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Pressure Mounts On Chris Huhne To Come Clean On Green Energy Costs

Plans to expand renewable energy sources will cost families £400 a year by 2020, a leading think tank has warned.

Policy Exchange has accused Energy Secretary Chris Huhne of misleading the public by suggesting bills may go down as a result of the Government’s drive for green energy.

The think tank has called on ministers to be more transparent and believes the Government’s green targets should be renegotiated.

A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said £400 was “not a credible figure and appears to be based on flawed analysis”.

The cost of renewable, or ‘green’ energy is a controversial topic, with both sides disputing the figures.

Environmental policy needs to be debated responsibly on the basis of all the facts, and the public have a right to know the costs they will bear.

MP Dominic Raab

Wednesday’s report came as a row brewed over whether the Government should be forced to reveal estimates for the potential costs of targets to cut carbon emissions.

Dominic Raab, the Conservative MP, has highlighted a Freedom of Information request blocked by the DECC.

The original request – made in February 2010 by Matthew Sinclair, the Director of the Taxpayers Alliance – asked for “analysis of the potential cost of strengthened climate change commitments at Copenhagen”.

The DECC responded a month later to say that it did hold the relevant information, which included seven different items, ranging from a paper prepared for the then-Prime Minister in 2009, and notes from DECC economists.

However, it declined to provide it as “disclosure would adversely affect international relations”. In November 2011, the Information Commissioner refused an appeal.

Chris Huhne

Chris Huhne’s department has not agreed to the FOI request

Mr Raab is now calling on the Energy Secretary to release the information.

He told Sky News: “It is pretty outrageous that Labour leader Ed Miliband buried the economic impact assessment the government did on UK emission reductions offered in an effort to reach a global deal.

“Environmental policy needs to be debated responsibly on the basis of all the facts, and the public have a right to know the costs they will bear.

“There is every reason to believe that Chris Huhne will now release the economic assessment, given his strong stance on transparency and reducing the scope of exemptions under the Freedom of Information Act.”

There is particular pressure on the Liberal Democrats because they have repeatedly called to reduce the number of exemptions.

In Janary 2011, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: “The Freedom of Information Act was a good start, but it was only a start.

“Exceptions remain far too common and the available information is far too often placed behind tedious bureaucratic hurdles.”

In 2009, as the Lib Dem Home Affairs spokesperson, Mr Huhne campaigned to “strengthen freedom of information by giving greater powers to the information commissioner and reducing exemptions”.