By Martin Kelly
A former Tory Energy Minister has caused controversy after becoming the chairman of a leading wind energy company months after leaving his government post.
Charles Hendry walked into the lucrative role as the chairman of the wind energy giants Forewind. The company comprises four international companies – Scottish and Southern, RWE, Statoil and Statkraf.
However it has emerged that between June 2010 and October 2011 Hendry met six times with the representatives of the companies that make up Forewind. In 2010, the company was awarded the contract to build the huge “Dogger Bank” windfarm 125 kilometres off the Yorkshire coast.
The SNP described the revelation, which comes just one week after Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson called for planning restrictions on wind generators, as hypocritical and embarrassing.
Ms Davidson’s Deputy Murdo Fraser is also a long term critic of windfarms. Speaking last month he attacked the Scottish government’s policy on wind generators.
He said: “The Scottish Government must realise that the decisions they make on wind energy effects everyone in Scotland, from the rural resident whose community is blighted by these structures to the urban family who witness a dramatic increase in their heating and lighting bills.
“There must be a reassessment of energy policy in light of the sheer number of Scots struggling to pay bills. As well as the Scottish Government’s commitment to green energy we must see a commitment to cheaper energy, until that is realised businesses and families will continue to suffer.”
Commenting, SNP MSP Chic Brodie, who sits on the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee, said:
“What an embarrassment for the Tories. Their former energy minister has now landed a plum job with a huge renewable energy operation.
“Scotland’s renewables industry has huge potential particularly offshore and is helping to bring in investment and create jobs. Everyone knows this is the case, including, clearly, Mr Hendry.
“It says nothing for the Tories’ business credentials that Murdo Fraser wants to drive wind energy producers out of Scotland by making it more profitable for them to operate south of the border.
“It is ridiculous that Tory MSPs are happy to personally profit from windfarm development – and clearly see the longterm advantages in this industry – whilst their party tries to deprive the rest of Scotland of the economic benefits that could come.
“The Tories preference of nuclear power is only possible with eye-watering levels of subsidy attached, either from taxpayers or through consumer power bills. With new nuclear energy actually set to cost the public significantly more per megawatt than wind energy, the last thing that people need in these difficult times is to be lumbered with the bill for a Tory nuclear white elephant.”