Leader: Climate sceptics deserve a fair hearing, Mr Huhne

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IN A typically hubristic speech today, UK Energy Secretary Chris Huhne will attack those he chooses to label “climate sceptics and armchair engineers” for daring to criticise the contribution renewable generation can make to our electricity supply.

His broadside comes the day after industry body RenewableUK revealed large wind turbines schemes south of the Border are being rejected by local authorities. Local approval rates in Scotland have seen the steepest fall over the past three years – down from 58 per cent in 2008-9 to only 39 per cent in 2010-11.

Mr Huhne might have paused to ask why this should be, before he launched such an intemperate assault on critics of the renewable energy policies the UK coalition and the Scottish Government are pursuing with zeal.

There could be a number of reason for the fall, which should bother Mr Huhne. First, councils might be listening to local people who do not want the countryside despoiled by giant turbines. That is called democracy. Mr Huhne is a Liberal Democrat. Second, they might be studying evidence that shows the cost of building wind farms will never be recouped in terms of an environmental payback. Third, they might have noticed Mr Huhne himself is reducing the subsidies to onshore wind, in favour of offshore generation.

When a politician denigrates his opponents in such patronising terms, we can be sure of one thing: he is losing the argument.

Mr Huhne should listen to reasoned scepticism, including from those in armchairs.