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Energy Blog Ed Milliband – UK Energy Firms too Close to Ministers

Ed Milliband – UK Energy Firms too Close to Ministers

Chris Hurcombe
by Chris Hurcombe October 10, 2013
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Labour leader Ed Milliband has targeted energy lobbyists who deal with government ministers as part of a drive for transparency in Government.  Speaking to The Independent, Mr Milliband cited that ministers have met with lobbyists from the ‘Big Six’ commercial energy providers five times more often than consumer groups, accusing ministers of being ‘too close’ to energy companies. As part of amends that Labour will suggest to the Lobbying Bill, returning to the Commons tomorrow, lobbyists – including in-house staff from business energy providers – would be forced to sign on to a register maintained by the Government and impose ‘real sanctions’ as part of a revised code of conduct.

Mr Miliband said: “The Government’s Lobbying Bill will not capture the big energy lobbyists, who will continue to escape scrutiny. We will bring in a universal register of all professional lobbyists, along with a code of conduct backed by sanctions.”

“We have an energy market that isn’t working for ordinary families and businesses. Yet rather than act, this Tory-led Government is letting energy firms overcharge millions of families who are struggling to pay their ever-rising energy bills.” He added: “With a cost of living crisis gripping Britain, hardworking people need a government that fights for them. Instead we have a Prime Minister who always stands up for a privileged few.”, Mr Miliband claimed.

The Department for Energy & Climate Change, however, defended it’s current relationship with energy providers. The DECC claimed all it’s contact with lobbyists is ‘entirely above board’;

A Decc spokesman replied: “Keeping the lights on and delivering value to consumers is a vital job and it is perfectly normal for Decc ministers and officials regularly to meet with energy suppliers as well as independent players and environmental and consumer groups to discuss energy issues.”

Labour also announced last week that if they win the general election in 2015, they would enforce a ban on sending food waste to UK landfills.

Shadow environment minister Mary Creagh, speaking at the Labour Party annual conference in Brighton, told delegates, “A One Nation Labour government will ban food from landfill so that less food gets wasted in the supermarket supply chain and more food gets eaten by hungry children.”

This change in legislature would likely have a knock-on effect on the commercial energy market. With a ban on sending food waste to landfill, recycling and methods like anaerobic digestion are likely to gain popularity.

With new digesters set to open around the country in the next twelve months, the increased competition and more readily-available feedstock are likely to drive down biogas as a source of commercial energy in the run-up to the EU ‘20% Renewables by 2020’ initiative deadline.