Top Whitehall mandarin called in after ‘series of blazing rows’ between Cabinet members over wind farms
Whitehall’s top mandarin has been forced to step in to defuse an extraordinary Cabinet feud over wind farms, it was claimed last night.
Liberal Democrat sources say that Sir Jeremy Heywood was called in after a series of blazing rows between Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey and Tory Environment Secretary Owen Paterson over Mr Davey’s controversial ‘green’ technology.
Sources close to the Lib Dem Minister accused Mr Paterson of ‘lying’ over claims that Mr Davey had blocked publication of a report showing that on-shore wind farms can harm rural areas.
Last night, Mr Paterson’s office angrily denied that allegation and insisted that Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy had never been called in to keep the peace between the pair.
But Lib Dem sources accuse Mr Paterson of repeatedly ‘parking his tanks on our lawn’ by interfering in Mr Davey’s ‘green energy’ agenda.
They say Mr Paterson and other Tory ‘climate-change deniers’ are jeopardising billions of pounds’ worth of private investment for renewable energy by casting doubt on the need for on-shore turbines.
Mr Davey was apparently so outraged that he took the unusual step of calling on Sir Jeremy to resolve the turf war and to remind Mr Paterson that climate policy was his remit.
A source said: ‘Ed called in the Cabinet Office to get Paterson off his back and sort who was in charge of what.
‘Paterson was told that despite his environmental brief, tackling global warming was specifically our bag and not his.’
However, the conflict escalated last month over claims that Mr Davey was suppressing an official report on the potential damage to the countryside from huge wind farms.
Mr Paterson, who has previously said turbines are often regarded as a ‘complete scam’, was believed to be livid at the move and ‘determined’ to publish the report regardless.
Sources in the Environment Secretary’s department also accused their Liberal Democrat colleague of being more concerned about ideology than hard scientific evidence.
Last night, Mr Davey’s department rejected that claim, and insisted he had not even seen the wind farm report, which has still not been finished.
Lib Dems blamed Mr Paterson for the ‘completely wrong’ allegations over the energy dossier. One said: ‘It’s pretty clear they were Owen’s views, whether they came directly or indirectly from him. It’s all part of an anti-wind farm crusade.’
In a speech to his party’s conference last week, Mr Davey ridiculed Mr Paterson – who is overseeing the controversial badger-culling programme – as he boasted that Lib Dems had seen off Tory plans to row back on environmental measures.
He said: ‘Owen Paterson would cull wind turbines faster than he can cull badgers. But we have prevented the Stone Age wing of the Conservative Party from destroying our leading renewables industry.’
However, David Cameron also cast doubt on the need for more on-shore turbines last month.
Aides to Mr Paterson last night dismissed Lib Dem claims that Sir Jeremy was called in to settle the dispute as ‘completely untrue’.
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