Lot of media coverage today of the letter sent to the Prime Minister asking for a reduction in the level of subsidy given to wind farm developers, and a rebalancing of planning rules in favour of those who oppose these monstrosities. 101 Conservatives have signed it, including the 3 Welsh Conservative MPs I share an office with, Guto Bebb, Alun Cairns and Simon Hart. This letter is only the latest step in the growing concern amongst MPs about what is becoming seen as a policy in drastic need of change.
Better give you some background to this letter. About two weeks ago, my colleague, Chris Heaton-Harris, Conservative MP for Daventry arranged an ad hoc meeting of Tory MPs. He and I were the 'top table' but Chris is very much the public face of this. He's extremely effective and respected (despite the fact that he's a soccer referee most weekends !) Mine is a support role. Almost 40 MPs turned up - more than we expected. It was agreed to write a letter to the Prime Minister outlining our concerns. Chris (and a few others) agreed to put the letter together, and last week it was placed before MPs asking for their support. 101 signing up was beyond anyone's wildest dreams. The scale of opposition and concern is even greater than we thought. A small number of Labour and Lib Dem MPs asked to sign up as well, though there has not been any real effort to take it cross party yet. That could well be the next step.
Some people have asked me why my name is not on the list. Problem for me is that I am a PPS, and we cannot vote against the Government, or sign petitions etc. that can be seen to oppose Gov't policy. Well, I can actually, but I would have to resign first. Chris discussed the position of PPSs with the Whip's Office, and it was agreed that I should write a personal letter to the Secretaries of State responsible for wind farms and planning, Chris Huhne and Eric Pickles. My letter was less 'general' and more related to my constituency, which it seems is acceptable. I sent my letters off last Wed, same day as multi signed letter was sent. Its not a secret letter, and I will post it on this blog as soon as I can (I just don't have a copy with me tonight).
The next step will be to build on the publicity attracted by the letter to the Prime Minister. I will not be at Westminster until late Tues, evening, but intend to discuss next steps with Chris H-H as soon as I can. From my perspective, we are making progress in saving our country from punishing the fuel poor, diminishing UK business competitiveness, undermining economic recovery, and ruining our landscapes.