David Miliband, the Environment Secretary, was accused yesterday of running a “brazen” spin operation, after it emerged that his promise of more money for clean energy sources will mean less money for energy-saving projects.
At last month’s Labour conference Mr Miliband announced he was putting £10m into a programme run by the Carbon Trust, a private company established four years ago to involve businesses in fighting global warming.
The grant will be used to get private companies to build wind turbines to generate power. He forecast that the scheme would generate enough electricity to supply 250,000 houses.
A footnote to an accompanying press release from the Environment Department (Defra), however, reveals that the money has come out of the £20m allocated to Defra in the Budget in March – money that was to be invested in energy-saving measures.
Environmentalists say that energy saving should be Defra’s first priority. A spokesman for the government-backed Energy Saving Trust said: “This announcement is a massive blow to energy-efficiency programmes in the UK,” adding: “On three separate occasions the Government outlined that the £20m would be spent on energy efficiency programmes directed at the home-owner.”
The Conservative environment spokesman, Greg Barker, said Mr Miliband’s “brazen attempt to pretend that the Government was producing new money for renewables in order to get a cheer at the Labour Party conference is the sort of New Labour spin and double-talk that undermines public trust”.
He accused Mr Miliband of playing “games” with the Defra budget to “get a good press release”.
But a Defra spokesman said the Department was doing “a hell of a lot” of energy-efficiency work and it was not a case of “either/or”.
By Andy McSmith
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