In a rare show of Whitehall collaboration, BEIS and Defra set out their connected visions for the UK's smart energy and low carbon future.

Once upon a time New Labour had a mantra about what it called joined up government. It wanted to get away from different departments doing their own thing without referring to what the rest of Whitehall was doing.

Since the general election, Theresa May’s government has looked about as joined up as a bunch of ferrets in a sack.

However last week’ announcements on flexible systems and air pollution restored order to at least one corner of the Whitehall jungle.

Those of us who hadn’t joined the summer holiday exodus woke up to Greg Clark’s announcement on smart energy systems.

Publishing the plans on the first Monday of the so called silly season, when Parliament is off, was a smart move in public relations terms by the business secretary. It is hard to see an announcement about batteries topping the news agenda normally.

Then, later in the week, we saw environment secretary Michael Gove’s announcement that petrol and diesel cars and vans will be phased out by 2040.

The two announcements are intertwined because achieving the electrical driving dream depends on creating a greener and more flexible grid. The alternative, as many have pointed out, would be a massive increase in baseload capacity.

For the first time in weeks though, the government gave an appearance of having a grip on events rather than being buffeted by them.

Having secured a relatively good reception for its smart system plans, Clark’s team should have carved some space to pursue its clean growth strategy when Westminster is back from its summer break.


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