Wednesday, 18 June 2008

News from the comfort zone

There are so many historic "firsts" in Welsh politics at times it's quite difficult for simple hacks like myself to keep up.

Today it was the turn of the Welsh Grand Committee to feel the hand of history on its shoulder.

This talking shop has been trying to make itself more relevant in the age of devolution. Today, for what I think is the first time, a Minister from a non-Welsh UK Government department came to speak to the committee.

Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks delivered a rather topical statement on energy needs, a day before he heads west to look at the site of the proposed Severn barrage.

Will the barrage ever be built? Preparatory work is going on at the moment to assess its environmental impact and cost.

Mr Wicks tried to re-assure sceptics that the project isn't a done deal - and that it could be ditched in a year if the case doesn't stack up.

"Our programme of work at the moment is to ensure that if in a year's time our initial assessments were showing that there was a big show-stopper, that this just wasn't on for environmental or economic reasons, we will stop it, we will stop it.

"We're are not saying we are going to do this and there's no doubt the environmental assessments need to be done very, very carefully and the issue of lagoons is being taken very very seriously."

Before the scheme's opponents get too excited, the Minister had some fierce words for the RSPB.

"I'm sometimes very sad when I heart that RSPB have already reacted against the Severn Barrage, as I have understood it, clearly not understanding that unless we are prepared to take some courageous action on climate change the devastation of species will be truly enormous.

"It is the duty of a sensible NGO (non-governmental organisation) supported by the public that occasionally they say yes to projects and not always seeking the comfort zone of saying no to a barrage, no to a windfarm, no to this, no to that.

"There needs to be a responsibility and a seriousness in all organisations, especially the environmental ones."

The RSPB has more than a million members. A brave choice of words, Minister, in the David Davis sense of bravery.

1 comment:

Matthew said...

Slagging off environmental NGOs is Malcolm Wicks's favourite sport at the moment - not just the RSPB.