Energy Secretary Chris Huhne has come under fire from anti-wind farm protesters in the North East after launching another attack on opponents of renewable energy.
Mr Huhne made the headlines last month when he said he thought turbines were “elegant” and “beautiful” and said those opposed to them needed to change their views. Yesterday he renewed his attack, speaking at an annual conference of the renewables industry.
He said: “At a time when closures and cuts dominate the news cycle, next-generation industries are providing jobs and sinking capital into Britain.
“I want to take aim at the curmudgeons and faultfinders who hold forth on the impossibility of renewables. The climate sceptics and armchair engineers who are selling Britain’s ingenuity short.
“Yes, climate change is a manmade disaster.
“Yes, the UK is only 2% of global carbon emissions. But if we grasp the opportunity now our businesses and economy can be much more than 2% of the solution.”
But last night Don Brownlow, of the now defunct Moorsyde action group, said it was time the energy secretary took a more measured approach. Moorsyde’s army of “armchair engineers” successfully defeated plans to build 14 wind turbines in Northumberland, thrown out both by the county council’s planning committee and again on appeal.
Mr Brownlow said: “I’m not very surprised by this.
“We don’t expect much from this man in Northumberland really. He has always put himself on the side of wind turbines, regardless of the individual circumstances.
“You would think that in a coalition Government maybe you have to take a more balanced approach, but no, we never see this.
“He can add to his attack on armchair engineers the last Government’s chief scientific adviser and many other distinguished names who see it is not as open and shut as he would like, and that many people quite rightly see these turbines as an expensive folly. I think it is time Mr Huhne perhaps looked at using slightly more moderate language.”
This week The Journal revealed the Government had turned down a £5m plea to provide up-front cash to entice in major turbine manufacturers to Tyneside.
Despite that snub, Mr Huhne did find time to praise the North East renewable energy sector.
He told the conference that this year “developers have announced plans in the North East for £50m investment, with the potential to create over 1,413 jobs, as the region begins to realise its huge economic potential and produce clean, home grown energy”.
After Mr Huhne’s comments on wind turbines, an online poll held on The Journal’s website saw 106 people agree with the Energy Secretary but 834 describe them as a blot on the landscape.