I know every square inch of Tunbridge Wells like the back of my hand. From Southborough to North Farm, from Bidborough Ridge to Benhall Mill; from the Pantiles to Calverley Gardens, from Langton Green to Hawkenbury; there’s not a single street in the town I don’t know. Further afield, I also know my way around all the outlying villages and hamlets. Drop me off in Lamberhurst and I’d be able to get to Speldhurst with no map and no compass!
I only mention this so that Greg Clark, MP for the Kentish spa town, understands that I know his patch better than he does. And I genuinely believe that, hand on heart. Were someone to hand both Mr Clark and myself a pen and a paper, and ask us both to draw a map of the borough of Tunbridge Wells, mine would wipe the floor with his.
One thing I can also tell you is this: there ain’t a single wind turbine in the entirety of Tunbridge Wells.
You have to travel miles and miles to see them. People in “Royal” Tunbridge Wells live in a different universe from the turbine-ravaged towns of Rochdale and Halifax. So, if it’s true that Greg Clark has signalled his approval of wind turbines through the back door, this would mark him as literally the ultimate NIMBY, someone prepared to inflict wind blight on other communities, just as long as it’s nowhere near The Wells!
Furthermore, Greg Clark could well be an example of a Dishonest Banana. Remember, a Dishonest Banana is someone who, in their heart, knows exactly how unpleasant wind blight is, but they’re not upfront about their true knowledge of the hurt they are causing. This is implied by the “back door” through which this latent support for wind schemes has allegedly been sneaked.
The latest message I received from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy contrasted sharply from their rather more constructive reply of a few months ago. And so I reach out, in the spirit of free speech and the right to reply, and directly offer Mr Clark or his office the opportunity to set us all straight and to explain exactly what is going on.
I’ve said before that when confronted with an angry man, good customer service involves calming them down, working through their anger and leaving them satisfied that their issues are well on their way to being resolved. The absolute worst thing you can do with someone angry is to stonewall or gaslight them – you’ll take someone who was moderately angry and you’ll amplify their anger to a state of cold, vengeful rage.
Unfortunately the above email did not answer the direct question of whether the allegations about the sneaky return of wind subsidies are true. Sadly, one is left with the impression that they are.
“It’s not me that’s changed. It’s you.”
The tone and content of my email was much the same as my previous message of a few months ago: unashamedly angry, worried, frantic and in need of reassurance that the Government had taken on board the very real impacts of wind blight. In fact most of my message was simply my preceding blog entry repeated verbatim.
The last time I emailed the BEIS, they managed to reassure me by spelling out in black and white that the Conservatives were opposed to the expansion of our onshore wind infrastructure (their use of the word “onshore” clearly meant to give a free pass to offshore wind farms).
So, Mr Clark, the floor is yours. Are you a man or a mouse? Are you going to scurry back to Tunbridge Wells, hiding in the shadows with your head down, which would be TERRIBLE for your mental health and well-being, or are you going to step out into the light and talk openly and honestly about your policies?
As I have said before, it is perfectly possible to stand up proudly for “green” schemes, if you genuinely believe in them and are prepared to fight your corner. I call this being a Lime – green on the outside, green on the inside. If you believe in your wind turbines, make the case for them, win over the critics, take sceptical people like me with you on the journey. Your very reticence and furtiveness makes it look like you’re ashamed or guilty of some kind of chicanery.
Back door schemes WILL wear you down, Mr Clark, they will gradually eat away at your vitality and leave you feeling grey, haggard and weary. Why slowly kill yourself and destroy the countryside, simply to make money for a bunch of unsavoury wind scammers? Why fuck up the Conservative Party any more than the slow motion car-crash it has already become in the two short years since I described you guys as “the adults in the room”? I wish my friend Sajid Javid would knock some sense into your head.
I’m on my way to Tunbridge Wells tomorrow. I will be down there for a few days. I may even pay you a visit so we can chat face-to-face. After all, you’d certainly be welcome at mine. Despite my distinct lack of trust towards your best intentions, I’d warmly welcome you for a meal and a glass of wine (though I’m not sure I’d turn my back on you for too long, just in case you sneaked my TV out “through the back door”). Would you welcome me to yours? Would you be as hospitable and open to dialogue with me as I am with you?
If you’d like a chat so my readers are given the true facts about what exactly your party is up to, then reach out. Or, if you’d prefer a neutral space, I can highly recommend a lovely pint of Kentish ale at The Peacock Inn, Goudhurst!
EDIT 25/7/19: This must rank as one of the most rapidly dated blog posts I’ve ever written. Exactly one month after writing, and Mr Clark has been replaced at the BEIS by Andrea Leadsom. As I know how much they enjoy receiving my letters, I thought it fair to offer a note of congratulations to the incoming Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy:
I would like to follow up my email of one month ago, addressing allegations that Greg Clark MP intended to reintroduce wind subsidies “through the back door”, with a message congratulating Andrea Leadsom on her appointment as the new leader of the BEIS. I have every confidence that Mrs Leadsom will be truly superb in her role, and I would like to wish her all the best in her appointment.
I would just remind you of Mrs Leadsom’s famous quote from 2016: “I conclude that the benefits of onshore wind have been hugely exaggerated by the developers who stand to make huge sums from the taxpayer incentives… It used to be the case that criticising onshore wind energy led to being denounced as a ‘climate change deniier’. I sincerely hope those days are over.”
I trust this sensible attitude will continue under Mrs Leadsom’s leadership of the department.
Finally, should the BEIS require any information about wind energy’s impact on the UK, please do get in touch, as I would be happy to offer my extensive knowledge of the geography and hydrology of the UK, and how these are impacted upon by inappropriate wind development. If you ever require more information about wind energy, I freely volunteer my services.