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Labour accuses Tories of ‘energy disarmament’ and mock ’19th century’ Jacob Rees-Mogg | Climate News

Labour has accused the Tories of “energy disarmament” for faltering on home insulation and nuclear energy, closing gas storage facilities and lifting the ban on fracking.

“We are feeling the consequences of a 12-year Tory experiment in unilateral energy disarmament,” shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves told the Labour Party conference

“And what’s their answer? Lifting the ban on fracking.”

Setting out her vision for the economy, the shadow chancellor promised to “build British industry”, by investing in homegrown projects including eight new battery factories, six clean steel plants and “net zero clusters” in every region of the country.

A new National Wealth Fund, modelled on similar institutions in Norway and Singapore, would help attract private financing for these projects and deliver a return investment to the taxpayer, Labour said.

Ms Reeves also promised to ban fracking as she delivered her “real plan” for the climate, growth and levelling up.

Labour has drawn a dividing line with the Conservatives over the approach to the climate and environment.

Business and energy secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg last week lifted the ban on fracking for shale gas and detailed plans to issue more than 100 licences to explore for oil and gas in a bid to boost the UK’s energy security.

Speaking today before Ms Reeves, shadow climate change and net zero secretary Ed Miliband mocked “19th century” Mr Rees-Mogg and accused him of coming up with an “energy policy for the 1820s”.

Saying it was “cheaper to save the planet than destroy it”, Mr Miliband pledged to turn the country’s power system net-zero carbon by 2035 – five years sooner than the Conservatives promised last year.

On what Labour would do to make Britain a “clean energy superpower”, he stressed the low cost of solar and wind energy and concerns over global supplies.

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Labour: ‘Zero carbon power by 2030’

‘Highly detrimental impact’

Labour’s comments come amid growing backlash from conservationists to the government’s mini-budget announced on Friday, with the RSPB calling it an “attack on nature”.

Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng proposed 38 investment zones – areas in England where the government will loosen planning rules to drive commercial and housing developments, with no provision to safeguard environmental assessments.

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Patrick Begg, director of outdoors and natural resources at the National Trust, told Sky News the plans “could have a highly detrimental impact on this country’s natural environment, beauty and heritage if there aren’t sufficient safeguards in place, and we’d be gravely concerned if ministers didn’t consider the cumulative effect of loosening the current protections”.

Nature charities also criticised rumoured plans to return to EU-style land subsidies, scrapping the newer environmental land management schemes which ensure nature is protected on farms.

Kate Norgrove, the WWF’s executive director of advocacy and campaigns, said farmers “need certainty” and “chopping and changing agricultural policy on a whim” would not bolster UK food security.

“There is no food security without nature,” she said, adding that the Conservative government was elected on the promises of its greenest ever manifesto.

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) chief executive Beccy Speight also expressed concern that the government does not plan to keep EU laws protecting wildlife, rivers, clean air and food standards after unveiling its Retained EU Law Bill.

A government spokesperson said claims they intend to row back on their commitments “are simply not right”, asserting that a “strong environment and a strong economy go hand-in-hand”.

“Bureaucratic processes” in the planning system do not necessarily protect the environment, they added.

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