Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

Sammy fumes at ‘lack of respect’ from Westminster

Sammy Wilson

Environment Minister Sammy Wilson has accused Westminster officials of failing to treat him with respect over the row over global warming ads.

The minister said Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon’s officials should have treated him with the same respect that they showed to their own minister after the DOE raised concerns over the Act on CO2 ads, which promoted energy saving and tackling climate change.

Mr Wilson, a climate change sceptic, later refused to allow the ads to be aired on local TV stations in Northern Ireland.

In a letter to Mr Hoon released to the Belfast Telegraph under a Freedom of Information request, Mr Wilson said Department for Transport officials had launched a UK-wide campaign on eco-driving carrying the Act on CO2 brand.

At the DOE’s request, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) had asked for climate change messages to be removed from the ads.

“DfT said this was not possible and went ahead with the advertising despite further requests from my officials,” Mr Wilson said in his letter.

“As a Minister, I believe I should be afforded the respect from your officials that I hope they hold towards you. Similarly, when a DOE official elucidates the position of my department, it is not within the purview of DfT to decide it is wrong and to ignore it.

“Devolved remits should be respected at all times.”

Mr Wilson said the campaign was not run in Scotland and there were some issues surrounding DfT running it in Wales. DfT marketing appeared to be designed for an English audience, he said.

“Energy efficiencies and delivering cost savings to citizens are two aims that I fully support — it is entangling these with unnecessary carbon reduction messages that is objectionable,” he said.

“The changes that my officials requested — merely the dropping of lines on carbon reduction or changing these to ‘environmental benefits’ — were not unreasonable.”

Mr Wilson then asked Mr Hoon either to remove the lines or stop any further advertising in Northern Ireland that carried any message promoting carbon reduction or “anthropogenic climate change”.

“In future, I would hope that your officials would involve those in the devolved administrations much earlier in the creative process.

“This would avoid situations like this, lead to greater co-operation and deliver consistent messages across the UK.”

Green Party Assembly member Brian Wilson said the letter proved the Minister was more interested in political point scoring than the serious issue of climate change and fuel poverty.

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