Campaigners have condemned the mayor of London’s new environment strategy for falling short by failing to announce the establishment of a publicly owned energy company for Londoners, one of his manifesto promises.
Sadiq Khan published his environment policy on Friday, which aims to turn the capital into a zero waste and zero emissions city by 2050 and ensure that more than half of the city is covered in parks and green spaces in the same time frame.
But the Green party and other campaigners have accused Khan of failing to carry out his pledge to create a not-for-profit energy company for the city, instead putting it out to tender.
Caroline Russell, a Green party member of the London Assembly, said the failure to include the aim in his environmental strategy was a blow for Londoners.
“Despite the mayor telling me it was ‘the idea’ for Energy for Londoners to be fully licensed, this doesn’t seem to be the case,” she said.
“A publicly-owned Energy for Londoners was a brilliant opportunity to make a real difference to Londoners, providing residents, schools, hospitals and businesses with affordable, low-carbon energy.
“It would also provide a massive opportunity to reinvest profits from the sales revenues in generating more renewable energy and addressing fuel poverty with energy efficiency measures.
“The mayor told me he would release details of his feasibility report that led to this choice and I will be holding him to his promise so this decision can be properly scrutinised.”
Khan’s environmental strategy promises to turn London into a global leader on the environment.
He outlines how he aims to cut air pollution, reduce waste, end reliance on fossil fuels and create a greener, cleaner city by 2050.
Many of the measures in the plan – which is out to public consultation for three months – have already been announced, including the phasing out of diesel vehicles via measures including the creation of an ultra-low emission charging zone in central London by 2019, which will be extended to outer London by 2021.
Khan promises to plant more trees, reduce plastic packaging waste, improve recycling and bring London’s air quality into legal limits.
But his manifesto promise on creating a publicly owned energy company for Londoners is not part of the plan. Instead the strategy says he will tender for the delivery of an energy supply company, aiming to offer fairer energy bills to Londoners and encourage Londoners to switch and move away from pre-payment meters. This, campaigners say, is a far cry from the publicly owned energy company which was promised.
Laura Hill of campaign group Switched On London criticised the strategy as a whitewash.
“For all the bold words, Sadiq is dithering on the single boldest step he could take in the fight against fuel poverty, missing his best opportunity to cut bills for hard-up London households,” she said.
“London doesn’t need yet another branding exercise, we need our own public company, controlled democratically by and for Londoners. Sadiq says London can lead on climate; this announcement shows there is no intent to be a clean energy leader – or even a peer – with other European cities.”
Last year Khan told the assembly he was pursuing the idea of a publicly owned company but indicated the work was lengthy.
“I committed to a not-for-profit energy company in my manifesto and my officers are taking this forward as part of the early work of Energy for Londoners. It is potentially a significant undertaking and so rigorous feasibility and business modelling will be carried out to determine the most appropriate structure and functions of the company in order to achieve the overarching objectives of reducing carbon dioxide emissions and alleviating fuel poverty in London.”
The aim was to model the company on similar firms set up in Bristol and Nottingham, where the city council set up the not-for-profit company Robin Hood energy.