Prime minister Rishi Sunak's "bizarre" U-turn on the country's green targets has been slammed by critics including big business and the church. 

But local MPs including Mid Norfolk's George Freeman and North Norfolk's Duncan Baker have waded in to defend the move, claiming it will save people money. 

Mr Sunak has pushed back the ban on the sale of new diesel cars, watered down the phase-out of gas boilers by 2035 and scrapped the need for homes to make energy efficiency upgrades.

 

Fakenham & Wells Times: George Freeman, Conservative MP for Mid NorfolkGeorge Freeman, Conservative MP for Mid Norfolk (Image: Richard Townshend Photography)

 Mr Freeman said the rowback was the "right decision".

He said: "We won’t achieve a clean economy by relying only on banning things that hard-pressed households and small businesses rely on, in a way that makes people poorer.

“If high energy costs simply bankrupt local rural pubs and businesses, accelerating the decline of rural small town high streets, we will not help the transition to a cleaner, healthier or more sustainable economy.”

Mr Baker said Mr Sunak had: "applied a large dose of common sense". 

He said: "I firmly believe that as technological innovation advances and with public consent and responsibility, we will continue to lead the world in decarbonisation."

Fakenham & Wells Times: Prime Minister Rishi Sunak delivers a speech on the plans for net-zero commitments Prime Minister Rishi Sunak delivers a speech on the plans for net-zero commitments (Image: Justin Tallis/PA)

But the move has sparked widespread criticism including from Lisa Brankin, the chairman of Ford UK, and the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham Usher.

The public messaging around the announcement has also been slammed - including the government claiming it was "stopping" a raft of measures that were never policy in the first place, including taxing meat and forcing everyone to have seven rubbish bins. 

Councillor Harry Clarke, Breckland Council's Labour leader, called Mr Sunak's reversal: "Hastily stuck together, contradictory, and bizarre in which he invented proposals that aren't government policy like the seven rubbish bins.

Fakenham & Wells Times: Harry Clarke, the Labour leader at Breckland councilHarry Clarke, the Labour leader at Breckland council (Image: Newsquest)

“You saw the reaction where he has been condemned for retreating by many of his own MPs and others, the car industry and businesses.

"It felt made up on the hoof, and will affect our future growth, good jobs, investment and our credibility.”

Fakenham & Wells Times: North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker (Image: Stuart Anderson)

Jerome Mayhew was also contacted for comment.