JACK McConnell yesterday branded the SNP "sham environmentalists," stressing that the Nationalists' economic policies would only serve to harm Scotland's environmental wellbeing.

Speaking in Glasgow, Mr McConnell spelled out Labour's "hugely ambitious" green agenda and reiterated his government's record as "environmental leaders" over the past five years. His views were echoed by David Miliband, UK Environment Minister, who praised Scottish Labour's green record and raised similar doubts over the SNP's environmental pledges.

Mr McConnell said: "The SNP are sham environmentalists. They talk green but, locally and nationally, they act against environmental interests."

He stressed that under a Nationalist government, ordinary families would face higher energy bills. He said: "Their plan to take Scotland out of the UK would separate Scotland from the British energy market and the economies of scale that pay for grid infrastructure - making their protestations on renewable energy so much hot air."

"Labour has offered environmental leadership and a high level of ambition, not pie-in-the-sky promises that would lead to higher taxes. Our targets are ambitious by any standards - but we know they are achievable."

Mr McConnell again emphasised it would be "irresponsible" to categorically promise against the renewal of Scotland's nuclear power stations, given their importance to the nation's energy supply.

Mr McConnell's environmental credence was boosted by Mr Miliband, who revealed that upon their first meeting in the mid-1990s, Mr McConnell gave him the impression of a "green" politician, "before it was fashionable." He later added: "Or at least, red-green."

He too derided the SNP's apparent contradiction in policies. He said: "While every other country around the world is trying to reduce its addiction to oil, the SNP is addicted to it."

Meanwhile, Mr Miliband stated his unequivocal support for Gordon Brown's leadership of the Labour Party in a bid to stop speculation about his own leadership ambitions. He said: "I will be voting for Gordon Brown as Labour leader. He's the best-qualified."