Page last updated at 13:15 GMT, Thursday, 21 August 2008 14:15 UK

Clegg unveils green energy vision

Nick Clegg
Nick Clegg set out his vision for energy security at an offshore wind farm

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg has unveiled plans for an "energy independent" Britain by 2050, which he says can be achieved by boosting renewable energy.

He is calling for a programme on the scale of the Apollo moon mission to end the UK's increasing dependence on foreign coal, gas and oil.

The government wants more nuclear energy, but he says wave, biomass, wind and solar power is the way forward.

The Tories say Mr Clegg's plans "defy reality" and "verge on the loopy".

Setting out the details on a visit to an offshore wind farm in the North Sea earlier, Mr Clegg said the crisis in Georgia had brought the problem of dependence on foreign energy sources into sharp relief.

'Enormous opportunity'

"Rather than use its period in office to reduce Britain's dependency on vulnerable supplies from unstable regions, Labour has dithered and flip-flopped for over a decade," he said.

He said there was an "enormous opportunity" to create energy independence through renewable energy, which he said was "realistic and achievable".


But he said it would require "leadership and vision" and he accused the government of "tired thinking".

Energy security is high on the political agenda as Britain moves from being a net fuel exporter to a net importer.

The war between Russia and Georgia has also reinforced fears Europe could be held to ransom if it becomes too dependent on gas and coal from the East.

Insulation plans

The government wants to build a new generation of nuclear power stations - but the Lib Dems say the cash should be spent on renewable sources of energy instead.

Mr Clegg would also force energy companies to spend 9bn on insulating homes and helping the poor meet their bills.

The party wants the UK to be both energy independent and carbon neutral by 2050.

To deny the looming energy gap and to pretend that with his policies he can realistically become the prophet of total energy independence for the UK is irresponsible
Alan Duncan
Shadow business secretary

Earlier Mr Clegg told BBC Radio 4's Today programme he wanted to see the creation of a renewables delivery authority - similar to the Olympic Delivery Authority - to make a "complete revolution" in energy supply a reality.

"The government has spooked everyone into thinking that we need nuclear by saying there's going to be a terrible energy gap - the lights are going to go out in the middle of the next decade.

"There's actually no evidence that's the case at all. They've raised the wrong problem in order to push the wrong solution."

Energy 'prophet'

Mr Clegg also said Britain must improve the energy efficiency of its housing stock, with better insulation and more widespread use of meters.

Shadow business secretary Alan Duncan, for the Conservatives, said his party had also called for greater energy efficiency and a push for renewables.

But he added: "His [Mr Clegg's] overall conclusions defy reality.

"To deny the looming energy gap and to pretend that with his policies he can realistically become the prophet of total energy independence for the UK is irresponsible and verges on the loopy."

He said without coal and nuclear power the UK could not power large factories and cope with sudden surges in demand without relying on imported gas.

But Friends of the Earth's head of campaigns, Mike Childs, said: "Nick Clegg is absolutely right to call for a green energy revolution. The only sustainable future for the UK is one based on a combination of renewable energy and energy efficiency."

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