Energy and Climate Change

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:17 pm on 20th December 2011.

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Photo of Chris Heaton-Harris Chris Heaton-Harris Conservative, Daventry 4:17 pm, 20th December 2011

I absolutely concur. I know from my mailbag and from the number of e-mails I receive everyday on the matter that people are turning against renewables of just about every type because wind turbines are, among other things, so badly sold. Onshore wind generation requires a 100% back-up of carbon-burning technology or nuclear energy, should the wind not blow, and in addition to the devastation of the visual environment there are the problems of noise and flicker. They are the wrong renewables choice.

That brings me to some unbelievably bad news I received yesterday about my constituency. There was—how can I put it?—a disgraceful, vulgar, disrespectful, terrible, shameful, contemptible, detestable, dishonourable, disreputable, ignoble, mean, offensive, scandalous, shabby, shady, shocking, shoddy, unworthy, deplorable, awful, calamitous, dire, disastrous, distressing, dreadful, faulty, grim, horrifying, lamentable, lousy, mournful, pitiable, regrettable, reprehensible, rotten, sad, sickening, tragic, woeful, wretched, abhorrent, abominable, crass, despicable, inferior, odious, unworthy, atrocious, heinous, loathsome, revolting, scandalous, squalid, tawdry, cowardly, opprobrious, insulting, malevolent, scurrilous and basically stinkingly poor decision of the Planning Inspectorate to approve the Kelmarsh wind farm, which will devastate huge swathes of beautiful rural Northamptonshire. It used an old-fashioned east midlands regional plan, which I thought we had abolished in the Localism Act 2011, did not take into account any emerging policy in this area, not least the national planning policy framework, and used the targets, which the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion is so passionately attached to, of getting 20% of our energy from renewables by 2020.

It is unbelievable that one planning inspector can overrule all elements of democracy, local and national, including parish and district council opinion, MPs, Lords and Members of the European Parliament, and say, “Well, actually, because of these particularly poor policies we have, forget democracy. This is what you are having.” That is what upsets people about the onshore wind industry. The sooner that can change, the better.

Significant damage will be done to the local environment, and even more will be done to what my constituents might think comes with the Localism Act. If I were a Secretary of State in the Department for Energy and Climate Change and was driving down the A14, I really would put my foot down. A three-point penalty easily outweighs what I and my constituents think of him, this decision and the policy it is based on. That said, even I wish the Secretary of State and everyone else in the House a very merry Christmas.