Saturday, 15 June 2024


One of our Councillors, Brent Cheetham, has launched a campaign in favour of a proposal to site an Anaerobic Digestion plant in his area. The plant aims to turn waste into energy and non-chemical fertiliser. Unfortunately, the local parish council (run by conservatives) oppose the proposal and believe, as Brent stated in a recent letter, that (the plant) to be some kind of ‘baby-eating fire-breathing moloch of biblical times.’ It looks as if David Cameron’s ‘Green agenda’ has not been embraced by the rank & file

Cllr Brent Cheetham

Cllr Brent Cheetham

We in the National Liberal party have made our pro-green views and our support for the decentralisation of economic and political power, quite clear. We have not been fooled therefore by the Conservatives ‘conversion’ to a green agenda and their much vaunted Localism bill.

To illustrate our concerns, I will highlight a local example of their actions not matching the words.

In my Hertfordshire parish of Northaw and Cuffley there is a proposal for an anaerobic digestion plant. The parish is staunchly Conservative (I am the only non-Tory councillor) and is home to their ex-Chairman, Cecil Parkinson. Some local farmers have proposed placing an Eco-friendly Anaerobic Digestion plant, shielded by trees, on the very edge of the parish. Such plants have been supported by environmentalists and those of a green orientation for over 20 years. They basically convert waste foods into a chemical free fertilizer, whilst supplying energy to the national grid. There are many benefits e.g. reducing methane emission from landfill sites, reducing reliance of fossil fuels, reducing or eliminating the energy footprint of waste treatment plants, displacing industrially produced chemical fertilizers, reducing vehicle movements and reducing electrical grid transportation losses.

Anaerobic digestion plants are also recognized by the United Nations Development Programme as one of the most useful decentralized sources of energy supply. Such plants have been operating safely in Europe for over two decades; Germany alone has over 2,500 all doing their small bit for the environment. We in the UK however, are very much behind the rest of the world when it comes to green issues and “AD” plants are only just beginning to be built in any numbers.

Bearing this in mind and Conservative Central Office keenness to extol their green credentials, you would have thought that local Tories would welcome such a proposal with open arms? Not a bit of it!

The local parish council, of which I am a member, is led by an ageing Tory ‘Grandee’ who also happens to be a Tory district councillor on Welwyn and Hatfield council, and has opposed the plant being built. Their reasons range from safety, to health to ascetic issues, none of which can be supported by scientific evidence.

Given this opposition, I e-mailed Charles Walker, Conservative MP for Broxbourne, to ask for his support for this green initiative. I asked Mr Walker whether we could count on his support for renewable energy supplies, such as anaerobic digesters. I stated that “I understand that the government has a target for energy supplies to be supported by 15% from renewable sources. As no doubt you are aware, anaerobic digesters are seen as being very green orientated and also supply chemical free fertilizers. I will not bore you with the other green benefits such plants attract, as I am sure you already have the details to hand PS did you know your nick names is “Charlie boy” or “Charles the boy walker “? Charles Walker responded “I have my concerns about the viability of green energy, preferring the nuclear option myself “ I replied “I feel a new nickname coming on, “ MR RADIOACTIVE” sorry could not resist that one ha ha!” to which he e-mailed back “such a nickname could prove toxic !”

Banter apart, grass roots Tories and at least one top spokesman, do not even support their own head office policy on green issues. If the government cannot even carry their own party on these issues, what hope can we all have for future?

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