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Yeo under pressure to quit climate post

Tim Yeo faced growing pressure to quit as chairman of the environment and climate change committee after it emerged the Tory MP reaped nearly £140,000 a year from green companies.

The former environment minister is facing a threat from colleagues to depose him from the chairmanship due to his outside interests.

Activists and MPs have said that he should be forced to choose between his leadership of the powerful select committee and his other jobs.

Mr Yeo sparked controversy over his cheerleading for the renewable energy industry, and has called for communities to be ‘bribed’ to accept windfarms.

He has also attacked the Government for cutting subsidies to the green energy industry. But he also pledged his support to anti-windfarm campaigners in his South Suffolk constituency in 2007.

Angela Kelly, of the anti-windfarm group Country Guardian, said Mr Yeo should ‘do the honorable thing’ and stand aside as there should be no appearance of a conflict of interest.

She said: ‘It is not tenable for the chairman of a select committee to draw income from the very industry he is seeking to hold to account.

‘Tim Yeo has backed the drive for more wind turbines, even suggesting residents should be ‘bribed’ to accept them in their backyards. Yet he has pledged his support to opponents of windfarms in his own backyard, knowing he risks losing his seat.’

Arthur Stuttard, who runs the pressure group group Shaft (Stop the Higham and Fence Turbines) said: ‘His outside interests make it very difficult for him to be seen as being independent.’

Critics are concerned Mr Yeo – who has published a pamphlet championing the benefits of ecofriendly energy called Green Gold – draws income from three environmentally friendly firms.

He lists just over £139,450 in payments linked to green companies in the last MPs’ register of interests. The earnings come on top of his £65,000 MPs’ salary plus a top-up of nearly £15,000 for being chairman of a powerful select committee.

Mr Yeo is not breaking parliamentary rules with his outside earnings although a report from Parliament’s standards watchdog says ‘in some cases of conflict or the appearance of a conflict, this may mean that a chairman must either divest himself or herself of an interest, or stand aside’.

Insiders have told the Mail they are investigating overthrowing him if he does not stand down.

In 2007, he told constituents: ‘I fully understand why anybody in a community as beautiful as this will be concerned. Onshore wind turbines are visually a very considerable intrusion.’

Last year, he was named Politician of the Year at the inaugural Business Green Leaders Awards.

Mr Yeo could not be reached for comment last night.

However on Monday he said all his interests had been listed in full on the ballot paper circulated to all MPs when he was elected committee chairman.