John Hayes labels energy campaigners ‘bourgeois’
MP wants focus on power supply, not environment
Energy Minister John Hayes has claimed that energy campaigners concerned with protecting the environment are “bourgeois.”
The outspoken MP made the comments after one major campaigner claimed that biofuels are harmful to the environment and have an adverse impact on land that could otherwise be utilised for the production of food.
In an interview on BBC Radio 4′s Today programme, Sir David King, former chief scientific adviser to the government, argued that very few biofuels result in emissions reductions, while some have a deleterious effect on food supplies, such as palm oil.
‘Detached and bourgeois’
The energy minister was dismissive of these views, however, labelling Sir David’s comments “detached and kind of bourgeois,” claiming that the government instead needs to focus on ensuring that the UK has a sufficient power supply.
Mr Hayes added, “My principle responsibility is to keep the lights on and if the lights went off there would be no use in me saying ‘well, it was for the right reasons.’
“So, energy security is fundamental and that depends on a mix of kinds. Bioenergy is part of that – it’s only part of it.”
In the same week that 10 Downing Street was praised for boosting its energy efficiency and reducing its impact on the environment, Mr Hayes said that focusing too greatly on environmental concerns could lead to an energy crisis.
“I’m trying to do two jobs,” said the Conservative MP for South Holland and The Deepings. “I’m trying to make sure people get their power and light and heat they need, and I’m trying to reduce carbon emissions.”
“I’ve got to deal with the practicalities. This is about having a balanced policy, a balanced energy mix. We need a bit of gas, we need some renewables, we need nuclear; we need a mix because that guarantees sustainability.”
Mr Hayes is no stranger to controversy, last year clashing with Lib Dem energy secretary Ed Davey over the erection of windfarms across the UK countryside.
During a crucial point in the creation of the Energy Bill, the energy minister argued that windfarms were “peppering” the landscape, but his comments were rebuffed by Mr Davey, who said windfarms will play an essential role in boosting UK energy security and helping to meet climate change targets in the years ahead.
Mr Hayes’ stance on clean forms of energy does appear to have noticeably softened since then, however, as he told the Today programme that the coalition is focusing on meeting the required standards and carrying out “further work” to ensure the sources of bioenergy will be sustainable.
He concluded, “I’m very excited by the idea of energy from waste, if we can get our waste policy working with our energy policy that’s truly sustainable.”