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Green Lobbying Scandal: Tim Yeo Slams Lord Deben On Conflict of Interest

David Rose, Mail on Sunday

A Tory MP has complained about a government global-warming adviser’s undisclosed green interests – despite the fact he himself is paid a fortune by eco-energy and transport firms.

Tim Yeo, chairman of the Energy and Climate Change select committee, has protested about Lord Deben remaining chairman of Veolia Water UK while also chairing the Committee on Climate Change, an independent body that advises the Government on the impact of climate change.

Mr Yeo’s critics will argue his protest smacks of hypocrisy as he has been paid more than £400,000 by three green companies since 2009.

Lord Deben, John Selwyn Gummer – who as Agriculture Minister in 1990 tried to persuade his daughter Cordelia to eat a hamburger during the BSE crisis – was required to undergo a ‘confirmation hearing’ before Yeo’s committee last September after being appointed chair of the Climate Change Committee.

At the time Lord Deben had stepped down from his job as chairman of Forewinds, a consortium set up to build a hugely subsidised windfarm, but he remained chairman of Veolia Water UK.

Asked at the hearing whether this could be a conflict of interest, Lord Deben said he had resigned  from all his energy business interests, adding: ‘If you look at what it [Veolia] does, it really has no connection at  all. And if I thought it even had a remote connection, I would make that change [resign].’

But, as this newspaper revealed in January, Veolia has a thriving eco business connecting windfarms to the National Grid.

Mr Yeo has set out his protest in a letter to Energy Secretary Mr Davey. He wrote: ‘The committee was given to understand that Veolia was not an energy company, and that Lord Deben would not retain links with energy companies .  .  . But, as is clear from Veolia’s website and annual report and accounts, the company has a significant role in the field of energy.’

Mr Yeo added: ‘The lack of clarity on this specific point has caused ongoing media criticism .  .  . the reassurances you have given are not sufficient to effectively address the perception of conflict of interest in the public domain.’

Mr Yeo has been paid £402,033.88 by three green companies since August 2009. He is paid many thousands more as a director of the Channel Tunnel Company.

The ‘Chunnel’ contains a cable whose purpose is to keep Britain’s lights on using French power if our own supply becomes inadequate following the shutdown of coal stations caused by green restrictions.

Lord Deben yesterday continued to insist he had ‘no dealings whatsoever’ with the Veolia division that dealt with energy. He added: ‘Since being made aware of this activity, I have ensured that I will never be involved, receive any papers, or participate in any way.’

Mail on Sunday, 9 June 2013