Lancashire County Council's Labour group leader has condemned Prime Minister Rishi Sunak for "backtracking" on climate change pledges.

Nelson East's Cll Azhar Ali accused Sunak's speech on the issue earlier this week of pandering to his more hard-line backbenchers.

In his speech Mr Sunak proposed a five-year delay in the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030 to 2035, and an exemption to phase out fossil fuel boilers by 2035 instead of 2026, and the scrapping of policies that would force landlords to upgrade energy efficiency in their properties.

He said other things that would be halted included taxes on meat and that 'discourage flying or going on holiday' - neither of which exist - as well as a ban on new oil and gas production in the North Sea.

Cllr Ali said: “The Prime Minister is saying he is not watering down his pledge on climate change but quite clearly, he is playing to the climate change deniers in his own party.

"Back in June of this year, the government’s own climate change committee criticised the Prime Minister and the cabinet pointing out that they would not meet the climate change targets it had set out for 2030.

"This announcement from the Prime Minister will set this back even further.

"It is disappointing he has backtracked on the commitment to install heat pumps and reduce reliance on current gas resources

“This short-sighted announcement is also bad for the economy and anti-business.

"Many of the car manufacturers who were investing in electric vehicles will now have to draw up revised business plans.

"The PM has said this move is to help households who are struggling with a cost-of-living crisis.

"But I would ask who is to blame for this cost-of-living crisis?

"He and his Tory Government are to blame, they crashed the economy.

"He and his government are clutching at straws to hang onto power."