Whitehall’s most senior civil servant reportedly had to intervene in the simmering row over wind farms between Conservative Environment Secretary Owen Paterson and Liberal Democrat Energy Secretary Ed Davey.
The Ministers are said to be “at war” over a report ordered by Mr Paterson on how wind farms – a controversial issue in Devon and Cornwall where 100 massive turbines now stand – affect the countryside economy.
Mr Paterson has said wind farms are often “regarded as a complete scam”.
But Mr Davey hit back in his keynote address at the Liberal Democrat conference in Glasgow saying Mr Paterson wanted to “cull wind turbines faster than he can cull badgers”.
It has now been reported that Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood intervened to tell Mr Paterson that he could not release the report.
The action is said to have followed accusations from Mr Davey that it would have “undermined” the reputation of Whitehall.
In a story dogged by claim and counter-claim, Mr Paterson’s aides said claims that Sir Jeremy was called in to settle the dispute were “completely untrue”.
Mr Davey told the Daily Telegraph that the Cabinet Secretary made it “clear” to Mr Paterson that he was banned from releasing his original report.
“Well the Cabinet Secretary actually made it clear,” Mr Davey said. “He (Owen Paterson) is not in charge of energy.”
He added: “I’m told, though I haven’t seen this report, that it really didn’t meet normal standards of evidence and scientific analysis.”
Mr Davey said that his Department for Energy and Climate Change was now working on a new report alongside the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) – something sources in Mr Paterson’s department have denied.
The new report is to look at the impact of all renewable energy sources, including disputed solar farms and highly contentious fracking, on the rural economy and how they affect house prices.
“It’s not an Owen Paterson report,” Mr Davey said. “It’s a joint report. He wanted to do a Defra-only report. He was told he couldn’t. We’ll see what it comes out with. The remit is to look at all aspects of energy and climate change policy impacts on rural areas.”
UKIP chairman Steve Crowther, a leading voice in the campaign against the £3 billion Atlantic Array project, said: “It is not going to be long before the Government’s energy strategy falls out of bed.”
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