By Ruth McKee
A new front has opened in the battle against the 'big six' energy companies, with environmental charities demanding a full public inquiry into the soaring costs of energy bills.
Dubbed the 'dirty half dozen', the six major energy companies in the UK are accused of abandoning plans for green energies and increasing fossil fuel production, while passing the rising costs of oil and coal straight on to their consumers.
Friends of the Earth are calling for the government to fully investigate the root of the price hike, which has seen thousands of consumers living in fuel poverty across the UK.
"David Cameron must urgently set up a public inquiry into the power of the big six energy companies – ending their stranglehold over the UK’s energy system will be good for consumers and good for the planet," said Andy Atkins, executive director of Friends of the Earth.
The charity is also angry over recent claims that green taxes are to blame for the crippling fuel prices and have argued that it is in fact the escalating price of gas and oil which has sent prices sky high in recent months.
They also slammed the major energy companies for enjoying ever-increasing profits while many consumers struggle to pay bills.
"The big six are tipping the UK’s energy system in favour of expensive gas while neglecting investment in clean energy and slashing energy waste which would give consumers a better deal in the long run," Mr Atkins added.
The calls for a public inquiry come as anger grows over the market control the major energy companies currently enjoy with Meg Hillier, Labour's shadow energy and climate change secretary, calling the cost of fuel "a great national scandal" in her speech to Labour party conference last month.