Since the departure of Charles Hendry, Laura Sandys is now PPS to greenest Conservative Minister, Rt Hon Greg Barker, and potentially one of a rare bunch of Conservatives who could be considered ‘green’ at all. It isn’t too hard to see where advocates of renewable energy and tackling climate change get the fear that this Government is incapable of delivering on its “Greenest Government ever” promise.
So will the Climate Change Minister’s new PPS be able to salvage some of that statement? Her words are certainly firm. Speaking at the PRASEG annual conference Sandys said that those who think green and renewables are “sandals and tie-dye issues...need to wake up”. She advocates a “very modern and very smart energy future”. The conference was timely, on the day after DECC colleagues, Ed Davey and John Hayes gave arguably contradictory statements in public. Davey used his speech at the conference to reaffirm where the responsibility for energy policy around renewables sat and that Hayes comments did not reflect Government policy. It can hardly be a surprise that climate change campaigners and, critically, investors in the UK energy mix reacted with shock and disappointment.
So our congratulations most certainly go to Sandys for her dedication to the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee that has prepared her so well for her new role as PPS. If it has taught her anything it will be that the challenges she faces with her own party are as great as those she faces with the investment demand, the awareness and confidence of the Green Deal and the Green Investment Bank, rising fuel prices and of course the Energy Bill and Electricity Market Reform. Her Department as a whole has a lot of weight on its shoulders right now. Everyone is hoping the Energy Bill can deliver.