On 13th June 2016, an articlei appeared on the BBC website, headed simply “UK to double French energy supplies with new cable”. So far as I can see, that is the first online reference by the BBC to a story that was going to grow. At that stage it seemed to be relatively uncontroversial, with a simple report of an announcement of a £1.1Bn cross Channel electricity cable, which it was said would double the amount of energy the UK then received from France. The story reported that the announcement had been made by the developer, Aquind, led by Ukrainian businessman, Alexander Termerko. There followed a reference to a name that would surface later:
Lord Callanan, a non-executive director at Aquind, said: “With a growing energy supply gap threatening UK households and businesses, there’s an urgent need for a fast and reliable way to introduce new capacity.
“The interconnector will significantly ease the pressure on the UK grid and reduce the risk of blackouts,” he added.
Those would be the blackouts that nobody acknowledged were a risk. The story concluded by noting that UK wholesale power prices were gradually becoming more expensive than those in France (I wonder why?), and this made supplying power to the UK from France more economic. Also:
The spread between the two markets has widened because while power prices across Europe have fallen, UK prices have not fallen as far as France – partly because there have been concerns about whether the UK can meet demand at peak times in recent years, and this risk has been reflected in a higher price.
Oh, that’s why. Plus ca change.
Cross-Channel £1.1bn electricity link plan submitted by Aquind
I have found no further references on the BBC website until, on 15th November 2019, another articleii appeared there, with the above heading.
As with most BBC reporting of anything vaguely to do with renewables, the report seemed to be broadly favourable, with uncritical regurgitation of Aquind’s press release:
The two-way link could supply up to 5% of Great Britain’s energy needs with cheaper, greener electricity, the firm said.
Aquind said the link, known as an interconnector, would “make a significant contribution to the security of Great Britain’s electricity supply and achieve greater affordability by improving competition”.
It said it would typically import electricity from France because British gas and coal-derived power was more expensive than French nuclear and renewable sources [sic].
The firm, which is led by Ukrainian-born businessman Alexander Temerko, said it was unlike most similar projects in that no investment costs would be passed to consumers in Great Britain or France.
However, there was just the first suggestion that all might not be straightforward, and that problems might lie ahead:
Portsmouth City Council has objected to the scheme, which would reach the Hampshire coast at Eastney beach.
Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson said: “It seems bizarre that if you’re going to bring an electric cable in from France, you land it at the southern end of the most densely-populated city out of London and then take this cable all the way through the city.”
Portsmouth protest over Aquind Cross-Channel electricity link plan
Almost a year later, and difficulties were surfacing, as reported by the BBC in an articleiii on 10th October 2020. The difference in reporting style is interesting, and the sympathy for the protestors is already evident (would that the BBC would be so sympathetic to those protesting about the devastation of thousands of acres of wild uplands by wind farms).
Plans for a £1.2bn [I see it had increased by £100M] electricity link between England and France could mean the loss of green spaces in Portsmouth, campaigners have said.…
…Portsmouth City Council has allocated £250,000 to opposing the scheme.
Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson said the planned route was “nuts”.
“Traffic chaos across the city for a year is a price that is too high.
“But its the destruction of the allotments which has really galvanised people – they are completely right to be upset.”…
…”Green energy is great, but not green energy to lose your green spaces.”…
University watchdog faces ‘impartiality’ questions
A little over four months later, and new issues were being reported. As the heading above suggests (it was the heading to a BBC articleiv on its website on 19th February 2021) questions were now being raised about a potential conflict of interest:
England’s new university regulator is facing questions about a potential conflict of interest.
Lord Wharton has been appointed chair of the Office for Students (OfS) but is also a paid adviser to a firm Aquind, which wants to build a cable linking the UK and French electricity grids.
The £1.2bn project would be built through the University of Portsmouth, which is strongly opposed to the route.
The OfS says protections are in place to prevent conflicts of interest.
“Where there is a conflict related to an individual higher education provider we would expect the relevant board member to exclude themselves from any decisions directly related to that provider,” said a spokesman for the OfS university watchdog.
But the OfS declined to say whether that would specifically apply to the University of Portsmouth and its incoming chair, Conservative peer, Lord Wharton.
The University of Portsmouth says any “perceived conflict of interest” needs to be “transparently managed”.
I find it fascinating that double standards seem to apply. The sort of comments that were reported next are exactly the sort of comments (from both sides) that are often heard when local communities seek to resist the much more intrusive huge scale wind farms that are blighting large swathes of our countryside, but rarely – if ever – do we see this scale of support from the BBC:
The city council’s planning officials said the prospect of it being pushed through with the compulsory acquisition of land was “draconian” and an “interference with human rights”.
The University of Portsmouth, whose land it would run through, is concerned about disruption to sporting facilities and says it would have a “huge negative impact” and leave it facing financial losses.
Aquind firmly rejects the university’s claims, saying the impact would be “minimal”, work would be carried out in a way that reduced disruption and the route of the “underground cable corridor has been amended and refined” in response to earlier feedback.
The response to the apparent conflict of interest on display is also fascinating:
But the university will now face Lord Wharton both as someone working for Aquind, on the opposing side in this commercial dispute, and also the chair of the regulator, which has powers to impose fines and sanctions on universities such as itself.
While there is no suggestion of impropriety in either role, as paid private adviser or incoming publicly-funded watchdog, there are questions being asked about an overlap.
Portsmouth South MP, Stephen Morgan, questioned whether Lord Wharton could appear to be impartial.
“We know Aquind has links to Tory donors. But to be advising a firm responsible for this project while it is being challenged by a university Wharton is set to regulate, raises serious red flags about his impartiality, particularly if he keeps the Conservative whip.
“These revelations cast fresh doubt over Lord Wharton’s suitability for this key role,” said Mr Morgan, Labour’s shadow minister for the armed forces.
These are the sorts of things we sceptics often say about (inter alia) the likes of Lord Deben and what we regard as his substantial conflict of interest in his role as Chair of the Climate Change Committee whilst being (fully and properly declared) chairman of Sancroft International Limited, Valpak Limited and Valpak Holdings Limited, but nobody other than us seems much interested in that issue.
Portsmouth protesters march against Aquind Cross-Channel cable
By 4th July 2021, even though the number of protestors were apparently rather small, the BBC was happy to give them publicity in an articlev bearing the above headline.
Dozens of protesters have marched against a planned £1.2bn electricity link between England and France….
…Campaigners walked 12 miles (19km) along the proposed route of the cable in protest. They said the project would damage the environment.
As it happens, I sympathise with the protestors, but I am bemused by the continuing shift in the nature of the BBC’s reporting of the story.
Aquind Cross-Channel cable a security risk, says MP
Just nine days later, and the BBC followed up with another articlevi bearing the above heading. The fact that an MP made an intervention in the House of Commons certainly justified the BBC reporting the story, and it does fairly report Aquind’s response to the allegations. But there’s no disguising the fact that the reporting style has gone from being quite enthusiastic about a “green energy” project, to decidedly luke warm. The most that the BBC could bring themselves to say, by way of anything remotely supportive, is this:
The company has said previously the two-way link could supply cheaper, greener electricity.
To be clear, I actually approve of this reporting style. I think the BBC should report stories of interest to the public without fear or favour and should not show obvious bias in support or against an issue. I just can’t help contrasting it with the reporting style adopted when reporting on other “green” or climate-related issues, whether with breathless enthusiasm or desperate anxiety.
Pandora Papers: Businessman linked to Tory donations made millions from alleged fraud
And so we arrive at this week’s big news story. The above heading was that on a BBC articlevii yesterday, which was just one of many on the leak of the Pandora Papers this week. And now the story has changed. No longer is it simply a report about the plan to construct an interconnector from Portsmouth to Normandy and some local opposition to the plan. Now it’s much bigger, and I make no apologies for quoting at length:
A businessman whose companies have backed 34 Tory MPs made millions from an allegedly corrupt Russian pipeline deal, leaked files show.
Former oil executive Victor Fedotov owns a firm currently seeking UK government approval for a controversial energy link between the UK and France.
…Last year Mr Fedotov was revealed to be the owner of Aquind, the company behind a £1.24bn project [I see the price has increased by another£40,000] to build an electricity cable linking the UK to France. Aquind is currently seeking UK government approval for the project and a decision will be made in weeks.
His connection to Aquind has been hidden through an exemption to UK company laws granted to people with personal security concerns.
Mr Fedotov is now identified on the company’s public records, alongside Alexander Temerko, the Ukraine-born public face and part owner of Aquind.
Mr Temerko is a Conservative Party activist and personal friend of Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
He is a regular at Conservative Party fundraisers and has personally donated more than £700,000 to the party.
Research by the BBC has established that in addition to Mr Temerko’s donations to the Conservative Party, Mr Fedotov’s businesses have donated another £700,000 to 34 MPs and their local parties since the Aquind project began.
Aquind’s relationship with the Conservative Party does not end there.
Lord Callanan, currently a business minister responsible for corporate responsibility, is a former director of the company, while former minister Lord James Wharton took up a role as a paid adviser when he lost his House of Commons seat in 2017.
I make no allegations of impropriety. I reproduce comments made by others, while noting that those who are the subject of the article defend themselves vigorously. It may well be that everything is above board and in compliance with UK law. However, why the double standards? Why the grave concern about this issue, while in another context, it is deemed perfectly acceptable for Parliamentarians to have what most people would regard as obvious conflicts of interest, simply because their interests have been declared and are there for all (who can be bothered to look) to see?
I mentioned above what some of us regard as Lord Deben’s conflict of interest. Again, I make no allegations of impropriety. He has complied with his legal obligations, and nothing is hidden. And yet it feels so wrong that he is in a position to be so influential with regard to shaping laws and policies from which he may personally benefit, however indirectly. I can’t help having the same feeling about those politicians or ex-politicians who have advocated and pushed through legislation for “green” energy, while family members have (however openly, and however much above board) gained personal benefit from the policies for which they legislated or advocated. David Cameron, whose father-in-law was said to be earning £1,000 per day from the wind turbines on his landviii. Ed Miliband, whose barrister wife earns fees from acting for wind farm companiesix. Nick Clegg, whose wife is a non-executive director of a Spanish construction company said to be the world’s largest wind farm building companyx. Sir Ed Davey, who was appointed chairman of Mongoose Energy in September 2015xi. (I see it had its electricity supply licence revoked by Ofgem in December 2019xii). Or Sir Ed Davey again, who as Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change awarded EDF the contract to build a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point, and who was appointed a part-time consultant in January 2016 to MHP Communications, the public relations and lobbying firm representing EDF Energy. All legal and above board. All wrong, to my mind. It’s a short hop, I think – at least in terms of perception – between making a large-money decision some time before being appointed to the board of the PR agency representing the company on whose application you’ve just sat in judgment, and this:
The company [Aquind] submitted its plans in 2019 and the decision now sits with Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng. His predecessor Alok Sharma recused himself from the decision following revelations he had shared a table with Mr Temerko at a Conservative fundraising event.
Former energy minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan also recused herself after her local party group received several donations from Aquind and Mr Temerko.
It’s also a short hop – to my ultra-scrupulous way of looking at things – between Messrs Cameron, Miliband and Clegg and Sir Ed Davey, with indirect financial interests in the policies they advocate or have advocated, and this.
Gavin Millar QC, an elections expert, said: “The question is: if you’re a political party in government, why aren’t you recognizing the risk that there’s a connection between the money you’re receiving and the person who’s giving that money? ”
He added: “It’s in their interests not to look too hard. And it’s lucrative to not look hard if you’re good at raising the money.”
I stress again that the people I have named have complied with the rules, and to that extent have done nothing wrong. It’s just that I think the rules are wrong.
Finally, I also find it strange that interconnectors are being hailed as the route to energy security (the BBC had a nice articlexiii this week about the new one between the UK and Norway), while local MP Penny Mordaunt:
said it would be “strategically wrong” to go ahead with a project that would make the UK “reliant on another country [France] to power us”.
It’s a funny old world.
Postscript. For the sake of balance and completeness, Aquind’s websitexiv is footnoted below for those who wish to read what it says about the proposed interconnector.
A tale of dubious practice: but was it ever thus? You pick upon energy (green, nuclear or otherwise) especially that supplied by the French (who already have threatened poor little Jersey because French fishermen couldn’t get sufficient licences). I suspect that, regardless of what enterprise you pick, you will find, sharp, barely legal or downright nefarious practices. The Pandora papers bring back memories of the disposal of BHS and the raid on its pension funds.
On another point, when has the earnings and doings of an independent wife cast nasturtiums on a politician’s integrity?
So nuclear energy is now Green Energy, is it? – Well, fine with me, so let’s have lots of safe and reliable (if done right, which it can be) nuclear energy, but home-designed and home-built, not French or anybody else’s.
Alan, I suppose I am as capable of double standards as the next man. However, as you mention BHS, I would point out that the media are making a great deal out of the financial activities of Philip Green’s wife at the very time that BHS was in difficulty.
If that sort of thing is apparently fair game, why is it not fair to say something about wives making money arguably on the back of their politician husbands’ political activities?
Two wrongs don’t….
Actually I’m much more interested in whether you agree with me that financial shenanigans are rife wherever you look in business, so that associated with energy is not atypical.
Talking of family connections, Penny Mordaunt is related to Terence Mordaunt, now chairman of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, and she has received donations from him and/or his (substantial) business interests. In June 2019 Revealed: Climate change denier makes big donations to Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt was not a headline I would have written or endorsed, given the ugly and defamatory d-word, but it has some interesting snippets. That’s from openDemocracy, who currently feature the strapline “Get dark money out of UK politics”. Well, quite. But there are double standards through all this, as Mark points out very well.
Alan, yes and no. I spent the bulk of my working life in commerce and industry, and can honestly say that I saw no financial shenanigans. Had I done so, I would have left (after having blown the whistle, I hope).
Having said that, I suspect financial impropriety is, sadly, fairly widespread. Not that my article imputes financial impropriety to anyone.
The nub of my complaint is that politicians and others can safely and properly claim to be acting within the rules (and thus to have done nothing wrong) in circumstances where I think the rules should be much tighter.
I don’t think it’s enough to declare interests in a register. I think that there should be neither conflict nor appearance of conflict if the public is to be reassured that politicians act only in what they believe to be our interests.
Richard, thank you for that information.
It all leads in to another debate, doesn’t it? Should political parties be banned from receiving donations, and a system put in place whereby they receive a certain amount (strictly limited, in my view) from the taxpayer? Of course, neither Labour nor Tories are likely to be happy about that, since they both receive substantial sums from unions and business respectively. Some donors will genuinely just wish to support a cause in which they believe, of course, but poor old joe public (I’ve used lower case, to avoid confusion with our commenter) might be forgiven for thinking that in some cases there’s no smoke without fire.
Clearly that is a hollow threat, because to follow through on that would be self-destructive. But it isn’t the kind of thing you threaten your friends with (in this instance, over a few disgruntled fishermen without the proper documentation). Nevertheless, we would be foolish to rely on such friends as these, whether the tether binding us was put in place by a Russian kleptocrat or a saint.
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Brilliant article – the kind of thing the Sunday Times or Guardian would have published on their front page once upon a time.
Why should they receive anything at all from the taxpayer? And how much should they receive, compared to – for example – the Monster Raving Loony Party? As you say, there’s nothing illegal about receiving money from a British resident Russian millionaire – and there’s so many of them to choose from – all living tax free in London thanks to generous laws enacted by the Tory government, so they can spend the money they creamed off the collapse of the Soviet Union, at a time when hundreds of thousands of their impoverished citizens were dying from suicide and alcoholism under a government put in place by the CIA (according to Time Magazine.) And they’ll have so much to teach us in the forthcoming economic crisis.
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.. or Matt Hancock, whose girlfriend’s father is in pharmaceuticals, while her brother does PR for pharmaceutical companies. The difference being that there’s no suggestion that Matt’s future father-in-law got into pharmaceuticals thanks Matt’s influence..
I once read a book about life in the Kremlin under Stalin. The Central Committee really took the Beltway swamp / Westminster bubble principle to extremes, since they all lived in the same building. The wife of one of Stalin’s closest allies decided she wanted to have a career (as a teacher or engineer – I can’t remember) but she never managed to pass the exams. Say what you like about life in Stalin’s Russia, but there was a Kiplingesque sense of fair play in operation. You might get a rival and his family shot or sent to the Gulag, but couldn’t pull strings to get a leg up for a spouse. How different from Great Build Back Better Britain.
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Geoff, thank you for the kind comment.
At the risk of sounding as though I simply agree with the last person I spoke to (or the last person whose comment I read), I have long had reservations about funding political parties from taxation, but I fear that it might be the only answer to political corruption (or the appearance of corruption).
All political parties seem to be as bad as each other. Remember when Labour said they would clean things up after the years of “Tory sleaze” and put in rules about the need to declare donations? They immediately put their energies into receiving loans with no repayment date on them. Simples – it was only donations, not loans, that needed to be declared under the legislation.
If political funding (with strict limits imposed) is the only way to stop politicians doing what politicians do, then reluctantly I feel it might have to be the answer. Of course, that way we might end up with the worst of all possible worlds – cost to the taxpayer, plus funds still finding their way from outside interests into political coffers.
After all, Lloyd George sold Honours to fund his political war chest. Everyone agreed that was wrong, and they passed an Act of Parliament to prevent the sale of honours. A century later, can anyone genuinely say that much has really changed?
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Jit, the revealing thing about the French threat is that it is a real threat, with clout. And yet I thought the interconnectors are supposed to be a brilliant in-win, allowing us to export our electricity to the continent when we have a surplus, and importing it when we have a shortfall. The only problem with that is that we seem to be importing huge amounts and exporting little more than an occasional dribble, because the very times when we have a surplus (because the wind is blowing) is when western Europe also has a surplus (because the wind is blowing there too).
Our energy system is increasingly a shambles, and Boris just committed to making it worse. I suppose the French threat might make it easier for the Tories to turn down the application by their Russian friends for a new interconnector to France, and say that it’s the unreliability of the French that’s behind the refusal, and that it’s nothing to do with the fuss over the Pandora Papers….
Quote: “Clearly that is a hollow threat, because to follow through on that would be self-destructive.”
And surely the interconnectors were put in place for common sense / practical reasons on technical grounds to allow for short-term peaks in demand that could not be reasonably planned for in our own capacity, and of course work in both directions.
They weren’t there to make up for fundamental/systemic gaps in our capacity due to the fond hopes of the green movement being swallowed whole by the technically clueless, and the phobia around nuclear power.
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Quote: “After all, Lloyd George sold Honours to fund his political war chest. Everyone agreed that was wrong, and they passed an Act of Parliament to prevent the sale of honours. A century later, can anyone genuinely say that much has really changed?”
Not really. Personally, I’d get rid of the honours system and the House of Lords. However, that would only really be tackling some of the symptoms, and not the root corruption which seems always to be around, wherever great power and large amounts of money are involved.
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Mike, my dim memory of the origin of the first interconnector was that it was for use at peak times, which because they were temporally out of sync in France and the UK, meant that we could send them power for their peak, and they could return the favour for our peak a bit later. If that is true (my memory might be faulty on this), then their role has bloomed magnificently.
Re: House of Lords, my preferred option would be to cut it to 300 elected members (first past the post), the constituency of each would be equivalent to two current parliamentary constituencies (cutting the number of MPs to 600). The upper house elections would be out of sync with HoC’s. Obviously this scheme has the benefit of excluding all the cronies and parasites, but there might also be members with useful knowledge (i.e. with experience outside politics) who would also be cast out.
Mike Ellwood says:
“Not really. Personally, I’d get rid of the honours system and the House of Lords. However, that would only really be tackling some of the symptoms, and not the root corruption which seems always to be around, wherever great power and large amounts of money are involved.”
I would much rather see the lobbying power of the ‘green’ NGOs seriously curtailed. After all, while they all have seemingly innocuous names, their funding is so obfuscated that it is almost impossible to tell exactly who they really represent.
My slow but steady disillusionment with the Labour Party, resulting in my not renewing my membership many years back, saw a number of events influencing how I felt. A botched reform of the House of Lords, which increasingly resembles a retirement home for ex-MPs and a sinecure for cronies; saying they would clean up the donations scandal, while accepting loans with no fixed repayment dates, so that they didn’t have to be declared; banning cigarette advertising from sporting events, then making an exception for Formula 1 – coincidence that Bernie Eccleston had just made a large donation? Climate Change Act. By the time of the Iraq war I was already fed up with them. They’re every bit as sleazy as the Tories, I’m afraid.
What’s the answer? I don’t know, but I would actively reform the House of Lords and make it elected. I like the idea of the elections to it being on a different basis and on a different cycle to those for the House of Commons. Lobbying needs to be controlled much more strictly. Ideally I would say it should be banned, but then there will always be plausible and reasonable arguments for exceptions. We really need to do something about political party fund-raising. As I seek to argue in Pandora’s Box, I don’t think disclosure is enough. It won’t stop people buying influence, however much it is denied.
Mark: ‘A botched reform of the House of Lords…’
Oooh, does this mean that I get to rant about Baron Stevenson of Coddenham, the enormously snobbish and conceited bafflegab merchant who was given a peerage by Tony Blair and, despite hardly ever visiting the House of Lords, put in charge of New Labour’s ‘people’s peers’ nonsense, during which he said that hairdressers could not be considered because they could not be human beings who would feel at home in the Lords (I bet they’d turn up more often than he ever has), and who was paid nearly £1 million a year to oversee the near-collapse of HBOS and hid behind weasel words and claims about depression when challenged about his culpability for the near-collapse, but whose depression hasn’t stopped him being an active investor in dodgy jatropha and fishing schemes in West Africa?
OK. I won’t, then.
PS: And who lied about his HBOS bonuses? I forgot to mention that I won’t be ranting about that.
Allegedly, Vinny, allegedly.
Sorry, yes, allegedly.
Many thanks. 🙂
Back on the subject of interconnectors and dependence on foreigners, given the furore about our over-reliance on eastern Europeans to do just about everything for us, it seems, you might think it would dawn on those in charge that over-reliance on foreigners to supply us with our power (whether electricity via an interconnector or gas from Russia) isn’t the brightest way to run things.
It seems that Putin now has western Europe exactly where he wants it:
“UK gas prices fall from record high after Russia steps in”
“UK wholesale gas prices hit a record high before falling after Russia said it was boosting supplies to Europe.
Russia President Vladimir Putin appeared to calm the market after gas prices had risen by 37% in 24 hours to trade at 400p per therm on Wednesday.
UK gas was 60p per therm at the start of the year, but high global demand and reduced supply has driven prices up.
The high cost of wholesale gas has seen several UK energy firms collapse and halted production across industries.
Following Mr Putin’s comments on supplies, gas prices dropped to about 257p a therm later on Wednesday.
Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said the changing gas prices underlined the “volatility in the market and the nervousness amongst investors about low stockpiles of gas across Europe”.
“When Putin’s promises help calm the storm of rising prices which was pummelling financial markets, it’s clear investors are desperate for any gust of good news blowing in,” she said.”
Of course, if we utilised our own gas that greens won’t allows us to frack for, things might be different….
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not picking on the BBC but that’s the news I tend to watch, from Mark’s comment above ““volatility in the market and the nervousness amongst investors about low stockpiles of gas across Europe” never seems to be reported to the public !!!
may be wrong, think I heard a 5 second “it’s not just the UK problem” once & they never explained why the stockpiles of gas across Europe are so low !!!
goggle gave me this link – https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-09-27/europe-s-energy-crisis-is-about-to-go-global-as-gas-prices-soar
snippet – ”
Nations are more reliant than ever on natural gas to heat homes and power industries amid efforts to quit coal and increase the use of cleaner energy sources. But there isn’t enough gas to fuel the post-pandemic recovery and refill depleted stocks before the cold months. Countries are trying to outbid one another for supplies as exporters such as Russia move to keep more natural gas home. The crunch will get a lot worse when temperatures drop”
I hope a cold winter prospect may act as a cold shower to some COP delegates.
Was it a poster on here that mentioned the German’s being advised to heat by candle power ?
I laughed at the time, not any more.
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“French villagers bid to stop Tory donor Aquind laying cable under Channel
Energy firm and director Alexander Temerko have given £1.1m between them to Conservatives”
“French mayors and residents along the Normandy coast are campaigning to block a project for a cross-Channel electricity cable backed by a Ukrainian-born businessman who has donated hundreds of thousands of pounds to the Conservative party.
Kwasi Kwarteng, Britain’s business secretary, is due to decide this week on whether to give the go-ahead to a £1.2bn project for the 148-mile cable between Normandy and Hampshire. The firm says the link, which will run through Portsmouth, could supply up to 5% of Britain’s electricity needs.
Opposition MPs have highlighted more than £1m in donations given to the Conservatives by the company, Aquind, and one of its directors, Alexander Temerko, a British industrialist born in Ukraine.
Labour says the project is “mired by cronyism”. That allegation is strongly denied by the firm, which says the scheme can play a vital role in helping to secure Britain’s energy supply.
The project faces strong opposition in Portsmouth from the council and campaigners, who say it will have a detrimental impact on the city and cause widespread disruption.”
I repeat – oh for this level of opposition to wind farms.
“Aquind is the subsidiary of a Luxembourg-based company, Aquind Energy. Company filings say the company’s “persons of significant control” are the Russian-born oil businessman Viktor Fedotov and Temerko, a prominent Conservative supporter. The UK firm has donated more than £430,000 to the party. Temerko, a director of the company, has donated more than £700,000.
Lord Callanan, the minister for business, energy and corporate responsibility, is a former director of Aquind, standing down in June 2017. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy says he will have no role in the decision over the project.
Stephen Morgan, MP for Portsmouth South, said: “Aquind would cause devastating disruption to Portsmouth, the most densely populated city after London. Roads, parks and the precious natural environment would be ripped up. Residents will face noise, dust and huge traffic problems. This national infrastructure project has been mired by cronyism.”
Aquind says all its donations to the Conservatives were properly made and have been legally declared. It does not consider the removal of the project from the European list of projects of common interest is an obstacle to securing the relevant permissions.
The company said in a statement: “The French planning process is ongoing, and the project continues to engage with all relevant parties and authorities.”
“Aquind cross-Channel cable permission refused by government”
“The UK government has refused permission for a £1.2bn electricity link between England and France.
Aquind Ltd wanted to lay cables through Portsmouth, Hampshire, to Normandy.
But a decision notice posted on the government’s website said Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng was not satisfied “more appropriate alternatives to the proposed route” had been fully considered.
Aquind said it was “disappointed” and would consider a legal challenge….
…The decision letter said the project’s “proposed landfall in an urban location” was of particular concern to Mr Kwarteng.
It said: “The Secretary of State considers that in the circumstances of this particular application it is exceptionally necessary to consider whether sufficient consideration has been given to whether there are more appropriate alternatives to the proposed route.”…”.
The moral of the story? These things only receive permission in remote places where there aren’t too many voters able to retaliate at the next election.
Lord Callanan was featured in the above article and comments. This is Andrew Montford’s tweet about him this week:
A belated update to this story:
“Aquind: Government loses bid to block cross-Channel electricity cable”