Shadow environment secretary Peter Ainsworth told the Tory party conference in Blackpool on Wednesday that Labour are only “tinkering at the edge” of environmental issues and Britain should be a leader not a “laggard”.

He said the party would take forward the recommendations of its Quality of Life Review group to introduce a Power Station Waste Heat Levy that will encourage the capture and use of heat that is normally wasted.

Other proposals include allowing people who switch to renewable energy to sell any excess electricity they generate to the National Grid, ensuring competitive tariffs for renewable technologies and offering incentives to people to recycle more.

Mr Ainsworth said: “Some seem to think that the Green Agenda is a departure from our core values.

“They obviously don’t understand that respect for the countryside and natural world, cutting waste, encouraging innovation, enterprise, and investment in new technologies are, of course, core Conservative values. They always have been and always will be.”

Mr Ainsworth said the Tories’ green policies aimed to reward rather than punish tax payers – especially on the issue of packaging waste.

He said: “Of course we will not charge people for using supermarkets, but any business which produces waste should be made responsible for it; and that includes supermarkets.

“Unlike Labour, we will not punish households for putting stuff in the bin that they never wanted in the first place.”

His comments were echoed by Conservative leader David Cameron in his closing speech on Wednesday.

He said: “Again the old politics is failing. Carbon emissions are up under this Government. Green taxes as a share of total taxes are down.

“We are failing to give people proper incentives. This party never wants to punish or hold back the aspirations of people who want to get on in life and have a good life.

“What we must be is the party of sensible, green leadership, and that is exactly what we are going to stay.”

Kate Martin

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