George Osborne accused of secret war on PM's green policies as father-in-law is caught on video

Father-in-law tells undercover reporter how Chancellor plans to undermine Coalition environment policies

George Osborne’s father-in-law has fuelled the civil war within the Coalition Government - and between rival wings of the Conservative Party - over energy policy by claiming that the Chancellor is privately manoeuvring to undermine David Cameron’s climate change promises.

Click here to see the videos

Secret filming shows Lord Howell, who also advises the Government on energy, and Peter Lilley, a senior Tory MP who is a climate change sceptic, claiming Mr Osborne shares their hostility to building more onshore wind-turbines.

“The Prime Minister is not familiar with these issues, doesn’t understand them… Osborne is of course getting this message and is putting pressure on,” Mr Osborne’s father-in-law Lord Howell told a a Greenpeace activist posing as an anti-wind farm lobbyist, who was covertly recording him.

The Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Ed Davey, a Liberal Democrat, is already in open conflict with one of his Tory deputies, John Hayes, over the issue, and more than 100 Tory MPs have publicly opposed the construction of more wind-farms.

British targets to cut the CO2 emissions scientists believe are causing global warming are “absurd”, he said.

Mr Lilley, who has just been appointed to the climate change select committee, struck a similar note, saying he believed the Chancellor “privately regrets all the [green] commitments that have been made”.

He claimed that Mr Osborne used the recent ministerial reshuffle to “get people into key positions who could begin to get the Government off the hook from the commitments it made very foolishly”.

He cited the example of Mr Hayes, but Tory opponents of energy policy were also cheered by the appointment of Owen Paterson two months ago as the Environment Secretary.

Mr Lilley claimed Mr Hayes was “prepared to duff up” Mr Davey on the issue of wind-farms and, in an unreleased piece of footage, ridiculed Greg Barker, a Tory energy minister, as “barking”, a “complete nutter” and “away with the fairies”.

Tonight Mr Osborne issued a statement insisting: “The Chancellor supports Government policy which has helped secure record investment into the UK energy infrastructure.”

Senior Liberal Democrat sources acknowledged the issue was causing tensions at the highest levels of Government and deterring investors in renewable energy. One source said:  “I’m afraid the problem is coming from the Treasury. But it makes the Liberal Democrats in government more determined to deliver on the Coalition Agreement and ensure we secure investment in green energy and renewables.”

The tensions were underlined on Tuesday night when Mr Hayes claimed that once the wind-farms currently planned were built it would be “the end of the story” – a stance that put him directly at odds with Mr Davey who immediately slapped down his Tory deputy.

The Conservative MP Chris Heaton-Harris apologised for appearing to encourage a potential rival candidate – and opponent of wind-farms - in today’s Corby by-election.

He was secretly recorded by Greenpeace saying he “suggested” James Delingpole put himself forward as an independent to push the issue up the agenda and “cause some hassle” during the campaign.

Mr Heaton-Harris also said: “At the moment, it is still looking a lot better with Owen Paterson and John Hayes. I’ve still got Ed Davey to dump on from a height somewhere.”

Lord Howell, whose daughter Frances is married to the Chancellor, also risked stoking up diplomatic tensions with the Gulf state of Qatar by saying there was a strategic case for buying its gas as an alternative to renewables.

He said: “Qatar is a great place and it’s full of skyscrapers and rich people. But it’s also rather near to a lot of jihadists... If Qatar was just to - it’s about the size of Guildford - go into chaos, we would be up shit creek we really would.”

Tonight Mr Lilley said: “My remarks about George Osborne were taken from reading the newspapers. I don’t have any inside knowledge about what is going on in his head.”

He accepted he had not chosen his words about his fellow Tory Greg Barker very delicately, but added: “I don’t rate his political judgement very highly.”

Lord Howell could not be contacted for comment.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Specialist - HR Team

£26000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £38,000

£16000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Parts Sales Advisor - OTE 18k-23k

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of Ford's leading Parts Who...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders