UK Chancellor ‘Driving The Anti-Wind Backlash’

  • Date: 15/11/12
  • Jason Groves, Daily Mail

George Osborne is leading a concerted push to dismantle the Government’s commitment to wind farms and other forms of green energy, his father-in-law has revealed.

Lord Howell, a former Foreign Office minister, was filmed in an undercover sting by environmental group Greenpeace claiming that the Chancellor is ‘putting pressure’ on David Cameron who ‘does not understand the issue’.

Environmental campaigners have been alarmed by an apparent hardening of Government policy, with Energy Minister John Hayes and Environment Secretary Owen Paterson among the anti-wind farm figures appointed in September’s reshuffle.

In an embarrassing revelation, Lord Howell, whose daughter Frances is married to Mr Osborne, said the Chancellor was the driving force behind the approach.

He told undercover activists posing as gas industry executives: ‘The Prime Minister is not familiar with these issues, does not understand them. Osborne is, of course, getting this message and is putting pressure on.’

Former Tory Cabinet minister Peter Lilley was also filmed explaining the Chancellor’s central role.

Explaining the recent reshuffle, Mr Lilley, a member of the Commons climate change committee, said: ‘I think Osborne wanted to get people into key positions who could begin to get the Government off the hook from the commitments it made very foolishly – the “greenest government ever”.’

In a statement last night, a Treasury spokesman denied Mr Osborne was plotting to dismantle the Government’s energy policy. ‘The Chancellor supports Government policy which has helped secure record investment into the UK energy infrastructure,’ a spokesman said.

But the revelations will confirm suspicions among some environmental campaigners that the Chancellor is pushing for the Tories, who fought the last election on the message ‘Vote blue, go green’, to adopt a more sceptical approach to costly renewables such as wind power.

Mr Osborne signalled a shift at the Tory conference last year when he said: ‘We are not going to save the planet by putting our country out of business.’ Senior Tories were also filmed by Greenpeace making disparaging comments about the Tory Climate Change Minister Greg Barker, who some critics claim has ‘gone native’ in his support for green energy.

Mr Lilley said of Mr Barker: ‘He’s barking! He’s a complete nutter.’ Fellow Tory MP Chris Heaton- Harris said Mr Barker was ‘away with the fairies’.

Mr Barker would only say that the remarks ‘go with the territory’.

Mr Hayes enraged his Liberal Democrat boss Ed Davey with an interview this week in which he said we have already reached our targets on onshore wind farms.

Daily Mail, 15 November 2012