Wind farms are not the answer to solving the climate change problem, Owen Paterson, the new Environment Secretary, has suggested.
In his first interview in the job, Mr Paterson has admitted being “sceptical” about climate change policies, such as wind farms that need large subsidies.
The Conservative right-winger, who took over the role last week, acknowledged global warming exists but stopped short of saying it is an entirely man-made problem.
His comments are likely to alarm green groups as part of his new department’s official role is to help prepare Britain for climate change.
“It is perfectly obvious climate change is there, and there is a human contribution, but I want to be sure the measures we are taking to ameliorate the problem don’t create other problems,” he told the
Farmers’ Guardian. “So that’s why I am sceptical.”
Mr Paterson is a well-known opponent of wind farms in his own constituency.
He said the plans had been “incredibly unpopular and we proved they were not going to be viable”.
He has also reportedly called on fellow cabinet ministers to back a plan to drill for more shale gas and phase out hefty subsidies for renewable energy.
In a recent speech, Mr Paterson praised Britain’s shale gas reserves as “one unexpected and potentially huge windfall.”
In the new interview, Mr Paterson said he has been instructed by the Prime Minister to make “reviving rural businesses” his single overarching objective.
He said he wanted to make sure staff who understand he countryside in his Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
“When I was in opposition, we always had very well-meaning, well intentioned Ministers at Defra who were completely urban and completely clueless. That’s not going to happen with me. And I eat meat.”
He is also a strong supporter of the badger cull due to happen this autumn to help combat bovine tuberculosis.
“I come at this from a practical countryman’s point of view,” he told the Farmers’ Guardian. “Nobody likes killing any animals, but we want healthy cattle living alongside healthy badgers.
“I very much hope we can get going soon. The quicker we can get on top of this disease, the better for dairy farmers, the rural economy and wildlife.
“I am convinced it is the right thing to do until we get a vaccine. We cannot allow this pool of disease to keep on growing, and I find the attitude of those who want these wonderful animals to die of this disgusting disease completely incomprehensible.”
The MP for North Shropshire is also pro-foxhunting. His promotion was welcomed by campaign groups who hope that the Prime Minister will allow a free vote on the issue in the future.
In May, Mr Paterson became the most senior government minister to declare his opposition to Mr Cameron’s plan to legalise gay marriage.
The former Northern Ireland Secretary said he supported the government’s commitment to allow civil partnership ceremonies for same sex-couples to be held in churches.
But he warned that after “careful” consideration, he would not be able to support extending full civil marriage rights to homosexual couples.