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Clegg Confirms Coalition Rift Over Green Policies

Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat Deputy Prime Minister, will today confirm rifts within the Coalition Government over green energy policy such as wind turbines.

In a speech at an energy conference, he will admit to “internal divisions and debates,” but will vow to press on with measures to reduce carbon emissions.

Last month, the Coalition came under strain after the Lib Dems fought off attempts by George Osborne, the Chancellor, to scrap subsidies for on-shore wind farms.

It came after the Chancellor used his speech to last year’s Conservative conference to warn: “we’re not going to save the planet by putting our country out of business”.

The two sides compromised with a 10 per cent reduction, less than the 25 per cent that Mr Osborne had fought for, and in his speech Mr Clegg will admit that divisions remain.

In a move which is likely to irritate the Chancellor, who had been responding to calls from Tory MPs when he fought to see off wind farm subsidies, the Liberal Democrat leader promised business leaders that Government would in future be “consistent” over its message on green energy.

Mr Clegg said: “The Coalition is sometimes presented in the press as if it is riddled with debate and division with regard to greening the economy. That isn’t the case.

“Yes, there will be internal discussions and debates on the balance and sequencing of different policies – that’s the nature of any government – and energy policies will evolve over time as costs come down.

“That’s why, for example, we could recently reduce the subsidy for onshore wind. But the entire Government is working within the parameters of the carbon budget, which sets the pace for decarbonising our economy, and there is no one in Government who wants to depart from that.

“This Coalition Government is unreservedly committed to helping our low-carbon sector thrive – no ifs, no buts. And we want to support the shift by traditional industry to cleaner sources of energy – while of course recognising the pressures they face.”

The Deputy Prime Minister will use the conference, at London’s Lancaster House, to announce £100 million of investment in energy efficiency.

He will highlight the announcement by recycling firm Closed Loop of a £12 million expansion of its plastics purification plant in Dagenham, east London, which is expected to create and safeguard 100 jobs.

The conference will also hear of plans by Spanish company Grupotec to expand its solar energy operations in the UK, creating nine jobs in Richmond, Surrey, and by Power Electronics to open a UK headquarters in Reading, Berkshire, creating four jobs.

The Daily Telegraph, 6 August 2012