The Guardian reports that Shell has pulled out of the huge London Array offshore windfarm project.
Shell was accused last night of being greedy and irresponsible as it came under ferocious attack from politicians and environmentalists for its decision to drop a commitment to the biggest offshore wind farm in the world.
Although the environment minister Hilary Benn called the decision to withdraw from the London Array scheme off the Kent coast "very disappointing", the government was also under attack from opponents who saw the move as a body-blow to UK renewable energy policies. They called for more incentives to encourage wind developments.
Caroline Lucas, Green MEP for the south-east of England, said ministers should urgently reform their approach to clean power schemes and add so-called feed-in tariffs to its energy bill to encourage homeowners to join the fight against climate change. Under the tariffs, those generating electricity from renewable sources would be paid generously for any surplus power they feed to the grid. She said Shell was a company motivated "purely by greed".
"I cannot condemn Shell strongly enough for this shameful retreat from the London Array wind farm project. It appears that as the last key negotiations over equipment contracts took place, the company lost its nerve and decided to shun its responsibilities in the generation of green energy," Lucas said. "The loss of one of the three investors in the London Array wind farm is a serious setback for the future of renewable energy in this country, at a time when the UK is already struggling to meet its EU targets for renewables. "Mere days after reporting first-quarter profits of £4bn, Shell has shown its true colours in what can only be described as a PR disaster for the company, and further proof that its media-friendly 'greenspeak' is both dishonest and irresponsible."
Steve Webb, Liberal Democrat environment spokesman, believed Shell's decision "blows a huge hole" in the government's rhetoric about renewable energy.
Britain was already near the bottom of the European league table on green energy, and now a major investor had decided that other countries offered a better environment for wind power, he said. "If we are to meet our internationally agreed goals on renewable energy, the government needs a radical rethink ... Only yesterday the Brown government faced its biggest ever rebellion over its refusal to back new incentives for small-scale renewable generators. Now a flagship wind farm has been undermined by the withdrawal of a major international investor."