LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister David Cameron has named Amber Rudd, one of the lesser known names from his party, as energy minister to tackle such controversial issues as government support for onshore wind farms and shale gas.
Rudd, a former investment banker who previously served as parliamentary under-secretary in the Department of Energy and Climate Change for less than one year, replaces Ed Davey, a member of the Liberal Democrat Party who lost his parliamentary seat last week.
The energy industry had been keenly awaiting the outcome of last week’s election as all parties had proposed to enact changes around the way the big utility companies are run.
It will now be watching whether Rudd will push ahead with Conservative Party pledges to cut subsidies for onshore wind farms and to boost the development of shale gas.
Britain is estimated to have substantial amounts of shale gas trapped in underground rocks and the national government has been supportive of developing these reserves. However, progress has been slow because of local opposition to hydraulic fracturing - or fracking - due to environmental concerns.
Rudd said last week the Conservative government would continue with a plan to support creating renewable energy jobs and to protect the environment but that it would do so by reducing the costs of green energy and helping innovation.
Rudd’s appointment also comes ahead of key U.N. climate change talks in Paris later this year where world leaders will seek to sign a deal to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
Shares in British utilities Centrica and SSE reacted positively to the Conservatives’ election victory on Friday as it meant avoiding the prospect of tougher regulation that had been proposed by the Labour Party.
Reporting By Karolin Schaps and Costas Pitas; editing by Stephen Addison