Andrea Leadsom is the new(ish) Business Secretary. Which means that, amongst other things, she oversees energy policy in the UK under Al “Boris” Johnson.
For a few months when David Cameron was Prime Minister, she was the junior energy minister in charge. One consistent line she has taken is to be strenuously in favour of gas and gas-fired power stations.
As Business Secretary, she has just taken the most unusual step of overturning a ruling from the government-appointed Planning Inspectorate. Mrs Loathsome (as Private Eye unkindly call her) has approved four new gas-fired turbines at the Drax power station in Yorkshire.
The Planning Inspectorate had taken Mrs L at her word when she had earlier maintained that the UK economy would contain net zero carbon emissions by 2050, and had vetoed Drax’s proposals on climate grounds. Her decision to totally ignore her own Inspectorate suggests the government is not serious in her pledge, as the plant is estimated to be producing as much as 75% of all the permissible CO2 projected for the electricity sector by that point.
But Mrs Loathsome has form in trying to face two ways. When a junior minister for energy, she made headlines by writing a blog on the government website in 2014, arguing that massive amounts of gas fracking was essential because of the continuing increase in demand for natural gas in Britain. Somehow or other she omitted to notice that gas sales had fallen by almost one-third over the previous decade, and demand remains low today.
Yet another politician who seems to believe that, if she closes her eyes to the facts for long enough, the facts will miraculously align with her prejudices. But they won’t, Mrs L. They won’t.