Page last updated at 22:59 GMT, Wednesday, 30 April 2008 23:59 UK

MPs reject renewable energy move

Solar panels
The amendment was backed by climate change experts

Labour rebels have failed in a bid to force the government to introduce a scheme within a year to boost Britain's take-up of renewable energy.

The Energy Bill amendment would have made it more cost-effective for people generating their own renewable energy using solar panels and wind turbines.

The "feed-in" tariffs would have set long-term fixed prices for renewable energy fed into the national grid.

The move, led by Labour's Alan Simpson, was defeated by 250 votes to 210.

It had garnered cross-party support with some 276 MPs from all parties signing a Commons motion ahead of Wednesday's vote.

Some 35 Labour MPs voted against the government. Among the Labour rebels were former ministers Kate Hoey, Frank Field, Michael Meacher and Chris Mullin.

'Better alternatives'

The move for an amendment also had the backing of climate change experts, Institution of Mechanical Engineers, the House Builders Federation, the TUC, the National Farmers Union, Greenpeace and the RSPB.

Mr Simpson, MP for Nottingham South, argued feed-in tariffs (FITs) would help the UK achieve its EU renewables obligation of delivering 15% of energy from renewable sources by 2020.

He said the UK was lagging behind about 50 countries which have already introduced some form of FIT legislation.

But energy minister Malcolm Wicks said the government would consider FITs and other options to support microgeneration during its renewable energy consultation this summer.

He told MPs now was not the time to impose such a requirement when better alternatives might be available.

He also warned the amendment could cover all sizes of energy generation and have a potentially serious effect on investor confidence.

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