My husband died like a battery hen, frightened, cold and ignored by hospital staff: MP’s tearful attack on NHS care
A Leftist experiences what her party has created. She won’t connect the dots, though
A senior MP broke down in tears yesterday as she condemned the ‘coldness, indifference and contempt’ of nurses she blames for her husband’s death.
Ann Clwyd said her beloved Owen Roberts died ‘like a battery hen’ after her repeated pleas for NHS nurses to help him were ‘brushed aside’.
Miss Clwyd, a Labour MP for 28 years, sobbed as she revealed she has nightmares over the way Mr Roberts died six weeks ago ‘from the cold and from people who didn’t care’.
At one stage, she said, her 6ft 2in husband was ‘squashed up against the iron bars of the bed’ and nurses cried ‘anybody for breakfast’ at the very moment that he passed away.
Her excoriating verdict on the NHS came as the chief nursing officer for England called for more compassion in hospitals. Jane Cummings said such values should be ‘embedded’ in public health care.
Miss Clwyd’s husband, a former head of news and current affairs at BBC Wales and an ITV executive, had multiple sclerosis and died aged 73 on October 23 this year at University Hospital of Wales, in Cardiff.
She said he had hospital-induced pneumonia and nurses did not keep him warm or care for him.
The day before he died, she visited him from 2.30pm to 10.30pm, and wrote in a text message to a friend at 10.59pm: ‘No doctor has been to see him since this morning. Very few nurses around either. Not very happy with the set up.’ At 5am the next day she was called in and found her husband wearing an oxygen mask.
In an emotional interview on Radio 4’s The World at One, Miss Clwyd said: ‘He didn’t have any clothes over him, he was half-covered by two, very thin, inadequate sheets, his feet were sticking out of the bed at an angle, and he was extremely cold. I tried to cover him with a towel.
‘He was very distressed and totally aware of his situation and, although unable to speak because of the oxygen mask, he made it clear he was cold and wanted to come home. Well, a few hours later, he died.’
The 75-year-old MP for Cynon Valley claimed she had seen a nurses’ round only ‘once’ during her entire eight-hour visit the day before his death.
She said: ‘I kept asking people. I would go into the corridor and there were just no nurses around. I stopped one nurse in the corridor and asked her why he wasn’t in intensive care. She said, “There are lots of people worse than him”, and she walked on. I previously stopped another nurse and asked when a doctor had last seen him, and I was just brushed aside, and told a doctor had been to the floor but had not seen my husband, but she said, “We know what to do.”
‘Well I feel that “we know what to do” meant “do nothing”.’
The veteran politician, a former chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party, recalled her campaigning for legislation on the welfare of battery hens, and said: ‘My husband died like a battery hen.’
Describing the conditions in which her husband of 49 years – they had no children – spent his final hours, she said: ‘He is 6ft 2in, he was squashed up against the iron bars of the bed, an oxygen mask that didn’t fit his face, his eye was infected and, because the air from the oxygen was blowing into it, his lips were very dry and I used my own Lypsyl to try to moisten them. There were no nurses around.
‘At eight o’clock, just before he died, all the lights in the ward went on and somebody shouted “Anybody for breakfast?”
‘It was obviously totally inappropriate when they knew there was somebody dying in that four-bed ward. The man next to him had been feeling hot and had a fan on and it was blowing the cold air towards my husband. I really do feel he died of cold and he died from people who didn’t care.’
She made clear she did not include all the nurses, but lamented what she described as the ‘coldness, resentment, indifference and even contempt’ of some of them.
Despite her experience in the corridors of power, she said she felt helpless at her inability to save her husband. ‘It gives me nightmares,’ she said, and began to cry as she added: ‘I find it very difficult to sleep…and very difficult to talk about.’
Miss Clwyd said she was speaking out so that other people should not have to suffer in the same way. ‘I think it’s just too commonplace this kind of thing,’ she said. ‘I kept thinking about him being cold, but then I thought he was with professionals. That’s so basic. I can’t believe anybody calling themselves a nurse could actually let that happen. Nobody, nobody should have to die in conditions like I saw my husband die in.’
A Left-winger, Miss Clwyd is a well-known advocate of human rights for beleaguered minorities such as the Kurds.
Last night the hospital’s executive director of nursing, Ruth Walker, said staff had offered to meet Miss Clwyd so that a formal investigation could begin. ‘We take such matters extremely seriously,’ she said.
‘We will not tolerate poor care which is why it is so important that each incident is fully investigated so that we can drive up standards and provide patients and their families with the quality of care they need and deserve.’ [The usual British B.S.]
NHS doing their best to kill a man who was originally hospitalized with a minor ailment only
A hospital was yesterday accused of secretly placing a 68-year-old musician on the Liverpool Care Pathway after launching a court battle against his family.
David James was admitted to hospital with constipation last May but contracted pneumonia and had to be transferred to intensive care.
The married grandfather has remained there since, suffering severe infections, the near failure of his kidneys, a stroke and a heart attack.
Yesterday the trust launched a rare legal bid to withdraw ‘aggressive’ treatment of Mr James, arguing the pain and distress it caused him were out of proportion to his tiny chances of recovery.
But his wife and children challenged the application, saying they were able to communicate with him by lip-reading and blaming his deterioration on being placed on the controversial pathway, something the hospital – which cannot be named for legal reasons – denies.
Daughter Julie James, 48, told the Court of Protection: ‘I’ve always believed that from about when Dad was ventilated, he was put on the Liverpool Care Pathway. I believe he’s been put on and taken off, put on and taken off. I do believe the pathway hasn’t worked, that’s why he keeps bouncing back.’
She said she could lip-read her father asking ‘Why aren’t you in work?’ when she visited him in the morning, and suggested the hospital was taking action because he had been on the unit for so long.
Miss James added: ‘There’s never been a diagnosis made – Dad has been seven months on the critical care unit. I just think he’s been there too long.’ She accused doctors of worsening his condition by refusing to give him fluids, adding: ‘We’ve never seen him in pain, we’ve never seen him grimace.’
Mr James, a well-known guitarist who played on the 1974 hit Who Do You Think You Are? by Candlewick Green, overcame bowel cancer ten years ago.
In May he was admitted to the hospital and initially seemed to be doing well. However later that month he became critically ill after contracting pneumonia and was transferred to intensive care. Doctors warned his family he was unlikely to survive, but despite suffering multiple organ failure and needing constant monitoring for low blood pressure, he is still in the hospital’s critical care unit.
He cannot speak after having a tracheotomy and the trust does not accept he is capable of expressing his wishes in any other way.
Yesterday the trust went to court seeking permission to stop giving Mr James medication to raise his blood pressure, dialysis for his kidneys or cardiopulmonary resuscitation if he suffers a heart attack. The court heard that if the judge agrees, Mr James will suffer further infections, slip into a coma and die.
An independent intensive care consultant who has examined Mr James for the Official Solicitor – who is acting on his behalf – has backed the hospital’s argument that he is in distress and has no realistic prospect of recovery.
But in emotional evidence his family yesterday told the court they did not believe the doctors and insisted he smiled when they visited and enjoyed reading the newspaper, listening to music and seeing his grandchildren.
Mr James’s wife May, 67, who celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary at his bedside in September, said he sat up and read a newspaper just this week. She said when he was diagnosed with bowel cancer, his attitude was: ‘This isn’t going to beat me.’
Asked what he would say to doctors who wanted to withdraw treatment now, she said: ‘He would feel exactly the same.’
Earlier the court heard from a consultant treating Mr James, who can be referred to only as Dr G, who said: ‘I can unequivocally state we’ve never used or considered using the Liverpool Care Pathway in Mr James’s case.’
Independent doctor Christopher Danbury examined Mr James and confirmed that he was only minimally conscious. He said his chances of recovery were less than 1 per cent. The case continues.
Appalling British judge
A judge who told a burglar that stealing from homes took ‘a huge amount of courage’ before setting him free has been formally reprimanded.
Judge Peter Bowers admitted he could be pilloried for sparing Richard Rochford from prison at Teesside Crown Court when he made the comment in September.
David Cameron got involved in the outcry that followed saying that burglars were cowards, not brave, and their crimes were ‘hateful’.
Following an investigation, the Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice have upheld complaints about the judge’s comments and issued him with a reprimand after his remarks ‘damaged public confidence in the judicial process’, the Office for Judicial Complaints said.
They believed the use of the word courage was a ‘serious error of judgement’ and ‘offensive’ to those who have been victims of a burglary, according to a letter from the OJC to one of the complainants, radio presenter Nick Ferrari.
Judge Bowers told an offender who raided three homes in five days: ‘It takes a huge amount of courage, as far as I can see, for somebody to burgle somebody’s house. I wouldn’t have the nerve.’
Handing 26-year-old Richard Rochford, from Redcar, a suspended 12-month term, the judge said: ‘I’m going to take a chance on you’, the Evening Gazette newspaper reported.
After acknowledging the trauma burglary victims face, the judge explained he would not jail Rochford, who had quit drugs since the February break-ins. He was given a two-year supervision order with drug rehabilitation and 200 hours’ unpaid work, with a one-year driving ban.
Following the case, Mr Ferrari, who presents the LBC 97.3 breakfast show, sent a written complaint to the OJC after he was contacted by thousands of listeners venting their anger at the judge’s remarks.
He said: ‘These comments appear to praise this individual even though he was found guilty of his crime. In addition to this the sentence seems to reward this man for his behaviour rather than punish. ‘He could have been jailed for two-and-a-half years but instead he was given a suspended 12-month jail sentence.
‘The comment and the sentence has upset and angered my listeners, many of whom have been victims of burglaries.’
Following the decision to reprimand the judge, the OJC replied: ‘Whilst His Honour Judge (HHJ) Bowers regrets his use of the word ‘courage’ the Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice believe that this was a serious error of judgment and offensive to those who have been victims of a burglary.
‘They also believe that HHJ Bowers’ conduct has been damaging to the respect of the judicial process. For this reason, HHJ Bowers has been issued with a formal reprimand.’
Announcing the decision, an OJC spokesman said: ‘His Honour Judge Peter Bowers has been issued with a reprimand following complaints about remarks he made during his sentencing of a burglar at Teesside Crown Court.
‘The Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice considered his comments to have damaged public confidence in the judicial process.’
Autumn Statement: British PM announces bureaucracy cuts to fund schools
Good if it happens
Thousands of civil servants are expected to be sacked under plans to raise £5 billion in the Autumn Statement for building new roads and schools to help stimulate the economy.
David Cameron and George Osborne are ordering government departments to reduce their administration costs in a move that could see one in four civil servants sacked in some departments.
The Prime Minister said the Government would cut “unnecessary spending” and put the money into infrastucture projects to help drive economic growth.
Speaking on a visit to Corpus Christi School in Brixton, south London, the Prime Minister said: “Government departments aren’t actually spending up to their budgets so I think we can say to them, you’ve got to cut back some spending, including some unnecessary spending.
“Let’s put that money into things that will make a difference in our country and in our economy – more roads, more school buildings, more infrastructure to make our economy work better, to make our country work better.”
Nick Clegg said the plans would mean Government money was used for the best possible purposes as it would not be “tied up in Whitehall”.
The Deputy Prime Minister said: “We now know that it’s going to take longer to clear up the mess left by Labour than we’d once hoped and that’s why we’re even more determined in the Coalition Government to do it as fairly as possible, to spread the burden as evenly as possible so that we can wipe the slate clean for our children and our grandchildren.
“Today’s announcement is all about making sure that the money we do have available to us is used for the best possible purposes – not tied up in Whitehall but used to rebuild schools, to improve our transport infrastructure, to invest in the things that this country needs for the long term.
“Everybody accepts in Government that when money’s tight, when everybody is having to tighten their belts and when everybody is facing very stretching bills for households up and down the country, we have a responsibility to taxpayers and the nation make sure the money we do have is used for the best possible purposes.
“I can’t think of a better purpose than spending £1 billion on expanding school buildings so that children can go to school in their local area where there are insufficient places.”
The Chancellor will detail which departments are to face the greatest reductions when he gives his Autumn Statement in the House of Commons on Wednesday.
He will ask his colleagues to find more savings after seeing how Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, slashed more than 1,000 jobs in his department.
Mr Osborne told the Cabinet today that he wants to spend the £5 billion of savings on building projects over next two years. These will include new schools, roads, science schemes and skills projects, Downing Street said.
Whitehall departments will be asked to save an additional one per cent on their budgets next year and two per cent in 2014, on top of savings set out in when the Coalition came to power.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said there was clearly potential to make further savings in the running costs of Whitehall.
He said government departments were being urged to raise their game to the “best in class”, and hailed the example of cost cutting at the Department for Education. Michael Gove’s department is cutting its running costs by 50 per cent and making 1,000 staff redundant, a quarter of its workforce.
“It is certainly possible to drive further efficiencies through departments if everyone moves up to best in class,” the PM’s spokesman said.
“So for example, if you look at what Department for Education has been doing on their admin spending and if you saw other departments taking a similar approach we would be able to find additional savings.
“Clearly spending on frontline services will continue to be prioritised. We certainly want to deal with admin budgets and reduce admin budgets.”
Senior Downing Street figures and ministers have expressed frustration over the way the Civil Service has been slow to implement reforms.
An internal Department for Education review earlier this year criticised the Civil Service’s “slow and laborious” working style for sapping the “energy” of staff.
Under the radical plan for speeding up the way officials work, one in four civil servants at the DfE will be dismissed and the remaining staff will focus “ruthlessly” on ministers’ priorities.
The £5 billion of new investment will be spent over the next two years and targeted at transport, skills, science and schools. Officials said £1 billion would be spent on new schools, funding extra places in areas with the greatest demand from young families.
Some 100 new academies and free schools are expected to be built in the next two years, with the money.
The cuts apply directly to England only, but there will be knock-on effects for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland under the complicated formula which determines central funding for the different parts of the United Kingdom.
Local government will be exempted from the cuts in the first year, as it is already having to find savings to deliver a council tax freeze, but councils will be required to meet the 2% cut in 2014/15. The NHS budget and spending on international aid are also expected to be protected.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defence will be given more flexibility to retain funding that it has not spent, which last year amounted to almost £400 million. As a result, ministers believe that there will be no cuts to military manpower or core MoD budgets.
The cuts across Whitehall departments relate to day-to-day resource spending, rather than capital spending projects.
The Treasury calculates that the cuts mean that the new investment falls within the Government’s existing plans and will not involve further state borrowing.
Mr Osborne is under pressure to boost growth with a raft of major new construction projects, after the UK headed back into recession this year.
British rap music fan who shouted n***** at a black man is CLEARED of racism as magistrates accept he was using ‘street slang’
He would probably not have gotten away with it in America, where the word triggers a national neurosis
A rap-mad music fan who shouted n***** at a black man has walked free from court after magistrates agreed he had just been using ‘street slang’.
Christopher Jones was arrested after he was overheard aiming the offensive word at a group of men in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, on September 10.
But the sign-writer claimed he couldn’t be racist because he listened to hip-hop music, had ‘more black friends than white friends’ and this is what he called everyone.
Police charged him with using racially-aggravated words or behaviour and Jones was hauled before magistrates last week.
And he was cleared of racist abuse after successfully arguing that he regularly uses the word n****r as ‘a term of endearment’ on the streets around his home.
North Staffordshire Magistrates ruled he had used the phrase without hostility – and dismissed the case. ‘This word has crept into the English language and is used on a regular basis,’ he said. ‘His use of the word is popular culture.
However anti-race campaigners yesterday condemned the court ruling saying the word had too many negative connotations and should not be used in any circumstances.
Climate change funds earmarked for Africa ‘are going to corporations’
Climate change: British taxpayers’ money for climate aid is going to large businesses such as Walmart rather than going directly to help poor people, according to campaigners.
At the latest round of climate change talks in Doha, Qatar, the UK pledged almost £2bn over the next two years to help poor countries cope with climate change.
But the World Development Movement said the money is going to large companies rather than helping poor people likely to suffer from climate change.
A recent example was £385m, channeled through a World Bank project to promote clean energy in poor countries.
WDM say that most of the money went to private companies to build wind turbines or solar panels for profit.
Some £10m ended up going towards a 27-turbine farm in the state of Oaxaca in Mexico, operated by the French energy giant EDF, to be paid back in 15 years.
WDM claim that all of the electricity is being used by Walmart, the owner of the Asda supermarket chain, rather than for local people. Also land owned by indigenous people was used without their consent.
The latest tranche of UK climate change aid spending, includes £150 million towards projects such as building more solar panels in Africa.
Alex Scrivener, the World Development Movement’s policy officer, feared the money would again go to private companies.
“While it is good that the UK government has reaffirmed its previous commitments on climate finance, it looks like it has continued to move in the wrong direction in terms of how to spend the money. Most of the money will be spent on projects that put big business rather than the poor in the driving seat. This means we may see more large-scale corporate energy projects which fail to boost energy access.
“The UK government is trying to present itself as being progressive on climate change by making this announcement at Doha. But this conceals a pro-corporate agenda which risks channelling money meant for the poor to benefit big business.
“The UK’s obsession with bringing in big business at all costs risks leaving projects that help poor people adapt to the effects of climate change without funds. These projects are often not profitable and are therefore not attractive to private sector investors. It is these vital adaptation projects that should be made a priority for support with UK public money.”
Greg Barker, the Energy and Climate Change Minister, insisted that public money will continue to go directly to help poor communities adapt to floods and droughts and other impacts from global warming.
But he said that channeling money through the private sector could ensure billions more cash is spent on helping the developing world to go green.
He pointed out that UK investors could make money from leading the way on providing low carbon goods and services, not only helping out own economy but those in developing countries.
The CBI estimate this sector could be worth £4 trillion by 2015.
Mr Barker said he was pushing for City of London to lead the way in providing the financial instruments such as pension funds, insurance and ‘green bonds’ that will fund low carbon projects.
The UK is leading a meeting of private sector investors in Abu Dhabi early next year to develop these low carbon goods and services in the City.
“For me this meeting (in Doha) is about an audacious land grab for global green goods and services market,” Mr Barker said.
Climate change aid is a key part of the UN negotiating process moving towards a deal in 2015.
Poor countries want $100bn per year of funding by 2020.
A source close to the UK negotiating team said the money announced in Doha was designed to encourage the rest of the world to come forward with climate change aid, especially in Europe.
“Basically we are saying to the French: we have upped our contribution, now up yours.”
A fanatical and self-righteous green religion stalks Britain. Now it wants to evangelise the Third World
Charles Dickens must be turning in his grave. We have a government that tells struggling families here at home to buck up and shell out to build wind farms in the developing world. Here, there are mothers worrying about stretching a very limited budget to cover Christmas lunch, with turkey and trimmings, and presents that don’t all come from PoundLand; but the Coalition doesn’t worry about the hardships under its nose, concentrating instead on those who suffer in distant lands. Dickens would have recognised this instantly as Mrs Jellaby charity – the mother in Bleak House who is obsessed with charitable work for the missions, while her own brood is starving in her kitchen.
How did this tragicomic state of affairs come to pass? The Tories (some of them at least) got not God but Green.
Fanatical, self-righteous, and bent on evangelisation, the green religion stalks the land. Its priests preach apocalyptic visions of a future so bleak that ordinary mortals fear for our lives – even in the face of evidence to the contrary. Now, the green lobby want to spread the word to the Third World. Yes, let there be wind turbines across Africa, and low carbon farming across Colombia! And let it all happen with the British taxpayer footing the bill – to the tune of £2 billion!
You don’t need to be James Delingpole or Nigel Lawson to feel uncomfortable with the rise and rise of the green lobby. Climate change is a huge debate, and no one can afford to be partisan: our children, and our children’s children will suffer if we don’t get this right. But while some cautious experts are taking their time to sift through the evidence (much of it contradictory) the green lobby is imposing its mission on this Coalition. The Lib Dems are true believers, and have been from the outset; but so too are a surprising number of Tories.
The result is Dickensian. George Osborne today as he reads out his Autumn Statement will remind listeners of another of Dickens’s famous creations – Scrooge.
Chancellor confirms UK will chase US shale gas boom
The Chancellor today confirmed the UK will give chase to a US-style shale gas boom by consulting on what tax incentives to give the controversial fuel source and creating its own department, a new Office for Unconventional Gas.
The move will give certainty to developers in the UK including Cuadrilla Resources whose CEO recently suggested they would not wait forever to invest in the UK. However it is sure to be a bitter blow for environmental campaigners opposed to “fracking”.
Announcing the Government’s Gas Strategy in his yearly Autumn Statement today, Mr Osborne suggested shale gas would help British families benefit from low gas prices similar to those experienced in the States.
The Chancellor declared: “We are consulting on new tax incentives for shale gas and announcing the creation of a single Office for Unconventional Gas so that regulation is safe but simple. We don’t want British families and businesses to be left behind as gas prices tumble on the other side of the Atlantic.”
Contrary to demands from up to 300 protestors outside Westminster over the weekend to ditch a dash for gas, the publication of today’s Gas Strategy confirms unabated gas will “continue to play a crucial role in our generation mix for many years to come and the amount of gas we need to call on at times of peak demand will remain high”.
It adds DECC modelling suggests “up to 26 GW of new gas plant could be required by 2030 (in part to replace older coal, gas and nuclear plant as it retires from the system).”
Engineers said the Chancellor’s Statement gave “very welcome clarification” on the role of gas in bridging a “looming” energy gap in the middle of the decade.
Dr Tim Fox, Head of Energy and Environment at Imeche said: “It is sensible for the UK to invest in gas-fired power plants at this point in time as they are cleaner than coal, needed to back-up intermittent renewable energy sources and can be built quicker with much lower up-front costs than nuclear plants.
But he warned the UK must not become “over-reliant” on gas: “The UK’s off-shore gas reserves are dwindling and given that the contribution of shale gas will probably be limited to a few percent of future UK demand, we are unlikely to ever be self-sufficient in gas.”
David Smith, Chief Executive of Energy Networks Association added: “Gas has a vital role to play in a balanced mix, not just for generation but for heating our homes. The UK’s energy future must be affordable and deliver on climate change targets and this means a balanced approach that retains gas for many decades.”
Last month the gas market had a brush with scandal when a whistle-blower at an energy reporting firm alleged prices were being fixed, Libor-style, prompting the Government to begin an investigation into the gas market.
Experts believe global wholesale gas prices are the cause of recent rises in energy bills. The Chancellor’s argument goes that a national shale gas resource would counter external gas price increases.
However environmentalists claim George Osborne is “misleading” the public about the benefits of shale gas.
Greenpeace political director Joss Garman said: “The Chancellor is misleading people to position shale gas as the answer to UK’s energy woes. The impact of fracking in the US is irrelevant because energy experts say the US shale gas boom cannot be replicated here.”
Andy Atkins, Executive director of Friends of the Earth said “The big polluters must think Christmas has come early – but if bad Santa Osborne’s gas-fired energy strategy gets the go-ahead it will leave cash-strapped households and the environment with a thumping hang-over for decades.”
Britain’s Green Energy Investment Collapsing
Fundamental ideological disagreements within the government about renewable energy have turned away droves of potential investors in crucial new green electricity generators, according to damning new research.
Britain needs to attract tens of billions of pounds of private investment in low-carbon energy in the next decade, to ensure the lights stay on while meeting ambitious environmental targets.
But alarming new research shows that investment in essential industrial-scale wind, water, solar, biomass and nuclear power projects has more than halved in the past three years, in the face of government indecision over its green energy policy.
Furthermore, last week’s energy bill failed to provide many would-be investors with the reassurance they need to “pull the trigger” on key renewable energy projects, warns Michael Liebreich, head of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, the researcher behind the report.
Experts blame the ideologically divided coalition for its failure to agree a coherent renewable energy policy and its, sometimes public, disagreements about low-carbon electricity subsidies and whether to introduce firm targets to reduce carbon emissions.
They say the resulting uncertainty has shaken the confidence of potential financiers who need a clear sense of their likely returns along with certainty that the government is in favour of green energy and won’t suddenly change its policy.
Michael Liebreich, head of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said: “Yes, the coalition could have moved faster to eliminate uncertainty, especially in the past two months with the rise of the ‘dash for gas lobby’ and the sudden lurch to the sceptical which is very destabilising.”
Mr Liebreich is referring, in part, to David Cameron’s decision in September to replace pro-renewable energy minister Charles Hendry with John Hayes, a well-known opponent of wind power. Since his appointment, Mr Hayes has continued to voice his opposition to wind power – saying Britain was already “peppered” with onshore windfarms and that “enough is enough” – even though his stance contradicts the strategy of his boss, energy secretary Ed Davey, for whom the technology is key. Meanwhile, George Osborne, is set to announce formally place gas – a non-renewable, fossil fuel – at the centre of Britain’s energy strategy in his autumn statement tomorrow.
“Swapping out Charles Hendry seems pretty extraordinary, to be honest, if they want to attract investment,” said Mr Liebreich, adding that last week’s long-awaited and fiercely-negotiated energy bill was nonetheless a step in the right direction because it “establishes the principle of energy diversity and provides a good framework to achieve this.”
But although most experts agree that last week’s bill represents a progression, many are discouraged by the decision to drop a legally-binding target to make electricity generation almost entirely green by 2030. This was proposed by Mr Davey but later overruled by George Osborne and its removal has left many potential low-carbon investors unconvinced about the government’s commitment to renewable energy – although there is a possibility of an amendment to return it to the bill as it passes through Parliament.
Andrew Raingold, director of Aldersgate, an alliance of 50 major companies including Asda, BT, Marks & Spencer, Microsoft and Philips, is among those who argue that the energy bill doesn’t go far enough. “Delaying key decisions such as the decarbonisation target for 2030 risks damaging the UK’s future economic prospects and leaving the consumers over-exposed to the price and energy security risks of heavy dependence on imported gas,” Mr Raingold said.
Ditlev Engel, chief executive of the world’s biggest wind turbine maker, Vestas, was also critical of the bill, pointing out that its lack of clarity on green energy would also hit companies that supply what could be a burgeoning industry in the UK.
Mr Engel, who closed Vestas wind turbine manufacturing plants in the Isle of Wight and Southampton in 2009 and this summer pulled out of plans to set up a manufacturing plant in Kent, amid the lack of certainty, said last week of the energy bill: “The failure to establish a firm 2030 power sector carbon cap prolongs uncertainty to the supply chain where investment horizons extend well beyond 2020. This is a missed opportunity.”
His comments, in turn, come after a powerful alliance of companies including Siemens, Mitsubishi and Areva, the French nuclear giant, wrote to David Cameron, Mr Osborne and Mr Davey in October warning them that a lack of decision-making and threats to relax key green targets “have caused us to reassess the level of political risk in the UK.”
“We consider that a binding 2030 target for power sector decarbonisation would help reduce the political risk currently associated with long term UK industrial investment,” continued the letter, whose senders employ about 17,500 people in Britain and are planning “significant further development” which, they warned, was “critically dependent on a long-term stable policy framework”.
Although there has been a steady drum beat of warnings about the dangers posed to investment by what has been dubbed Britain’s “energy shambles”, the stark Bloomberg figures are the first to quantify the impact.
They show that investment in industrial-scale wind, solar, water, biomass and other renewable energy generators Such investment tumbled from a peak of $10.65bn (£6.6bn) in 2009, as potential backers felt increasingly confident that they would be eligible for significant subsidies, to $7.81bn in 2010.
The decline continued last year, as investment fell to just $5.0bn last year – less than half of its peak two years earlier – and is set to fall again in 2012 after just $3.63bn of cash was committed in the first nine months of the year, according to Bloomberg.
Nico Tyabji, also of New Energy Finance, said: “Investors have made clear to the UK government that policy uncertainty has undermined investment.”
The highest profile low-carbon energy project that has been put on hold because of uncertainty about government subsidy levels is the proposed £10bn power plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset, which would be the UK’s first nuclear energy provider for more than a quarter of a century. However, the investors, British Gas-owner Centrica and Edf, the French energy giant, will not finally commit to project until they have agreed a minimum price with the government for the electricity it will generate.”
By contrast, investment in small generators by households and small businesses such as farms, jumped to $3.80bn last year from virtually nothing in 2010 as people scrambled to take advantage of generous government subsidies for solar panels. However, investment in these small-scale generators has declined this year after the government suddenly and unexpectedly attempted to reduce solar subsidy levels, in a move that the High Court ruled was illegal and which further rocked the confidence of potential investors. The government has since succeeded in reducing the solar subsidies.
Last week’s bill more than triples of the amount that will be available for a key subsidy to support low-carbon energy generation from £2.35bn next year to nearly £10.0bn by 2021 – much of it to be funded by consumers, who will see about £95 a year added onto the average household bill as a result.
However, although such a substantial sum represents a step in the right direction, critics say that with no indication of how the pot will be allocated to different forms of power generation, and on what terms, investors are still in the dark.
A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said it was “misleading” to blame the figures solely on proposed changes to the nation’s electricity market when the financial crisis has hurt other infrastructure investment, in the UK and overseas. Furthermore, the spokesman insisted that the government’s plans will accelerate investment and attract new low-carbon investment.