David Hunt, director of renewable energy company, Eco Environments, has accused ministers of “fiddling while the solar industry burns” after new figures emerged showing the lavish away days organised by the energy department at taxpayers’ expense.

Hunt commented, “It is staggering to hear how energy secretary, Chris Huhne (who quit the cabinet today over a speeding points charge), and his department are happy to blow £72,000 on away days at a time when the solar industry is in crisis because of his department’s policies. One meeting was even to plan for another away day!

“It is simply the latest example of the breathtaking arrogance shown by Mr Huhne and his ministers who seem to be oblivious not only to the opinions of the renewable energy industry but also to those of the wider general public who are struggling to make ends meet.

“How can the Department of Energy and Climate Change justify this level of expenditure at a time when the nation is being told to tighten its belts and businesses are facing a daily fight for survival.

“We also know that the 42 so-called ‘performance improving’ and ‘skill enhancing days’ funded by the taxpayer were a complete waste of time given that the department’s performance has, if anything, gone backwards and the solar industry has certainly never seen any evidence of skill! That is unless acting illegally, losing legal cases and racking up £66,000 of legal bills demonstrates skill.”