North East Labour politicians have slammed the Prime Minister's 'U-turns' on net zero measures, branding them as a "betrayal" to the region.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced the government's "new approach" in a press conference at Downing Street this afternoon (September 20).

The Conservative leader announced a slew of rollbacks - but denies he is "watering down" targets as the UK aims to be net zero by 2050.

Read more: Mayor, MP and Chamber resposnd to PM's new strategy

The Northern Echo: Rishi Sunak.Rishi Sunak. (Image: Justin Tallis)

Amongst the changes is the sale of new diesel and petrol cars, formerly to be scrapped by 2030, being pushed back to 2035.

The Prime Minister also announced he would be scrapping any prospect of taxes on meat, taxes on flying and car sharing.

In his speech, Mr Sunak insisted the UK was already ahead of allies in reducing emissions and could not impose “unacceptable costs” on British families.

“The risk here to those of us who care about reaching net zero, as I do, is simple - if we continue down this path we risk losing the consent of the British people,” he said.

“And the resulting backlash would not just be against specific policies but against the wider mission itself meaning we might never achieve our goal.

“That’s why we have to do things differently.”

The speech may have implications for the Net Zero Teesside Power project, which aims to make Teesside the first decarbonized industrial cluster.

The region aims to become a leader in carbon capture and the hydrogen economy and further projects are awaiting funding from the government.

Ahead of the speech, Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham called out the reforms, branding them as a "betrayal" to the people of Teesside.

He said: "Whether it’s creating jobs here on Teesside, strengthening the UK’s energy network, or tackling the global climate crisis, the transition to net zero is the right thing to do.

"Any backtracking on these pledges by the Prime Minister ­– especially when it solely to placate the hard right of his Conservative Party – is a betrayal of Teesside communities, industry, and our environment.

"Uncertainty is the killer of investment and the killer of job creation and our area needs both when it comes to net zero. If the Prime Minister is too weak to provide that certainty then he should make way for a Labour Government that will.”

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Labour’s candidate for Mayor of the North East, Kim McGuinness, said the Government is "playing politics" with North East jobs.

She said: "The North East is the home of the electric vehicle industry in the UK, these green jobs are a powerful part of our regional economy.

"Yet Tory ministers in London are actively preparing to damage the jobs prospects for Nissan and its supply chain and the many North East people working in the electric vehicle industry.

"This Government U-turn brings the risk of slower growth and makes it much much harder for firms to plan and invest. I’m fighting for a better North East that leads the way in the green economy. It’s time Government matched our ambition."