Earlier this week a leaflet was pushed through my door. “Your bills are too high…”, it said, “to ban the cheapest source of power”. The cheapest source of power, it transpires, is onshore wind, at least according to the people behind the leaflet. Except that when I turned the leaflet over to read on (it’s a single sheet of paper, with writing on the front and the back) they seemed to have doubts. After a banner headline (“Drop the ban on onshore wind turbines”) it goes on to say that “Onshore wind is one of the cheapest and cleanest forms of energy available…” [my emphasis]. So not the cheapest, after all. But then we already know that.
Nevertheless, I was told that “[i]nstead of creating energy here in England, we’re paying sky-high bills and lining Putin’s pockets buying foreign gas.”
Just how much spin is it possible to include in one short leaflet? After all, I’m not sure how buying gas abroad is lining Putin’s pockets if we’re not buying it from Russia. Though I do agree that it doesn’t make sense to be reliant on gas from abroad when we could be using our own, which makes it all the more ironic that the leaflet is upset about what it calls an “effective ban” on wind farms in England, when perhaps it would make more sense to be upset about the ban on fracking for gas. And it’s that “English” ban that is behind the leaflet, despite the name of the organisation that sent it to me, because presumably its OK for wind farms to be plastered all over Scotland in the teeth of local opposition, while allowing English protestors to have rights is apparently a bad thing.
They go on to say:
By building new onshore wind farms in England, we can bring down bills, create jobs and stop importing foreign gas.”
Unfortunately they don’t explain how, and no references are made to anything backing up their claims. Without more ado I am simply invited to sign their petition by scanning the QR code on the leaflet.
The organisation behind the leaflet is called Britain Remade, and it has a website which opens with an invitation to join its campaign – a campaign, supposedly, “to get Britain back to what it’s good at”. It’s more than a little ironic, given the implicit hostility to fossil fuels and its desire to see lots and lots of English wind turbines, that the website tells us:
It wasn’t always like this [expensive to live in Britain, rubbish jobs]. British science and engineering shaped the modern world. We built the first railways, first coal-fired power station, and split the atom. Life got better in Britain because of it.
Maybe we should rely on good old reliable fossil fuels and nuclear power then? Just a thought…After all, they do say “Let’s get back to what we’re good at.”
But I digress. Given that Britain Remade claims the right to “advocate on your [that’s your and my] behalf” just who exactly is Britain Remade? To find out I turned to the “about” section of the website. First of all they tell us what they’re not – they’re not a political party. Rather:
We’re a new independent grassroots organisation. We are not affiliated with, or part of, any political party.
Sources of funding always interest me, since they usually tell us a lot about who is behind an organisation that is coy about telling you who or what it is. And so it proves here:
Whilst it is a long-term ambition for the campaign, Britain Remade is not currently able to accept grassroots funding.
At this time, Britain Remade is funded by grants from a range of organisations, that include European Climate Foundation, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, and Quadrature Climate Foundation.
As for who they are (are they a limited company? A charity? They don’t say), about the most they are prepared to share with us is the identity of their Campaign Director/CEO; Head of Campaigns; and Head of Policy. Respectively, those gentlemen are Sam Richards (a former special advisor at No.10 Downing Street, where until recently he worked on energy and the environment, and is a passionate advocate for clean growth across the UK); Jeremy Driver (Jeremy has extensive experience in delivering policy change, campaigning across grassroots, policy and politics); and Sam Dumitriu (Before joining Britain Remade, he worked at a range of Westminster think tanks covering topics including immigration, technology, and education). And that’s it.
Visiting their Twitter account and LinkedIn page doesn’t tell me much more either. I still don’t know who they are, but a little digging on the internet provided an article in November 2022 on the Business Green website which is headlined “‘Britain Remade’: New campaign launched to accelerate UK green growth”. Sadly, I can’t see much more without signing up. If Guido Fawkes is correct Britain Remade may simply be a vehicle for the aforementioned three gentlemen. As Guido puts it:
A former Boris SpAd, an ex-ASI wonk and a popular SW1 policy bod have joined forces to launch a new campaign to push for policies that will boost growth.
Guido seems supportive. Given the spin in the leaflet and on the website, the lack of any references to justify the claims, and their sources of funding, I am not anything like so enthusiastic.
That leaflet imploring “Drop the ban on onshore wind turbines” obviously wasn’t written by the BBC’s (now ex-) Energy & Enviro correspondent.
In his “MPs criticise government clean energy policies” dated 16th May 2018, he wrote about there being “a ban on new onshore wind farms”
Nowadays, readers returning to his story and scrolling to the very end learn:
“Correction 1 August 2018: An earlier version of this article said that the government had introduced a ban on onshore windfarms. This was amended to refer to an “effective” ban and amended again on 26 July to clarify changes in policy since the article was published.
A complaint about the inaccuracy was upheld by the BBC’s Executive Complaints Unit.”
Poor Mr Harrabin – being forced to ‘correct’ his story, and then suffering the ignominy of being forced to correct his ‘correction’.
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Joe, an excellent capture, thanks for sharing.
The reality is that numbers of new onshore wind turbines in England has plummeted since the planning guidance was changed, but I obviously (obviously given my opposition to making the country dependent on unreliable, expensive, grid-disrupting, nature-destroying turbines) think that’s a good thing. More to the point, isn’t it good that developers can’t just ride roughshod over locals any more?
Many in Scotland, where riding roughshod is rampant, are calling for Scottish planning laws to be amended to reflect those in England. How bizarre, then, that some campaigners want to make English planning laws reflect those in blighted Scotland.
But you’re right, there is no ban in England on onshore turbines, nor arguably even an effective ban. It’s another example (like wind being 9 x cheaper than gas) of a sound bite that doesn’t tell the truth rapidly becoming embedded in net zero “culture”.
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This makes me wonder what Cliscep would put on a leaflet if we wished to convert the UK populace to our way of thinking. An interesting thought experiment. One side could be a slogan to put in the window, e.g. “No to Net Zero. No to National Suicide.” The other might be a very brief explanation of how expensive, unnecessary, futile and self-destructive Net Zero actually is.
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“How bizarre, then, that some campaigners want to make English planning laws reflect those in blighted Scotland.”
It’s also bizarre that those in England who wish to demand our countryside be ‘blighted’ by massive turbines in the ‘national energy interest’ were quite happy to ignore those same arguments when exploiting our shale-gas reserves was being considered.
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Jit, here’s a suggestion for the other side of your leaflet:
Hmm … a bit long?
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So, from what I can see, they are not a political party but a party of political people pushing policy. Well, as long as we’ve got that straight.
As for our own sloganing, I think repetition always works. So how about: “Unwelcome, Unachievable and Unnecessary “?
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Joe Public, yesterday at 10.41am. I agree, but in fairness, I can’t complain about wind farms being foisted on communities which don’t want them, then argue that fracking should be foisted on communities that don’t want it. That said, you’re right – the net zero fanatics only care about what a community wants when the community agrees with them.
Sam Richards is putting himself about a bit. No wonder Boris Johnson’s energy policy was so awful:
“Boris Johnson’s climate adviser backs Labour’s energy security strategy
Exclusive: No 10 adviser Sam Richards lends support to drive for energy independence and planning reform”
I think it’s extremely worrying that people with such views are special advisers to politicians who make serious decisions. What are his qualifications? Who elected him? Why did the taxpayer pay his wages?
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