Lib Dem growth warning
06:30 25 September 2012
Energy secretary Ed Davey has accused people around chancellor George Osborne of holding back industries expected to provide a thousand jobs in East Anglia in the next five years.
Mr Davey was addressing a seminar at his party’s annual conference in Brighton when he argued that the ‘green economy’ was one of the biggest growth sectors in the UK.
The green economy is the term used to refer to business opportunities presented by the UK becoming more environmentally friendly; for example, in the renewable energy sector or through work to make buildings more energy efficient.
The sector is thought to be worth £112bn to Britain, with that figure expected to jump by 45pc in the next two years. Meanwhile firms in Norfolk and Suffolk are at the forefront of the green economy, with business leaders here estimating it will create 1,000 new jobs in East Anglia by 2017.
They, along with supporters of the green economy in government, have been arguing that its industries should get clearer state subsidies, while others, including some Conservative MPS, say those subsidies should be cut.
Giving his backing to the green economy yesterday, Mr Davey warned the chancellor that he would regret it if he did not use the sector to deliver economic growth.
He said: “There’s a huge prize here. There’s billions of pounds of investment to unlock really soon – that’s jobs, that’s green growth and I’m not afraid of taking people on and winning the argument.
“There are people around George Osborne who don’t share my analysis. But the thing about the chancellor you’ve got to remember is that he is going to be judged and held responsible by his own party and by his own people about how well he delivers growth.”
The comments follow a bruising political battle earlier this year between Mr Davey and the chancellor over how high subsidies supporting wind farms should be; it concluded with them being cut by 10pc, as opposed to the 25pc Mr Osborne wanted.
Speaking to the EDP Lib Dem minister and North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb also said it was vital for the government to back green industries.
He said: “This is hugely important to Norfolk and the whole of East Anglia, because we’ve got enormous potential all over the region; in my own constituency with off shore wind.
“We’ve got a fantastic chance to build a new sector with huge potential to boost growth and provide jobs for our young people and we have to take it.
“My message to Conservatives is that they made a big splash in opposition by saying they would be a green government and that was what they held out to the electorate, they should stick with it and not recoil.”