Giving his keynote speech at the Labour party conference in Brighton today, Miliband said: “If we win the election 2015 the next Labour government will freeze gas and electricity prices until the start of 2017. Your bills will not rise. It will benefit millions of families and millions of businesses”.

Miliband also pointed to those in Government who claim that protecting the environment during difficult economic times is not viablen, picking out the Chancellor George Osborne.

“He [Osborne] is dead wrong. We can’t afford not to have an environmental commitment at a time like this. That is why Labour will have a world leading commitment in government to take all of the carbon out of our energy by 2030. A route map to one million new green jobs in our country,” he said.

Commenting on Miliband’s speech, Friends of the Earth’s policy and campaigns director Craig Bennett said: “Freezing energy bills will certainly be welcomed by cash-strapped households, who face rocketing
prices due to the soaring cost of gas and bumper energy company profits.

“The only way to deliver an energy system we can all afford is by urgently investing in an ambitious and comprehensive energy efficiency programme and weaning the nation off increasingly costly fossil fuels – and this must be a priority for an incoming Labour Government.

“Ed Miliband was right to put the environment at the heart of his conference speech – he must now put it firmly at the centre of Labour’s policy-making to realise his goal of one million new green jobs,” said Bennett.

However, the Confederation of British Industry’s (CBI) director-general, John Cridland, said businesses will view the proposals on energy as a setback for Labour’s pro-enterprise credentials.

“Rising energy bills are tough on families and businesses. But the proposed energy price freeze will deter much-needed investment and is at odds with Labour’s pledge to decarbonise the economy and create a million green jobs.

“The main reasons that bills are going up is the combination of rising wholesale prices, the cost of policies needed to keep the lights on and the move to a low-carbon economy,” added Cridland.

Speaking at the conference yesterday, shadow energy minister Tom Greatrex MP said the UK will need a smart grid to achieve a low carbon energy future that is affordable and added that there is a “huge infrastructure need that we have to achieve, specifically for networks”.

Leigh Stringer

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