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« UK takes the German path | Main | The Economist on climate sensitivity »

Hayes out, Fallon in

It is reported that energy minister John Hayes has been moved from his position. He will now be working alongside David Cameron in Number 10.

Hayes' seemed very sceptical of the green policy when he arrived, although his tone became much more green during his tenure. I'm struggling to put my finger on anything he did to change the insane course of government energy policy.

His replacement is Michael Fallon, who Guido suggests is from the same somewhat sceptical mould as Hayes:

Just last week Fallon asked whether “specific targets, for example on climate change, are the best way of focusing our spending where it is most needed”. Nonetheless a blow for wind campaigners…

I imagine, however, that he will be as powerless to change anything as Hayes was.

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Reader Comments (26)

I have little hope for most politicians to start acting sensibly but I’m not sure that opinions from several years ago are especially relevant. Politicians don’t seem to look far beyond the media headlines and if he was conned by the ‘CO2 catastrophe guaranteed, free wind solution, the public wants a green government’ message then he might just have been saying what he thought the public wanted to hear. Time has moved on. The recession, the lack of warming, the cooling media, the dismal performance of windmills and an increasingly angry public might have opened his eyes. Or not.

However the Conservatives seem to consider the DECC as safe place to let the Lib Dems free rein. If the power goes off they can shrug and say 'we though they were looking after it, proves you can't trust them with anything'.

Mar 28, 2013 at 11:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Samantha's dad (Sir Reginald Aidrian Berkeley Sheffield, 8th Baronet) will have put his foot down.


Mar 28, 2013 at 11:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby

In a Guardian poll, Fallon agreed that "Government should tackle #climate change aggressively even if it means energy bills go up."

Mar 28, 2013 at 11:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterChris Hope

From his website he appears reasonably sensible. The Guardian poll is interesting (thanks, Chris) but it's typical of the media to reduce complex issues to a are you for us or agin us type questions. I wonder if John Hayes passed on John Redwood's letter.

Mar 28, 2013 at 11:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterMike Fowle

This Micheal Fallon used to work for Cecil Parkinson when Mr Thatcher Privatize Electricity.
Possibbly they re going to Re Nationalize the Grid .Coalition are getting hammered over Fuel Poverty and Gas supplies or at least start talking about it.

Mar 28, 2013 at 11:17 AM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

In a Guardian poll, Fallon agreed that "Government should tackle #climate change aggressively even if it means energy bills go up."

Mar 28, 2013 at 11:03 AM Chris Hope

But he didn’t strongly agree which is a dilution of his opinion in 2007.
Article about Fallon’s members bill from 2007.

MPs are often not specialists. They get their knowledge of the World the same way most people do – through the TV and the press. Until very recently, where would he have heard a dissenting voice on CAGW and its solutions? On any other subject the BBC would be screaming ‘foul’ but for CAGW it’s the chief cheerleader. Every article like those of David Rose chips away at the fake cast iron case for unilateral action on CO2.

Mar 28, 2013 at 11:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Benedict Brogan sees Fallon's appointment as

to bring some hard-nosed economics to DECC, while managing the politics of a Lib Dem controlled department, which Mr Hayes signally failed to do.
I don't think Hayes had the strength of purpose or the staying power and he went native quicker than I would have expected.
Fallon, I think, is a different kettle of fish. If he starts spouting the green energy mantra it will be because he believes it (or is prepared to give it the benefit of the doubt as good politics). I don't think he is open to being bullied by his officials but as ever time will tell.

Mar 28, 2013 at 11:46 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

I'm struggling to put my finger on anything he did to change the insane course of government energy policy.

I think any commentator would struggle on that one but I can't see that there's much he could have done even if he were minded to, which I doubt. True, Ed Davey provided an irrestible opportunity for grandstanding but that was as far as things were ever likely to go.

The wind-power and "low carbon" agendas have in essence been Conservative Party policy since the late 1980s - see e.g. its 1989 Campaign Guide. As with much else, they were adopted uncritically by later regimes and turned from tragedy into farce.

The 2008 Climate Change Act, passed 463 votes to 3, mandated government to ensure that the UK's carbon account for six GHGs for 2050 is at least 80 per cent below the 1990 baseline, aimed to make the UK a low-carbon economy, empowered ministers to introduce measures to achieve targets and created the "independent" Committee on Climate Change to advise government on how to achieve them (Wiki paraphrase). Though there were intra-party differences on details, there were none whatsoever on the substance of the act.

The agendas are now also driven by EU Directive. Until the 2008 act is repealed and the pertinent Directives repudiated, I can't see that much is likely to change. Both initiatives face, well, significant political hurdles.

In any case, most wind-power applications are by now well into the planning cycle, making them a legal, not a political, issue and, for all practical purposes, grandfathered. Ditto the Renewables Obligations which are also all but beyond parliamentary control.

It's a mess and, worse, one from which many politicians seek personal aggrandisment. I don't know the answer though I'm clear that it'll take more than speech-day posturing from the likes of John Hayes.

** I'd welcome informed criticism of this line but I've been asking for it for some years now.

Mar 28, 2013 at 11:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterDaveB

DaveB - FWIW I agree.

Mar 28, 2013 at 12:24 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

Following the 2010 election about 35% of the house of commons is comprised of new MPs.

They are not guilty of voting for the Climate Change Act, so they are in better standing than the majority of their colleagues.

Mar 28, 2013 at 12:38 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

With the best will in the world, the energy minister can only do so much while the current legislation and programmes are in place and fully supported in Westminster.

Mar 28, 2013 at 1:00 PM | Unregistered Commentercosmic

"................ Nonetheless a blow for wind campaigners… "

Really , is there any need to give them so much help or encouragement ?

Mar 28, 2013 at 1:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterBill Sikes' Dog

A couple of points

Firstly wealth can only be created by doing things more efficiently. Making energy artificially more expensive destroys wealth. So for Cameron to let LibDems have DECC was and is financial suicide. He is probably too thick to realise the economy will remain f*cked as long as Ed Davey has his foot firmly on the brakes.

When John Hayes made his comments about how crap windmills were I sent him an email to thank him. I was somewhat surprised to receive a response from an oik at DECC making it very clear that Mr Hayes had spoken out of turn and that Mr PotatoEd was still firmly in charge of, and solely responsible for, ruining the economy.

Mar 28, 2013 at 1:27 PM | Unregistered CommenternTropywins

Joss Garman and Jonathan Leake, two towering intellects make comment the Earth nervously teeters on it's axis but for the rest of us............................"nothing of note here" - go back to sleep.

Fallon, is a Tory [whatever he says is irrelevant] and irrespective of what ministers decree - the show rolls on and the green agenda is driven from and by Brussels - most of the apparatchiks mining away in the bowels of the DECC, DEFRA and all of the green quangos - are prodigy and directly ordered from the EU - the UN agenda 21 is the norm.

Britain's establishment, particularly the panjandrums in the Nomenklatura have always sided and sympathized with the EU.

When the FCO gave up the ghost after the war - firstly the ECSC*, attempting to join up with the Treaty of Rome 1957 and eventually succeeding [if that's the correct word] in 1973 - across the channel was seen as the way and if we didn't like it - the Yanks always there to arm twist us to accede - Pentagon, Langley and the CIA thought it wise.

In the UK, the Green agenda is here to stay - we could halt the unilateral industrial suicide but since when has Westminster - have they ever said no to Brussels? And don't quote me Mrs. Thatcher - because she acquiesced at every treaty signing - all the Tories ever did - was to say Oui.

*European Coal and Steel Community.

Mar 28, 2013 at 1:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

To know what Fallon thinks, watch this video and listen for the lies from all 3 parties.

Mar 28, 2013 at 1:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby


It's certainly a more nuanced picture than the EU bossng the UK about or all of this coming from the UK.

Regard the UK government, all of it including the three main parties, as willingly a part of the same system of government as the EU, with the UK government one of the most enthusiastic members and determined to show an example to the rest, and you have a more accurate view.

The Conservatives have played a particularly dishonest game since the 50s and have on performance been the most enthusiastic about the EU, despite paying lip service to not really liking it.

I don't think we are going to dump the Green Agenda before it causes a lot uf unecessary upset, but we will dump it because it can't work and it's based on fantasies.

Mar 28, 2013 at 2:23 PM | Unregistered Commentercosmic

Michael Fallon. Everyone can be sure he'll be standing right behind the working people: fiscal conservatives who take responsibility for their lives and do the right thing.

Mar 28, 2013 at 2:24 PM | Registered CommenterHector Pascal

There will be no improvement at DECC or at number 10. The Conservatives have had their chance and totally lost the plot on most subjects. Labour has Mr Climate Change himself and the Lib Dems have, over the hast two years, demonstrated that they can adopt a position of insanity on every major subject of public interest.

Mar 28, 2013 at 4:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

Mar 28, 2013 at 11:55 AM | DaveB
"...In any case, most wind-power applications are by now well into the planning cycle, making them a legal, not a political, issue and, for all practical purposes, grandfathered...."

You are probably correct that most windfarms are in the oplanning stage. However, if government changed tack, ie., it did not wish to roll out any more windfarms, all those in planning stage could be halted.

There is always public objection to windfarms. The government need only have a 'quiet word' with the planning committee suggesting that it should listen to public concerns, and hey presto, none would get past the planning application. Planning is a very nebulus affair and it would be very easy for the planning coomittee to give some reason why the upheld public concern was justified in the case of the present application.

Mar 28, 2013 at 4:47 PM | Unregistered Commenterrichard verney

Here is what Chris Heaton-Harris has to say about it.

Mar 28, 2013 at 5:26 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Richard Verney:
. . . if government changed tack . . . all those in planning stage could be halted.

It's fair to suggest that some might be delayed or halted in England though how successful a "nod and wink" approach might be in practice is debatable.

As you know, the wind-power policy rests on a raft of EU, national and regional legislation. Implementation of renewables policy was delegated to the Scotland and Wales (and IIRC N Ireland) noddy administrations even though energy policy in general is reserved to Westminster, which has itself surrendered "competence" on energy to the EU. (Apologies if my terminology is sloppy here.)

First off, EU targets have to be met if fines, bad publicity, Lib-Dim tantrums and the like are to be avoided. Second, a significant majority of wind-power projects are for sites in Scotland and Wales. Though Westminster can act as it sees fit (I'm sure we agree there's little sign of change, despite the lemmings/looming cliff scenario) but there's little it can do to affect these. The policy in Wales is driven by zealots, in Scotland by fanatics (or the other way round - your choice).

In any case, a raft of rejections of applications on which developers have spent ooodles of cash on the process of bureaucratic appeasement otherwise known as EIA is likely to end up in the lap of The Society of Judicial Reviews, Appeals and Allied Efforts with a view either to overturning decisions or recouping costs. Ii's a matter of record that nearly all local authority rejections in Scotland are overturned by Holyrood.

IOW, it's a mess that any half-way ambitious politician will steer well clear of.

Mike Jackson cites above a Torygraph columnist to suggest that Hayes went because he couldn't tackle the ideologues at DECC. He may have a point but, in Hayes' defence, they're tough cookies. Policy at DECC (son of BERR out of DTI) reflects prolonged input from one David Still. Still became involved with an emergent wind power industry in the 1980s, had a relationship with Greenpeace (I forget details for now), chaired the British Wind Energy Association 1997-2002 and was, by 2002, heading up AMEC's wind power sector.

He was seconded in 2002 to the Department of Trade and Industry for two years to "help deliver the Government's targets for renewable energy". He stayed for IIRC five years and helped to propagate more myths about wind power than one could shake a stick at. Among the initiatives taken on his watch was a £millions PR campaign to "advise" planning authorities. Etc etc. Compared to that lot, the Berlin Wall was a pushover. I'm no Tory but one can only wish Fallon well - interesting times and all that.

The only mechanisms I can see for avoiding the looming and long-forecast disaster is substantively to alter the subsidy regime and so render wind power uneconomic. I'm not sure if it's even legally or politically feasible given the clout of the wind-power sector and the fact that current projects are essentially grandfathered. (What seems to matter is the law applicable at the time an application was submitted, not what it might later become).

Whether that is true of the crucial ROC buyback price, I'm not so sure. But it'd take a much tougher government than Cameron's shakey coalition to do it - and the rejection of some long-standing shibboleths. Don't hold your breath.

Mar 28, 2013 at 6:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaveB

There was this about Fallon in the Mail.
Mr Fallon said of his new job straddling two ministeries: 'Both departments share a strong focus on business and the economy and I am delighted to be given the opportunity to build on their cross cutting work on this agenda.

'This week has seen the launch of important industrial strategies for the nuclear and oil and gas sectors to secure future billions of investment, thousands of jobs and a diverse energy mix. A strategy for offshore wind will be completed in the coming weeks.

'Energy policy has a key role to play in securing sustainable future growth in the economy, strengthening supply chains, keeping people's bills down and tackling climate change.'

Greenpeace policy director Doug Parr said: 'Britain is at a crossroads, with decisions being made now that will define how we get and use energy for the next 30-40 years.

'As such, Michael Fallon has a real opportunity to clean up our power sector, capitalise on clean, home-grown energy and properly open Britain for green business.

'In opposition he authored a law to drive investment in renewable energy, and as Deputy Chairman of the Conservatives he described the renewables sector as “the work force of tomorrow".

'We look forward to him putting this vision into practice and safeguarding green jobs and growth.'

Mar 28, 2013 at 7:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterA C Osborn

@ cosmic,

I don't think we are going to dump the Green Agenda before it causes a lot uf unecessary upset, but we will dump it because it can't work and it's based on fantasies.

Agreed with your final sentence, dumping the [very non-green] 'green' Agenda and with it the renewable energy madness - it surely will come to pass, though my fear is - how bad [the UK's economic plight] does it have to become before the exit button is pushed?

Mar 28, 2013 at 9:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

It's right out of "Yes Prime |Minister"

Anybody who heard Hayes floundering and blustering last week on Radio 4 when actually questioned can spot the signs...

As per "Yes Prime Minister" - Fallon, Schmallon, Farage or even (shudder) Ms. Lucas of Brighton & Hove - it doesn't matter who's in the minister's office if the "civil" servants have disconnected the levers of power and control the bulk of information flowing to "the decision takers" it's their agenda that's being implemented.

Our civil servants are deeply compromised and out of control, I keep using the delinquent donkeys living in a carrot filled world where sticks are banned analogy - but it works.The politicians put in charge of them soon tire of trying to push them in the correct direction - and as we know donkeys don't do leadership...

If you're herding donkeys - you need something that the donkeys respect - standing behind them and talking nicely and maybe waving your arms around simply isn't going to work - is it? - as I think happened to the shallow greasy pole clamberer Hayes - easier to switch to the carrot diet and just follow the donkey...

I doubt Fallon's going to cull the population of donkeys somehow.

Mar 28, 2013 at 9:07 PM | Registered Commentertomo

DaveB - it's not just wind. Look into the kickbacks going into biomass via renewables fuel obligation and carbon floor price. IMO there is a big tale to be told here on "follow the money", even if only from the point of view of making sense of things which don't make sense!!

Sort of relevant - This looks fun!:

Mar 28, 2013 at 11:18 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

not banned yet
DaveB - it's not just wind.

Agree completely - but many thanks for the references. They look very useful, I'm very grateful.

Mar 29, 2013 at 10:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterDaveB

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