Controversial wind farm talk for politicians called off last minute

A visual showing what the wind farm could look like in Jersey's waters. Members are due to debate the proposals soon. (37472479)

STATES officials have cancelled a controversial talk from an “energy expert” associated with a group that challenges mainstream policies around climate change that was due to take place in the Assembly building tomorrow morning.

In an email sent to States Members on Wednesday evening, and seen by the JEP, the Privileges and Procedures Committee chair Constable Karen Shenton-Stone said that the “strength of feeling” on the matter had led to requests to allow other groups to hold presentations in the building to offer countering views.

She added that no such presentations would be hosted until the newly-constituted PPC had considered policy guidelines on the use of the States building by external groups.

The recently-formed Jersey Climate Forum, which brands itself as a “climate watchdog”, is now seeking another location to hold their talk for Members.

The dispute over whether the talk should be held in the States Assembly building was initiated over the weekend, when Jersey Business promoted the Town Hall event taking place this evening on their website.

Dr John Constable’s talk is entitled “Lessons from Economic History – Can Wind and Solar Sustain a Modern Economy”.

Jersey Business defended the decision, saying its role in the event was “informational only” and that it endeavoured to “share a diverse range of events on our website, aiming for inclusivity while recognising our limitations in vetting every event”.

The taxpayer-funded arm’s-length organisation further encouraged Islanders to “do their research” and “engage with events that resonate with them”.

Islanders questioned whether Dr Constable should be billed as an “energy expert”, with some highlighting that his PhD was in English Literature and that he was energy editor of the Global Warming Policy Forum – which is under investigation by the UK Charities Commission for its “lobbying” activities.

Deputy Catherine Curtis then revealed that the Forum had organised for the same talk to take place in the States Assembly building exclusively for Members tomorrow morning.

She expressed concerns that the talk may “be based around fringe beliefs” and hosting it in the Assembly building would give “a certain legitimacy”.

Deputy Curtis, who has a degree in climate science, clarified that she was not interested in “shutting down debate” and supported different groups holding public meetings.

Her concern, she said, was that the Global Warming Policy Forum promote ideas that are “at odds with 97% of the world’s scientists” and that the group were being given “special access” to States Members.

In yesterday’s email to States Members, Mrs Shenton-Stone said: “The Greffier and I have received comments from Members and the public about the use of the States building and concerns have been expressed about the perceived validation of the views of Dr Constable in having him speak to Members in our parliament building.

“The strength of feeling about this has led to further requests to allow other groups to hold presentations in the Building to provide a counter-balance to the views which may be expressed.

“In the interests of fairness, I have requested that no such presentations be hosted until the newly constituted PPC has had a chance to consider policy guidelines on the use of the States building by external groups.”

She added that there was “value in Members hearing all sides of an argument to be able to make a reasoned and thoughtful decision on a topic” and said that they could still attend this evening’s talk.

Jersey Climate Forum chair Graeme Phipps wrote to Members later yesterday evening, informing politicians that he was seeking to book another room for the exclusive presentation to take place.

Mr Phipps, speaking to the JEP earlier this week, said: “The Jersey Climate Forum believes that not enough research into alternative sources of energy to suit Jersey’s needs has taken place for an informed decision to be made by the States Assembly.

He said that the presentations from “an acknowledged expert in energy provision” was designed to “aid States in their deliberations”.

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