Osborne plans gas boost
George Osborne is set to approve the building of up to 30 gas-fired power stations to boost private sector infrastructure investment.
The focus on gas will be backed by possible tax breaks and a new regulatory regime for shale gas exploration. The move is expected to be opposed by environmentalists who have called for more emphasis on greener power.
The power plants will be announced as part of tomorrow's Autumn statement and will be funded by a relaunched Private Finance Initiative scheme that will see the infrastructure built by the private sector.
The Financial Times reports that the new gas strategy will say that "in 2030, we could need more overall gas capacity than we have today".
The news comes as 200 countries gather in Doha, Qatar, for the latest round of United Nations talks on climate change.
Former Foreign Office climate change adviser John Ashton expressed concern over the plans. He told the Today programme that the focus on gas could undermine Energy Secretary Ed Davey's attempts at Doha to push for a global deal on climate change.
"I wouldn't say that we're sending Ed Davey naked into the conference chamber but he certainly has a few loose buttons on his shirt," he said.
"He's had a success with the Energy Bill in laying a foundation for more investment in renewable energy in this country. But if at the same time we hear in the Autumn Statement tomorrow that the door is open to dozens of new gas-fired power stations which are going to be there for decades if they're built, then that sends a very mixed signal and people around the world will say 'well actually, are they serious about doing what they're asking us to do?'."
Meanwhile, new research by think-tank Econometrics suggests a focus on wind power could leave the UK economy £20bn-a-year better off.