Asda has criticised local councils for pursuing worthless green initiatives in a bid to appear eco-friendly at the expense of ideas that could have a real impact.

Bob Simpson, the head of sustainable development at Asda, said planners were too keen on visible signs of sustainability, such as small wind turbines and solar panels, which often do not deliver real environmental payback.

Speaking at retail property organisation BCSC's Shopping Centre Management Conference, he said Asda preferred initiatives that had real impact reducing both carbon emissions and operational costs. "Solar panels and small wind turbines just don't produce enough power, but planners like them so sometimes you have to include them," he said. "I don't think it is the planners' fault. The lack of guidance from central government is causing uncertainty, which makes it easier for them to opt for the very obvious sustainability technologies rather than taking a broader view and ensuring that developers

actually put in place tech­nology that will bring a significant reduction in carbon emissions."

He also called for incentives for companies that are already hitting targets.

Asda, which has so far spent £22m on reducing the carbon footprint of its 260 stores, favours initiatives such as glass doors on chiller cabinets, increased use of natural light and ventilation and lighting controls.

It is not the first time that Asda has been outspoken about misplaced green initiatives. Last year chief executive Andy Bond criticised the 'grandstanding and chest beating' of rivals over eco-promises.