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British Newspapers: Anti-Green Backlash Gathering Pace

Daily Mail editorial: The sooner these ludicrous green taxes are scrapped, the better for everyone.

Daily Mail, 18 October 2011

With a somewhat unconvincing display of righteous anger, David Cameron and Energy Secretary Chris Huhne summon bosses of the big six power suppliers to a summit meeting, demanding that they stop cheating their customers.

The upshot? The companies agree to do almost nothing to change their ways.

Instead, they will send out millions of letters, reminding consumers of their existing rights to switch providers or billing systems, while advising the poorest to apply for free or subsidised insulation.

In other words, the ruthless profiteering is to continue. So, too, is the appalling customer service and the disgraceful pressure put on customers to pay by direct debit, which often leads to overcharging.

Meanwhile householders themselves are to be left with the job of negotiating the baffling labyrinth of tariffs in search of a fair deal among all the rip-offs.

No change there, then. Doesn’t the Coalition realise that people have better things to do?

As for any meaningful reforms to improve conduct and transparency, they will have to wait at least until the end of the year, when energy regulator Ofgem is to produce a report.

With average annual bills already more than £1,300, how many families and pensioners will have to go without heating this winter before the companies are brought into line?

At this time of real hardship for millions, it’s nothing less than a scandal that the big six are on course to increase their profit margins from £15 per customer in the summer to a crippling £125 as the cold weather draws in.

But they are not the only ones guilty of forcing up energy bills when the country can afford it least.

Unforgivably, the Coalition itself has been committed to green taxes and associated charges which already add £100 to domestic bills, while imposing intolerable burdens on the businesses we depend upon for recovery.

Only yesterday, the European head of Indian steel giant Tata warned that a £1.2billion investment by his company in Britain could be at risk from the Government’s ‘over the top’ climate change policies.

Now it seems that the Chancellor, who has finally woken up to the danger, is proposing tax breaks for vital employers who are big energy users.

While this is to be warmly commended, questions arise: will it go far enough – and how much extra bureaucracy will it entail for companies and the civil service?

Inevitably, meanwhile, George Osborne’s U-turn is causing a row with the Liberal Democrats, whose vainglorious ambition is to turn the UK into the ‘greenest country in Europe’.

Leave aside the damage to businesses and the fact that the science of climate change remains questionable. The real scandal is that ordinary domestic consumers – particularly the elderly on fixed incomes – are still having to pay these green taxes, adding to the already unbearable burden of rising prices.

The Mail has no doubt many will suffer bitterly from the cold this winter because they can’t afford their heating bills.

The sooner these ludicrous green taxes are scrapped, the better for everyone.

Daily Express editorial: Ministers must cut the cost of their green energy targets

Daily Express, 18 October 2011

SOARING energy bills are a bitter pill for millions of families to swallow at a time of falling living standards.

With winter looming it is not merely those on benefits or low earnings who cannot afford to heat their homes properly.

So high have bills climbed that many people on good salaries are in the same boat.

If holding an “energy summit” in Downing Street reflects how seriously this issue is being taken then that is welcome.

The Prime Minister yesterday pledged to work harder on making gas and electricity bills more affordable.

Pressing the supply companies to simplify tariffs and compete with each other more fiercely is important but hardly sufficient.

For the truth is that it’s not just the “big six” suppliers who are behind the record bills.

The outlandishly expensive target for “renewable” energy supply, especially wind turbines, imposed on the companies by the political class is also a major factor in price rises.

And it is not only domestic consumers who are being hurt – so are businesses. And at a time of high unemployment that is unforgivable.

In his Budget earlier this year Chancellor George Osborne promised to revive the economy by unleashing a “march of the makers”.

But there is little sign of that happening and no wonder – energy-intensive manufacturers are being driven abroad by the cost of power.

It is time for ministers to cut the cost of their green energy targets in recognition of the economic emergency facing families and businesses.

Otherwise we will soon have the most environmentally friendly destitute economy in the world.