Opponents of wind farms are living in the “Stone Age”, Ed Davey has said, as he declared war on Tory Cabinet colleagues over turbines.
Mr Davey, the Liberal Democrat Energy Secretary, accused Conservatives of attempting to “destroy” the UK’s renewables industry.
He singled out Owen Paterson, the Environment Secretary, warning that he is trying to “cull” wind turbines.
The Daily Telegraph last month disclosed that officials in Mr Davey’s energy department have attempted to block a report commissioned by Mr Paterson on the impact of wind farms on the countryside.
Government sources claimed that Mr Davey was concerned that the report, which will also examine how turbines affect house prices, would not “fit with Lib Dem ideology on wind farms”.
In a newspaper interview ahead of his conference speech, Mr Davey warned that Mr Paterson’s report would be “partial” and potentially inaccurate.
His aides said Mr Davey is fighting “trench warfare” with Tory colleagues over green energy.
“I’ve had Owen Paterson making noises against wind, and you know that’s not what the agreed Coalition position is,” he said.
He said that Tories opposing wind farms and other green energy policies are “irresponsible”.
In his speech to the Lib Dem conference in Glasgow, Mr Davey said that he is being forced to fight “battles” with Mr Paterson over wind turbines.
“Take the battles I fight over wind power,” Mr Davey said. “Owen Paterson would cull wind turbines faster than he can cull badgers.
“But we have prevented the stone age wing of the Conservative Party from destroying our leading renewables industry.”
The Energy Secretary also contradicted David Cameron over gas fracking. The Prime Minister has repeatedly said that fracking could reduce energy bills.
However, Mr Davey said that it is wrong to suggest that fracking “answers all Britain’s energy problems”.
In a thinly-veiled attack on the Prime Minister, Mr Davey said that he is attempting to avoid “hyperbole” over fracking and is instead “weighing up the evidence”.
“Let’s be the voice of green reason in the shale debate,” Mr Davey said. “Reject the zealots who claim it’s a catastrophe. Reject the vested interests who argue it answers all Britain’s energy problems. They are both wrong. I’ve been cautious on shale. Avoiding hyperbole, weighing up the evidence, insisting on firm regulation.”
The Prime Minister last month insisted that people across the country must accept fracking.
He said that fracking could result in cheaper energy bills for millions, tens of thousands of jobs and windfalls for communities.
He also pledged that fracking would not damage Britain’s countryside and would only result in a “very minor change to the landscape”.
Fracking, which involves fracturing rocks deep underground with water and chemicals to extract natural gas, has dramatically cut energy bills in the USA.
Ministers are hoping that it could do the same in the UK. However, the process has led to protests in West Sussex.
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