Environment Minister Sammy Wilson has banned government television adverts in Northern Ireland warning of the effects of climate change, it emerged today.
The DUP man said he was not prepared to allow “insidious New Labour propaganda” about the impact of climate change which would have been screened on UTV.
“It was the sheer arrogance of them saying ‘we are doing this’ and yet they have had no consultation with my Department whatsoever. This is a devolved responsibility so they were also wrong constitutionally,” he said.
Mr Wilson said the adverts attempted to tell people that simple measures like changing their lightbulbs and turning off TVs from stand-by mode could help prevent them “wrecking the world”.
He told the Belfast Telegraph: “The vast majority of people are not prepared to accept this view of life any more and are certainly not prepared to bear the massive financial consequences.”
The Minister said all the focus groups involved in producing the ads, which are also being shown on Channels Four and Five, and Sky, were based in England and he wrote to then Minister David Milliband to stress “hands off Northern Ireland”.
“Since then, the Scottish administration has also said no to these adverts, which I would like to think was encouraged by my position and the Welsh Assembly, while being more timid, has taken a similar view,” he said.
The Green Party today however accused Mr Wilson of contradicting himself and warned his outdated opinions are preventing action to tackle fuel poverty and the provision of more jobs.
Steven Agnew said: “He has always said he will support measures which will encourage energy efficiency and these adverts are all about people supporting measures which can help energy efficiency — whether you agree with climate change or not. So Sammy is now contradicting himself.
“He seems to think that climate change is a belief you can argue for or against but when he had been asked to provide alternative explanations comes up with solar variations which have also been investigated by scientists.”
Mr Agnew said: “Certainly there are now very few who would agree with him.”
Mr Agnew, the Green Euro-candidate for this June’s election, argued the Green ‘new deal’ promoted by new President Barack Obama had shown how fuel poverty and climate change could be tackled while providing new jobs.
Mr Wilson insisted, however: “I have no difficulty with energy efficiency and I take my Ministerial obligations in this regard very seriously, but I believe there is virtually a fear factor in how this whole climate change issue is being addressed.”