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Amber Rudd under fire over leaked letter on 'missed energy targets'

Published 09/11/2015

Amber Russ has told Parliament the UK is on track to meet its goals for 30% renewable electricity generation by 2020
Amber Russ has told Parliament the UK is on track to meet its goals for 30% renewable electricity generation by 2020

Energy Secretary Amber Rudd has come under fire over a leaked letter warning the UK is set to miss legal targets on renewable energy.

According to the letter published by the Ecologist magazine, Ms Rudd has acknowledged to colleagues that the UK is set to fall short of its European Union target to source 15% of energy, including for transport, power and heating, from renewables by 2020.

Despite internal forecasts the UK will fall short of the goal by almost a quarter (23%), the letter said that p ublicly the Government was clear the UK continues to make progress to meet the target.

The leak has prompted an angry response from green campaigners, warning it demonstrates the Government's "incoherent" energy policy, which has seen cuts to renewables support, community energy and energy efficiency measures since the election.

The letter also appears to suggest ways of meeting the target by buying hydropower from Norway, purchasing clean energy from other EU states or doing a deal with a European country which has over-achieved on its targets to buy their "credits", and even negotiating for flexibility in the goal.

A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said they did not comment on leaked documents.

The Energy Secretary has told Parliament the UK is on track to meet its goals for 30% renewable electricity generation by 2020, he said.

The UK has also exceeded its interim target of 5.4% of all energy coming from renewables in 2013/2014, reaching 6.3%.

"We continue to make progress to meet our overall renewable energy target," the spokesman said.

But Greenpeace's head of energy Daisy Sands said: " For the first time, we learn that the Government is expecting to miss the EU's legally binding renewables target. This is hugely shocking. But more deplorably, it is willfully hiding this from public scrutiny.

"The Government is planning on cutting support for the solar and wind subsidies in the name of affordability. But perversely, we see that the Government believes investing in renewable energy projects involving buying power from abroad is more desirable than supporting home-grown renewable energy industries.

"Even more worryingly, it seems the Government is seeking to haggle with the EU to revise down our legal commitments. This policy makes no environmental or economic sense as the UK is losing jobs and affordable clean, renewable energy sources."

Green MEP Molly Scott Cato said: "I have already raised with the European Commission my concerns about the fact that the Government's changes to energy policy make it unlikely we will meet our renewables target.

"The evidence in this letter shows the Secretary of State is aware of this serious situation and I will now be following this up with further questions as a matter of urgency."

Shadow energy secretary Lisa Nandy said: "At the very same time the Energy Secretary is telling her Cabinet colleagues in private we're not on course to meet our legal target on clean energy, she is cutting wind and solar schemes that could help us to meet it.

"It beggars belief that ministers are pursuing these regressive steps, and damaging our international reputation on climate change, less than a month before the important Paris summit."

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said: "This Conservative Government must stop undoing the Liberal Democrats' work to support our renewables industry. It risks thousands of jobs as well as our work in tackling climate change and I urge them to take a longer term view."

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