THE Government’s “energy policy crisis” is putting at risk a massive opportunity for the North-East to lead a renewable energy revolution, Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls warned today (Monday, April 29).

The Labour heavyweight said it was “really frustrating” that more of the long-promised green jobs were not appearing in the region and blamed ministers for having “no idea what the plan is”.

Speaking at Port of Tyne, Mr Balls said: “If we’re not careful, we’re going to look back and say the UK and the North-East missed a massive opportunity.

“I’m talking all the time to the big renewable manufacturers and they’re all saying: the Government’s energy policy is in crisis.

“Are they in favour of renewables? Are they going to gamble it all on shale gas? Are they going to have nuclear?

“Investment is on hold. It’s a disaster for the North-East and the country.”

The former Labour leadership hopeful was in South Shields ahead of Thursday’s parliamentary by-election to replace former Foreign Secretary David Miliband, who recently quit UK politics.

Meeting four young Port of Tyne apprentices, the former Education Secretary said there was no doubt the North-East was being hit disproportionately hard by Government austerity cuts and rising long-term youth unemployment risked scarring a whole generation.

Labour would keep a “bankers bonus” tax and axe what he called the Government’s “millionaires’ tax cut” to pay for guaranteeing a job for every young person out of work for more than a year, he said.

These would pay minimum wage and most, if not all, would be in the private sector but a Labour Government would provide financial support, he continued.

Speaking to The Northern Echo, which is campaigning for more apprenticeships through the Foundation for Jobs, Mr Balls said more apprenticeships were needed and private sector investment was dependent on the public sector doing its bid on education, transport and apprenticeships.

The Government says it will ensure a continuous supply of energy for the UK through international relations and supporting the energy industry, while reducing the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 per cent by 2050 by supporting new nuclear power stations, carbon capture and green energy technology.