Gold in them there windmills
21 February 2015
The BBC didn’t tell us all the facts in its excitement about a vast new offshore wind farm, writes Christopher Booker
The BBC naturally got very excited by the news that Ed Davey, our Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, has given the go-ahead to the largest offshore wind farm in the world – 400 monster turbines covering 436 square miles of the North Sea.
What the BBC didn’t mention was that this £8 billion project, producing on average 840 megawatts of electricity, will earn for its mainly Norwegian and German owners some £900 million a year in subsidies, paid by all of us through our electricity bills.
Neither did the BBC mention that, in Manchester, another foreign-owned consortium is currently building, for only an eighth of the capital cost, a gas-fired power station. It will produce a similar amount of electricity, up to 880 megawatts, whenever it is needed and without a penny of subsidy.
A further point not mentioned by the BBC was that, until quite recently, the chairman of Forewind, the consortium behind the North Sea project, was Lord Deben (aka John Gummer), until it was thought appropriate that he should resign when he became chairman of the Committee on Climate Change, set up to give the Government “independent” advice on its energy policy.
But he was replaced as Forewind’s chairman by Charles Hendry, who had just stepped down in turn from being Ed Davey’s colleague as Minister of State at the Department of Energy and Climate Change.
All very cosy. But at least it means that some of those £900 million a year we pay in subsidies will be going to a good British home.