Energy Secretary Ed Davey cast himself yesterday as an “insurgent” embroiled in a battle with Tories who want to stop the spread of windfarms and “frack every square mile”.
He claimed to have said “no” on a daily basis to requests from his Conservative coalition partners who want to block new onshore turbine schemes.
The Liberal Democrat minister even accused Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles of “abusing ministerial power” by calling in planning applications in England.
On the controversy over fracking, he told delegates at his party’s Glasgow conference that is was not wrong to support shale gas extraction, but that it was not the “magic bullet” some Tories believe.
As part of his clean energy war, Mr Davey announced to activists that the Lib Dems would seek to ban coal from being used to produce electricity by 2025, if in power again after May’s election.
The spread of windfarms has become a major issue across the country in recent years, not least in the north and north-east.
However, Mr Davey was proud of his party’s record on the issue.
“Onshore wind has been growing fast under us,” he said in his keynote conference speech.
“It now generates around 5% of our electricity, and it’s still growing.
“But the Tories don’t like this. Day after day they’ve urged me to cap onshore wind. I’ve just said no.
“Not just because it’s vital for climate change. But also to keep energy bills down, as onshore wind is now the cheapest large scale green energy option.”
Fracking has many opponents amid safety and environmental concerns.
Mr Davey insisted it should be a part of the country’s energy mix, but must not proceed unrestrained.
“As North Sea gas production falls, we simply cannot afford to turn our back on our own, home grown gas supplies,” he said.
“But I have had to hold back the Tories’ desire to frack every square mile of Britain.
“Ensuring that gas exploration is safe. Protecting our national parks, areas of outstanding beauty and world heritage sites. Stopping a Tory free-for-all on fracking.”
“That’s what we’ve done – with our evidence based approach, not a vested interest based approach.”
He said his “insurgent battle for clean energy” was not just against Tories but also the legacy from Labour, the “big six” power firms and civil service intransigence.