Aug 28 2008
Hard-pressed consumers facing higher gas and electricity bills have been warned that the era of cheap energy is over.
Business Secretary John Hutton said there was "genuine concern" about the difficulties for families faced with soaring heating bills this winter, adding that the Government was looking at what extra support it could provide.
But he warned against creating a climate that would make it harder for the UK to attract new investment for nuclear power, renewables and clean coal technology.
His comments, in an interview with the Daily Telegraph, come as Prime Minister Gordon Brown faces growing demands to impose a windfall tax on the energy firms.
More than 70 Labour MPs have signed a petition urging the Premier to claw back some of the huge profits made by the companies.
Mr Hutton said the UK needed more than £100 billion of investment over the next decade and the "right framework" had to be created to encourage that investment.
And he stressed that energy security was "fundamental to our existence as an independent, democratic, free state."
In comments which may be interpreted as a rebuke to calls for a windfall tax he said: "What we shouldn't do is create a climate that makes it harder to attract new investment.
"The new nuclear investment, the new renewables investment, the new investment in clean coal and gas.
"We need £100 billion plus in the next 10 years, so we've got to create the right framework that encourages investment. We must not lose sight of that."