The ruling Tory party reshuffle yesterday mostly raised headlines around the exit of ethnic minority Baroness Wasi and the demotion of some women ministers. Of greater interest to climateers however, is the replacement of Caroline Spelman as DEFRA secretary by Owen Paterson.
Described in today’s online ‘Metro’ as a ‘pro-fox hunting and a renewable energy sceptic’, his appointment has raised a nod of approval from the influential (amongst farmers) ‘Farmers Guardian‘. The paper edition of the ‘Metro’ billed him as, horror of horrors, a ‘fox hunting climate sceptic‘. Interesting that the print and online editions don’t quite tally. Maybe a phone call was made from number 10 and the online edition was hastily edited?
Self described as a ‘passionate supporter of localism, free enterprise and less interference in people’s lives’. He believes that taxation and bureaucracy should be minimised to give people the best chance to exercise their talents and makes it clear he is a ‘strong defender of the United Kingdom’.
Paterson became managing director of the family leather business in 1994 and rose to be the president of COTANCE, the European Tanners’ Confederation.
As Shadow Defra Minister between 2005 and 2006 he challenged the Labour Government head on over its refusal to implement a badger cull to curb bovine TB tabling hundreds of parliamentary questions on the subject, driving his counterpart, Animal Health Minister, Ben Bradshaw to distraction. He also campaigned for a fairer prices for dairy farmers.
Also Mr Paterson travelled around the North Atlantic to produce a green paper on fisheries.
Coupled with Chris Huhn’e departure in disgrace and the recent news that the U.K. government is about to publish plans to cut subsidies for land-based wind turbines, capping months of debate within Prime Minister David Cameron’s government about the scale of incentives the industry needs, it seems winds of change are blowing though the corridors of power.
Onshore producers from April 2010 to March 2011 received 394 million pounds ($612 million) of support under the subsidy program, according to U.K. energy regulator Ofgem. Britain has a target to get 15 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020 and plans to reduce support for onshore wind as turbines become cheaper. It got about 3.3 percent of its energy from renewables in 2011,according to BP Plc estimates.