Two Conservative MPs have been accused of ‘rank hypocrisy’ over £10,000 they took in donations from a Russian wind farm developer.
Conservative MPs Alun Cairns and Guto Bebb have both spoken out against wind farms in the past. A self-proclaimed sceptic, Mr Cairns has branded wind energy inefficient and expensive, and called for a cut in the subsidies paid to their developers.
But Labour has criticised the pair, calling them hypocrites for taking cash from Alexander Temerko, a director of energy company Offshore Group Newcastle. The register of MPs’ interests shows Mr Cairns, MP for the Vale of Glamorgan, and Mr Bebb, MP for Aberconwy, each accepted £5,000 from him in April this year.
Records show since April 2012 Mr Temerko, who became a British citizen in 2011, has given the Conservatives more than £280,000 in donations.
They show four MPs have received individual donations totalling £30,000. Mr Cairns’ does not feature in the data, as it was made after the Electoral Commission’s most recent disclosure deadline.
In addition to oil and gas projects, OGN Group manufactures components for wind farms – several of which have been proposed or built in Wales despite public disapproval.
Chris Elmore, Mr Cairns’ opponent at next year’s general election, said the dispute echoed criticism of Welsh Conservative Assembly leader Andrew RT Davies last month.
He was accused of undermining Conservative wind policy after it emerged planning permission for a 99.5m tall wind turbine on his land had been requested by a company.
Mr Elmore said: “The sheer hypocrisy of the Tories knows no bounds. While David Cameron is promising to rid Britain of wind farms, there’s an application for a huge 100m wind turbine on the land of Welsh Tory leader Andrew RT Davies.
“And now Alun Cairns, a Tory MP who sits on the Prime Minister’s advisory board, has been found taking cash from wind farm developers.”
He added: “David Cameron’s closest advisers are taking donations from the very industry PM is declaring war on.”
Mr Cairns said his opinion of wind farms had not changed, and that he had objected to an application for one in the past few weeks.
He said: “I am pleased to receive the support from such an expert engineer with experience across a range of economic sectors.
“He is a major employer in the UK and I would love to see him develop his engineering businesses in South Wales, and will do all I can to encourage him to this part of the country. Do my critics oppose that?”
Mr Bebb also said his position on wind farms was unaltered, and that he continued to support a campaign to stop them from being built in areas where they were not wanted.
He attacked Ed Miliband’s term as Environment Secretary, when he gave the green light to a £2bn wind farm off his North Wales constituency’s coastline despite local opposition.
He said: “The only hypocrisy on show here comes from the Labour Party, who were happy to see a minister in London reject a decision made by locally elected councillors. So much for their concern about the views of local people.”
A Welsh Labour spokesperson said: “This is rank hypocrisy from the Tories. Rather than complain about getting caught out, Mr Bebb would do better to be honest with his constituents from the start.”
A Conservative spokesperson added: “This is bizarre posturing from an increasingly desperate Labour candidate, best known for his attempts to shut Vale primary schools and slash education spending.”
A spokesperson for Mr Temerko said he supported the Conservative party as a member, and added: “He promotes and is actively involved in the party’s election campaign.”
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