The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has disputed comments made by a Conservative MP last week that the government’s carbon plan would be published as late as June.
James Heappey MP, a former member of the energy and climate change select committee, was widely reported to have said at last week’s Renewable UK event that the emissions reduction plan would be pushed back to the summer.
This was later clarified by Emma Pinchbeck, executive director of Renewable UK, that the MP for Wells had said "he wouldn't be surprised if" this was the case.
However, speaking to sister publication Solar Power Portal in response to Heappey’s comments, a spokesperson from BEIS said: “That is not the government official position. We don't recognise those comments to be valid. The deadline he [Heappey] is quoting is not something we have said and so I'm disputing his comments.”
They also said that Heappey was not “in the government”, referring to his status as an MP and not a minister for the department.
BEIS also denied that the emissions reduction plan, formerly known as the carbon plan, had been renamed the Clean Growth Plan, adding: “Those are his comments, not ours.”
The department has repeatedly refused to set a timescale for the publication of its plan for meeting the UK’s carbon budgets, which was originally scheduled for publication before the end of 2016.
This was first pushed back to February 2017 before the government’s recently published industrial strategy stated the plan would be published “during 2017”, hinting that the government would no longer meet previously-set deadlines.
BEIS has faced a considerable backlog of work since its formation in last summer, when Heappey expressed concerns that energy policy would become an afterthought within the department’s much larger portfolio.
As well as the emissions plan, BEIS has faced pressure to complete its call for evidence on a smart, flexible power system for the UK. While this closed in January a spokesperson for Ofgem, which co-published the CfE with BEIS, this morning stated that a response would be published in late May or early June, coinciding with Heappey’s timetable for the ‘Clean Growth Plan’.
In response to BEIS' push back on his comments, Heappey told SPP: "If the department think it's coming out sooner then brilliant, the sooner the better obviously but I was under the impression that it might be a little while longer.
"I caveated what I said at the time that I am just a mere backbencher, but I was under the impression that they were nudging towards the summer and if they're not then that's great news."