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Engineers demand cabinet energy post after reshuffle

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ENGINEERS THIS week expressed disappointment at Prime Minister Tony Blair's failure to put a cabinet minister directly in charge of energy policy during last week's reshuffle.

In the reshuffle trade minister Mike O'Brien moved within the Department of Trade & Industry (DTI) to replace Stephen Timms as minister of state for energy and e-commerce.

Timms moved to the Treasury to become financial secretary.

But ICE energy board chairman David Anderson said more fundamental changes were needed to the DTI's energy portfolio.

'Energy is inextricably linked with climate change and that's the biggest issue for the planet this century, ' said Anderson.

'I think it's a sizeable portfolio of work in its own right and should go back to having full cabinet status. It needs the brightest brains in the cabinet to attend to it.'

Energy has not had a cabinet minister since the 1992 scrapping of the Department of Energy.

Professor Ian Fells, chairman of Energy research body the New & Renewable Energy Centre agreed that energy should be a cabinet post.

Fells, who this week urged UK and European politicians not to sacrifice nuclear power in favour of sole reliance on renewable energy, said: 'It's absurd.

He [O'Brien] is the sixth energy minister we've had in this administration.

'As soon as they get to know what's going on they get moved, ' he added.

Parsons Brinckerhoff director Jack Hill also shared Anderson's view.

'We are importing gas and it's a whole new scenario, ' he said.

'Energy should be a cabinet post, it's that important.'

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