Green energy pioneer Dale Vince, who owns Stroud-based Ecotricity and Forest Green Rovers football club, is donating a quarter of a million pounds to the Labour party after accusing the Coalition Government of being ‘deceitful’ on its energy policy.
Mr Vince said there was ‘an existential threat’ from the Tories winning an outright victory in May’s General Election, and slammed those who labelled Labour leader Ed Miliband as ‘anti-business’.
Mr Vince’s Ecotricity firm, which has grown from just one wind turbine at Nympsfield, near Nailsworth 20 years ago, to a major renewable energy producer and supplier of domestic energy, has made the donation.
But Mr Vince has been an increasing critic of the Coalition Government’s energy policy, particularly the crackdown on wind turbines.
Two separate major Ecotricity plans for wind farms alongside the M5 at Huntspill, near Bridgwater, and at Berkeley in Gloucestershire were turned down by local planners and again by the Government, and the Conservative-run Wiltshire Council tried unsuccessfully to produce a strategic plan which effectively banned any large-scale wind turbine to be erected anywhere in the county.
But Mr Vince said his problem with the Coalition Government went much deeper than that.
“We’ve watched the coalition government systematically undermine not just the renewable energy industry in Britain but the whole green economy and, by default, efforts to combat climate change. We feel compelled to act and to speak out,” said Mr Vince.
“One of the biggest deceits of this government was the claim that green energy support was at the root of high and rising energy bills – the claim behind David Cameron’s infamous ‘cut the green crap’ quote.”
“It would be a disaster for Britain to leave Europe. We face not just that possibility but the consequential break-up of the UK. It’s a nightmare scenario,” he added.
It is not clear if the money will be specifically to boost the campaign of local Labour candidates. Former Labour MP for Stroud, David Drew, is challenging sitting Tory incumbent Neil Carmichael, who beat him in 2010.
Mr Carmichael was criticised over renewable energy after it emerged he opposed Ecotricity’s plan in Berkeley, while proposing a large number of wind turbines on his country estate in the north east of England.
But Stroud is also home to a strong Green Party contingent – it boasted the nation’s first Green-controlled town council, and has a number of district councillors. But the Green Party’s hopes in Stroud of receiving some Ecotricity donations have been frustrated.
Mr Vince is, however, donating money to the Greens, but specifically £20,000 to help the UK’s only existing Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas, get re-elected.
“It was really the starkness of the choice,” Mr Vince said. “We were all filled with hope when Cameron promised the greenest government ever,” he said. “But he (Cameron) has done great harm to renewable energy and the fight against climate change.”
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