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« Windy miller | Main | Energy Bill report stage »

Greenery grubbery

Taxpayers might as well hand over their credit cardsThere have been some appalling shenanigans going on in the House of Lords during their examination of the Energy Bill. In order to understand what has been going on, one needs to wind back a few weeks to a ruling in the Court of Session in Edinburgh.  In that case, Lady Clark ruled that wind farm operators need an Ofgem licence under the terms of the Electricity Act 1989 and since operators have never bothered themselves with actually going through these hoops, the decision seemed to force the SNP administration to slam on the brakes - at least temporarily - in their headlong rush to cover the country in wind turbines.

Remarkably, however, Mr Salmond and his colleagues decided that they would continue to rule on wind farm planning applications anyway, pending an appeal that will be heard next year. Their grounds for doing so were apparently "the national interest" (a position that seems to me to be of dubious legality, although I confess I am no expert on the law in this area).

The new wrinkle in the tale is that yesterday a Liberal Democrat peer put down an amendment to the Energy Bill that would have negated Lady Clark's ruling.

And who was that peer? Why, none other than Nicol Stephen, the former deputy leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats and a man who is up to his neck in windfarm-related business interests.

Lord Stephen has issued declaration that is customary in these circumstances that it was all "a mistake" and that he was "surprised to see his name on the amendment".


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Reader Comments (34)

Wind farms are old hat. The asymmetric praying mantis is the way to go.

Oct 29, 2013 at 9:34 AM | Registered CommenterGrantB

Some of the companies he is involved in:

Renewable Energy Ventures Limited,
* Pilot Offshore Renewables Limited
* Renewable Energy Ventures (Learney) Limited
* Renewable Energy Ventures (Burnside) Limited
Energisation Limited
Rev Project Company No. 1 Limited
* Rev Holding Company No. 1 Limited

The ones with an asterisk don't appear to be in the Register of Interest.

Oct 29, 2013 at 9:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

Is anyone really surprised? Ethics do not seem to be a requirement for politicians. Perhaps Lord Deben would provide some advice to Lord Stephen.

Oct 29, 2013 at 9:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterIan W

I spent five years on a planning committee, and planning permission can be retrospective. Though there is always a very big risk that it would be turned down. Presumably in Mr Salmond's case, the decision in any appeal will be made by the Scottish government.

Oct 29, 2013 at 9:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterTrefor Jones

This 'in the national interest' rationale reminds me of the ECHR, article 1, which says

"(1) Every natural or legal person is entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of his possessions. No one shall be deprived of his possessions except in the public interest and subject to the conditions provided for by law and by the general principles of international law.
(2) The preceding provisions shall not, however, in any way impair the right of a state to enforce such laws as it deems necessary to control the use of property in accordance with the general interest or to secure the payment of taxes or other contributions or penalties."

Seems rather worrying, given how our leaders are prone to defining 'in the public interest' and 'in accordance with the general interest' ...

Oct 29, 2013 at 10:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarbara

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As the people who run the big six energy firms go before MPs to explain the recent price rises, we want to know what would you ask? We'll speak to one of the MPs who'll be asking the questions.
The average price of gas and electricity paid by UK households has risen by around 41% since 2007. So, how is the rising cost of heating your home affecting you?
- Ed Miliband wants to enforce an 18 month price freeze on bills, John Major proposed a windfall tax on profits and the government is looking at removing some green levies from your bills. We want your views on these and other ways the energy market could be reformed.
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Oct 29, 2013 at 10:49 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Flying saves CO2 now ? : New DAILY flights to Humberside for Danish engineers to build windfarms to save CO2
Scunthorpe Telegraph

- Our Local BBC seems owned by the Subsidy Mafia. It's desperate to hype windbiz : Every week BBC Humberside do a story, but when you get to the bottom of the story the locals are not optimistic and the actual size of total projects so far still less that 1/2 a gas power station

Oct 29, 2013 at 11:22 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Well, I can tell you how this works in Australia (which has a legal and political system derived from yours).

When a government approves a contract which is subject to further legal appeals, if the appeal succeeds, the company or companies involved get paid compensation - by taxpayers.

Neat, eh?

They are just looking after their mates. The public interest is not involved here, but the public treasury most definitely is.

Oct 29, 2013 at 11:25 AM | Registered Commenterjohanna

How can they not see themselves as grubby?

Well, for one thing, they hold mutual stroking sessions such as the one reported here, organised by the 2020 Group in Edinburgh last month:

In their world, they are pioneers, heroes and heroines, battling the forces of darkness, leading the way to the sunlit uplands , driven by 'science' of their own invention and interpretation, untroubled by doubts and doubters. Thus the 'scientists' think they are supporting the politicians, the politicians think they are supporting the 'scientists', the sundry others think they are supporting both, and no one need take primary responsibility. The 'scientists' can give that to the IPCC, the politicians can give that to the 'scientists', the sundry others can share it with those two groups and with a general 'green' movement that they see as powerful and worth being part of.

Those of us not so inclined look on with jaws a'dropped. We can also find it easier to spot the grubbiness, the shallow thinking, the blatant opportunism, and the awful damage being done to our country.

Oct 29, 2013 at 11:32 AM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade


The Galileo Movement :
Today is a special day in Britain.
Commemorating British politicians passing in 2008 with little dissent “The Climate Change Bill”, a piece of legislation that's already being seen as “the most absurd Bill that this Parliament has ever had to examine”.

Oct 29, 2013 at 11:58 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

So if Scotland votes to leave the Union will Alex Salmond promise to take these people with him? (Obviously he gets to keep the majority of the wind farms and planning applications.)

Oct 29, 2013 at 12:03 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart


This is jaw-droppingly shameless stuff. And this man is a peer of the realm. God help us all.

Oct 29, 2013 at 12:20 PM | Unregistered Commenteragouts

Salmon essentially pulled the same proverbial rabbit out of the generally same legal hat (i.e. "National Interest") when he over-ruled the Aberdeen City Council sub-committee regarding Donald Trump's planning permission for his golf course development a couple of years ago. Now I personally think that Salmon was right vis a vis Trump but wrong vis a vis the latest wind-farm deal, but you can't have it both ways if the law is the law. And what the law says (in my layman opinion) is that the First Minister does have the power to over-rule elected representatives by invoking the "National Interest" rabbit. If so, mightn't it be a kinder, gentler and more civilised place here in Scotland if we just voted for Independence rather than being subject to King Salmon (who will go soon if independence is gained, but remain in power if it is lost (as the Tories and Labour and the LibDems are all in thrall to their Westminster pay/privilege masters)? Vote Yes!

Oct 29, 2013 at 12:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard

agouts: Absolutely shameless but the Climate Change Act is the spiv's charter.

Oct 29, 2013 at 12:36 PM | Unregistered Commenterssat

Ian W

"Perhaps Lord Deben would provide some advice to Lord Stephen."

It sounds like he already has!

Oct 29, 2013 at 12:57 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

On the One O'clock news on the Beeb the first person to condemn the energy companies for putting up prices was - wait for it - Trougher Tim. He must have a skin thicker than that of a rhino.

Oct 29, 2013 at 1:17 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Anyone who knows Nicol Stephen will know he is not one of the sharpest tacks in the box. In fact he makes Ed Davey look intelligent. His attempts to obtain planning approval for windfarms in Aberdeenshire have been shambolic and his applications have been returned several times because he refuses to supply accurate information.

Just another failed politician.

Oct 29, 2013 at 1:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn B

John B: '....Nicol Stephen.... makes Ed Davey look intelligent...'


As an aside - anyone got any nice pictures of broken/damaged wind turbines after the storm..? PLEASE..?

Oct 29, 2013 at 1:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterSherlock1

It is corruption that has enabled the social madness of AGW to fester and metastasize into the $billion dollar per day disaster it has now become.

Oct 29, 2013 at 1:36 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

The Galileo Movement :
Today is a special day in Britain.
Commemorating British politicians passing in 2008 with little dissent “The Climate Change Bill”, a piece of legislation that's already being seen as “the most absurd Bill that this Parliament has ever had to examine”.
Oct 29, 2013 at 11:58 AM | stewgreen

The full title of the Climate Change Bill is in fact

"The Climate Change (Destruction of the Economy) Act (2008)

Oct 29, 2013 at 1:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Poynton

"There's little good in an English Whig; in a Scotch Whig, there's none."

Sabatini, 'The Gamester'

Oct 29, 2013 at 2:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterSebastian Weetabix

Has anyone any idea about what a Scottish court can do if its rulings are not obeyed?

I would have thought that, at the least, Salmond could be on the receiving end of a charge of maladministration...

Oct 29, 2013 at 3:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

Trefor Jones - planning permission can still be granted. An Ofgem licence is a different matter altogether and not something the planners look at, it not being a planning matter. The Ofgem licence would have to be obtained, presumably before the wind farm could operate. Presumably, even troughers wouldn't build a wind farm without making sure they have their licence in place, now that they know about it. It would seem that either they didn't know (how likely is that?) or they didn't care if the government had turned a blind eye in the mad dash to become the greenest country in Europe/The World.

Phillip Bratby - Trougher Tim - it's a good job I don't live in his constituencey. Isn't there anyone amongst us who does and who can start a campign against this parasite?

Oct 29, 2013 at 3:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterGrumpy

"I am shocked, shocked I tell you, to see my name of this amendment."

"Your winnings/dividends/backhanders sir."

Oct 29, 2013 at 4:07 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Now will you all understand that it is all a Mafia scam.

Fake science. fake politics; rope and lamp posts, or should it be piano wire?

Oct 29, 2013 at 4:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

@Grumpy "Trougher Tim - it's a good job I don't live in his constituencey. Isn't there anyone amongst us who does and who can start a campign against this parasite?"

I have made a complaint to the Police about Troffa (which seems to be making progress) and repeatedly to the HoC Commissioner for Standards (for which I got repeated brush offs).

One of The HoC Commissioner for Standards excuses was that he couldn't start an investigation whilst the Police were looking into the same matter.
However it was the Police who advised me to complain to the the HoC Commissioner for Standards on the basis that some of my complaints were "not within the Police's remit", but were within HoC Commissioner for Standards.
I sent him a copy of the Police letter and have been met with stony silence.

Watchdog my backside- there is only one group the HoC Commissioner for Standards is protecting- and it is not the General Public!

Oct 29, 2013 at 4:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

Someone might like to do a survey among the public.

BBC coverage criticised for favouring #climate change sceptics
Survey Question 1 : Can you state the sceptics case on recent climate issues Yes/No
Survey Question 2 : Do you think the BBC gives too much time to climate sceptics ? Yes/No

Oct 29, 2013 at 4:39 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

It is my impression that the entire globe is almost controlled by the same elitist group that once ruled the old USSR, and they know that solar activity controls Earth's climate !

The reason for overlooking that fact are given in the first chapter of my autobiography: Perhaps nuclear blackmail but certainly FEAR of death in 1945 convinced world leaders and guilt-ridden scientists to hide the information typed in red and highlighted in yellow on both:

1. This one page synopsis of my research career: <I>"A Journey to the Core of the Sun"</I>

2. Chapter 1 tells the history of meeting Professor Paul Kazuo Kuroda in May 1960.

This information is being posted as written with the conclusions first because frankly I do not know if I will be around to write or you around to read information that our government still wants to hide.

Thanks for allowing me to post this information here.

With kind regards,
<I>- Oliver K. Manuel</I>
Former NASA Principal
Investigator for Apollo

Oct 29, 2013 at 5:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterOliver K. Manuel

"Thanks for allowing me to post this information here."

You are welcome. Just don't make a habit of it.

Oct 30, 2013 at 3:38 AM | Unregistered CommentersHx


I'm having a fair bit of trouble viewingwith internet exploder. Need to go into compatibility view, then can see as expected. But then to get to comments etc needs several tries and getting to hold my mouth just right. Any clues?

Oct 30, 2013 at 7:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterAnother Ian

@ Another Ian.

I'm having no problems here with internet explo"d"er.



Oct 30, 2013 at 9:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterPM Walsh

Re: " Ethics do not seem to be a requirement for politicians."

Oct 30, 2013 at 1:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterDyuspeptic Curmudgeon

'Internet exploder'..... Ha ha - very funny..!


Oh, sh*t...

Oct 30, 2013 at 1:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterSherlock1

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