Energy minister Charles Hendry has fallen victim to the government’s reshuffle today and will be replaced by Conservative MP John Hayes.
The appointment of Mr Hayes, in what is believed to be the only change in personnel at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, is likely to be seen as a contentious decision by many in the renewables industry due to his well-publicised past opposition to wind farms.
The MP for South Holland and the Deepings has been previously quoted describing wind farms as a “terrible intrusion on our flat fenland landscape” and labeled wind power as a failure in terms of its economic and environmental sustainability.
His reception has been mixed with the Renewable Energy Association hoping for a change in stance from the new minister whilst RenewablesUK welcomes the skills and experience Hayes will bring to the table from his previous role as minister for further education, skills and lifelong learning.
REA chief executive, Gaynor Hartnell, said: “Given John Hayes’ reported stance on energy subsidies, he might want to take a good hard look at energy policy in the round. We would be happy to meet with him to discuss the latest information on falling costs of renewables and increasing costs of other energy forms. We are about to embark on Electricity Market Reform, which will see just about every form of power generation subsidised.”
Jennifer Webber, RenewableUK’s director of external affairs, added: “Mr Hayes brings a wealth of experience from his previous role as minister for further education, skills and lifelong learning. We know that he already appreciates the importance of providing the right training for the skilled workforce of the future. Tens of thousands of those workers will be in the green energy sector, so Mr Hayes’ experience at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills will serve him in good stead as energy minister, and we look forward to working with him.
“His predecessor Charles Hendry made an outstanding contribution to the Department of Energy and Climate Change. He was instrumental in the setting up of the Offshore Wind Cost Reduction Task Force, and also played a key role in the particularly challenging task of drafting the Energy Bill.
“His successor will need to acquaint himself with this brief as swiftly as possible, as Electricity Market Reform must proceed without delay, so that future investment in wind and marine energy is not put at risk.”