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Greg Barker Promises Transparent, Lasting and Certain Cuts In Green Subsidies

Climate change minister Greg Barker has set a new mantra for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) by pledging to treat all future energy policies with TLC – transparency, longevity and certainty.

Speaking to delegates at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) today, Barker vowed TLC will become the “touchstone” of all DECC policies. He accused his Labour predecessors of frequently tweaking policies, causing confusion among investors – a criticism with which the CBI agreed.

However, despite his positive outlook, in almost the same breath he urged firms to prepare for project cuts and reduced incentives as part of the government’s upcoming comprehensive spending review.

“The best role …of government is to help de-risk business investment,” he said. “Our actions should help you lower the cost of the capital you need to raise and deploy, particularly in innovation and technology, rather than simply by continuing to subsidise high-cost technology and interventions.”

The minister declined to comment on the fate of specific programmes, including the Renewable Heat Incentive, doubts about which have been voiced previously. However, he warned that “some very good projects” will have to be scaled back, while some less significant programmes will be axed altogether.

He also indicated that the government is considering plans to commercialise the green investment bank, but declined to give any further details.

Barker’s comments were welcomed by Neil Bentley, director of the CBI, who told BusinessGreen.com he hoped the TLC pledge would offer long-term support for businesses seeking to invest.

However, it remains to be seen if the coalition will succeed in boosting low-carbon investment without the subsidies provided by the previous government. Critics have voiced concern that the government is already failing to deliver on its pledge to become the “greenest government” ever.

BusinessGreen, 14 September 2010