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Queen's Speech sets out green economy bill

The government today formally launched its promised energy security and green economy bill as part of the Queen's Speech.

The government today formally launched its promised energy security and green economy bill as part of the Queen's Speech, detailing plans for several new regulations and incentive schemes designed to accelerate the development of the low-carbon economy.

Speaking at the ceremonial opening of the new parliament, the Queen confirmed that her government would introduce legislation "to improve energy efficiency in homes and businesses, to promote low carbon energy production and to secure energy supplies".

The new bill will codify many of the environmental proposals that featured in the recently released coalition agreement.

High-profile plans for a "green deal" scheme that will provide households with low-interest loans to pay for energy efficiency and low-carbon improvements are likely to dominate the headlines. The loan will be attached to the property rather than the individual, ensuring that it will be paid back over a long period that will allow the energy bill savings to easily outstrip the monthly repayments.

However, the bill is also expected to set out rules governing proposed power station emissions standards, which are intended to effectively ban the construction of new coal-fired power stations that do not feature some form of carbon capture technology, and lay the legislative foundations for the planned low-carbon infrastructure bank.

In addition, the Queen's Speech confirmed the coalition government's intention to move ahead with plans for a new high-speed rail link and reiterated its commitment to working with other countries to tackle climate change, particularly at the UN summit in Mexico later this year.

However, the speech was largely overshadowed by the government's commitment to cut the deficit and featured a number of proposals that could pose a threat to green business support services, including plans for a Public Bodies Reform bill that would slash the number of Quangos as part of an effort to cut government spending by £1bn.

The proposed Decentralisation and Localism bill may also raise concerns among some renewable energy developers after the Queen confirmed that the government would aim to give local communities "control over legislation and planning decisions" - a move that could make it harder for large-scale renewable energy projects to gain planning permission.

Newly-appointed Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne hailed the speech as further evidence that "energy security and taking real action to tackle climate change aren't add on extras for this new Government, but are vital to our national interest".

"The Energy Bill is designed to help consumers put a stop to wasting energy in their homes through a green deal while making sure our energy system is fit for the 21st century," he added.

However, speaking following the Queen's Speech Green MP and party leader Caroline Lucas said the government's agenda looked "pretty half-hearted" on environmental issues.

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