Vince Cable has slammed the government’s clean growth strategy as a “damp squib” and “an inadequate response” to climate change.
The Liberal Democrat leader also said he was disappointed by the lack of a go ahead for the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon project.
Responding to today’s publication of the strategy, Cable said: “This strategy is a year late and is a damp squib. It is an inadequate response to tackling climate change, one of the greatest threats to our economy and our planet.
He said that the UK needed a “far more radical plan” because it is on track to miss its climate change targets as laid out in the Paris agreement.
“This does not change that,” he continued. “While additional funding for renewables is welcome, we need to see far more investment in cutting-edge technologies such as tidal power and a wide-scale plan for insulating people’s leaky homes.
“If the government was serious about tackling climate change they would be creating a far more radical plan, such as introducing a diesel scrappage scheme, allowing new onshore wind farms and giving the immediate go-ahead to Britain’s first ever tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay.”
Cable also criticised the government for replacing the £1bn investment in carbon capture and storage (CCS) axed by ex-chancellor George Osborne in 2015 with a ‘much smaller and inadequate’ £100m pot.
However Richard Black, director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, said the strategy marked a “sea-change” in government thinking on the low carbon economy.
He said: “Under George Osborne, the language was always about the costs, about Britain not doing more than other countries, as though every wind turbine came clothed in a hair shirt. By contrast, Theresa May’s government evidently sees developing a low-carbon economy as good for jobs, good for issues such as air pollution, and a route to growth for UK plc. “
Luke Warren, chief executive of the Carbon Capture and Storage Association (CCSA), said that while the £100m support was welcome, there was a lack of detail in the strategy.
“We now need government to get behind CCS in the same way and the CCSA looks forward to working with the government to support delivery of this transformational technology.”
Claire Mack, chief executive of Scottish Renewables, welcomed the government’s commitment to work with the industry on a sector deal for offshore wind but expressed disappointment about a similar lack of support for onshore wind and solar
She said: “With cost reduction recognised as an important part of the continued growth of our low-carbon energy system, it is startling that cheap, popular onshore wind and solar PV are excluded once again from plans for the UK’s energy future.
“We now look forward to seeing the outcome of the government’s cost of energy review, where we expect to see these lowest-cost technologies recognised as crucial for the delivery of cheap, clean power for Britain’s homes and businesses.”