenda that has put Britain on an "economically reckless path".

In a scathing attack on the Chancellor, Mr Balls claimed that Mr Osborne has scared off desperately-needed investment in both low-carbon and fossil-fuel electricity generation by failing to set out a clear objective for UK power creation.

"My fear is that the UK currently risks snatching defeat from the jaws of potential victory. At the heart of this failure is George Osborne's unholy alliance with his troublesome backbenchers," he wrote in an article for the New Statesman.

"Faced with the choice between short termist nods to hard-line Tory opinion or the strategic leadership that Britain needs, the Chancellor has chosen the politically easy but economically reckless path," added Mr Balls, in his strongest comments on the green economy since becoming shadow chancellor.

He accused the chancellor of undermining the confidence of potential investors by refusing to agree a target in the recent Energy Bill to make Britain's electricity supply almost entirely green by 2030, by favouring gas over renewable energy and by "shackling" the green investment bank, set up to back new low-carbon energy generation projects.

"By failing to implement the scale and certainty of policy needed to effectively de-risk investment, the government has actively undermined business plans to create jobs and growth," said Mr Balls.

Investors in energy projects need to know the likely demand for the electricity generated so they can determine whether the investment will be worthwhile. However, without clear targets on renewable energy production - which is more expensive than gas and coal power - it is very difficult for potential investors in any form of generation to predict the long-term demand for their electricity.

A Treasury source said: "The energy sector had 13 years of under-investment under Labour – which this Government is reversing. Six new gas plants, two on-shore wind-farms and two off-shore wind-farms have opened since the Coalition took power – with many more in the pipeline.

“All Labour's ‘policy’ would mean is massive energy bill rises for hardworking people and pensioners.”

Meanwhile, a Department for Energy and Climate Change source pointed out that £29bn has been invested in renewable energy projects since the government was formed in 2010.

Separately, a new report from the Green Alliance think tank, out today found that £180bn of new green infrastructure investment is at risk "because of uncertainty about the UK's commitment to its current low carbon direction".

Responding to the report by Green Alliance - backed by WWF-UK, Greenpeace and Christian Aid - Greg Barker, Minister for Climate Change, said: "The Coalition is unleashing an unprecedented investment in clean energy and low carbon infrastructure. Investment certainty is key but now, as our ambitious electricity market reforms near the finish of their progress through parliament, we have that in spades."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

Tradewind Recruitment: Key Stage 2 Teacher Required in Grays

£21000 - £40000 per annum + Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Key Stage 2 tea...

Recruitment Genius: Software Development Manager

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee