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Ex-British Gas lobbyist appointed govt energy advisor

New role will advise PM daily on all issues relating to energy and climate change

david cameronThe former public affairs manager at Centrica, parent company to British Gas, has been appointed David Cameron’s personal advisor on energy and climate change, a newly created role designed to speed up the completion of the government’s long-awaited Energy Bill.

In her previous role, Tara Singh had extensive contact with the Tories, and it is this working relationship that is believed to have been a factor in the prime minister bringing her in for the new job, which will involve briefing Mr Cameron daily on all issues relating to energy and climate change.

Speeding things up

It is the latest step taken by the coalition in its bid to speed up the delivery of the Energy Bill, which will lay out the government’s energy policies for the years ahead as it bids to secure the nation’s energy security and ensure that consumers are protected from price hikes and unscrupulous activity in the market.

Ms Singh was head of environment in the Conservative Research Department between 2005 and 2007, working under Oliver Letwin and later Peter Ainsworth, while also advising other senior Tories and being the the party’s liaison with its Quality of Life Group.

She was appointed by Centrica in mid-2009 and spent four years there before working with PR firm Hill & Knowlton on a number of high-profile cases, including representing US defence giant Lockheed Martin, trade association RenewableUK and Norwegian oil company Statoil, which only last week was accused by the European Commission of trying to inflate oil prices.

Conflict of interest?

The appointment of an individual who has represented major oil, gas and defence groups has led some to question the move, particularly as the coalition has reiterated its desire to boost investment in renewables as part of its energy policies.

It is hoped that investment in low-carbon technologies will help to secure the country’s energy security and also ensure that consumers do not bear the brunt of future oil and gas rises through their energy bills – something sceptics say could be jeopardised by somebody with connections to oil and gas suppliers advising the prime minister on a day-to-day basis.

However, one environmental campaigner told the Independent that Ms Singh is “not a climate sceptic by any stretch of the imagination” and allayed fears that her four-year association with British Gas’ parent company would have any bearing on the advice she gives to Mr Cameron.

Back on track

The prime minister will now be hoping to get the Energy Bill back on track, following the departures of a number of key contributors to the document.

Head of strategy Ravi Gurumurthy and head of energy markets Jonathan Brearley both quit, while Ben Moxham, the former advisor to the prime minister on energy and the environment, also left his post.

Though Ms Singh is seen by some as a direct replacement for Mr Moxham, the re-shuffling of the government’s climate change advisory board means that many roles have been newly created while others have been phased out.

The exact details of Ms Singh’s role have not yet been revealed by the government, though she is likely to play a key role in the lead up to 2015’s climate change summit in Paris, when 200 global leaders will attempt to form an agreement to cut their carbon emissions significantly.

In the meantime, Ms Singh will be helping the prime minister to shape the long-awaited Energy Bill, which promises to bring about wide-ranging legislation changes that will impact consumers across the nation.

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