Boris Johnson will today pledge that every home in the country will be powered by offshore wind within 10 years, as he commits to a green industrial revolution that will create hundreds of thousands of jobs.
A noble cause indeed. But not one the PM has always been an advocate of. In fact, he’s positively ridiculed wind power on a number of occasions.
Speaking to the Conservative conference, Johnson will say: “I remember how some people used to sneer at wind power, 20 years ago, and say that it wouldn’t pull the skin off a rice pudding.”
And it’s no surprise he can remember it, because it was him saying it. In 2013 while Mayor of London, he said: “Labour put in a load of wind farms that failed to pull the skin off a rice pudding.”
“We now have the opportunity to get shale gas – let’s look at it. It is part of the 2020 vision we have for this city – power generation is vital.”
Johnson also dismissed a call to divest £4.8bn pension fund from oil, coal and gas saying UK needs fracking to avoid relying on energy imports.
Shale gas has since failed to take off but Johnson never failed to grasp an opportunity to knock renewable energy.
Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds an electric vehicle charging cable during a visit to the headquarters of Octopus Energy in London.
Later in 2013, he wrote a column for The Sun on Sunday titled “Turbines won’t do job.. let’s go nuclear, in which he described wind farms as a “disease” that have blighted Britain’s countryside and the UK should instead, you guessed it, embrace fracking.
“It is a good 20 years since I last drove all the way to Scotland and in the interim something unbelievable has been done — in our name — to our green, pleasant and precious countryside. I mean the windmills, the turbines… whatever they are called,” he wrote.
“I mean the things that look like some hideous Venusian invasion, marching over the moors and destroying the dales. The colossal seaside toys plonked erratically across our ancient landscape.“
But today all that will be forgotten as he embraces renewables.
The PM will say the coronavirus crisis should be used as a catalyst to make the UK world leader in clean power generation.
The wind power plan will see £160m made available to upgrade ports and infrastructure across areas like Teesside and Humber in northern England, Scotland and Wales as the next generation of turbines are built.
Downing Street said the investment programme “will see around 2,000 construction jobs rapidly created and will enable the sector to support up to 60,000 jobs directly and indirectly by 2030 in ports, factories and the supply chains, manufacturing the next-generation of offshore wind turbines and delivering clean energy to the UK”.