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Deben's reply to Yeo

Lord Deben has replied to Tim Yeo's polite inquiry about the nature of Veolia, a company chaired by Deben and which appears to represent a conflict of interest.

The position with the water company has not changed materially since I wrote to the committee before my confirmation. Veolia Water UK is overwhelmingly a supplier of services to the water industry. One of its subsidiaries continues to run an infrastructure services business which carries out utility connections of all kinds, including connections to renewable and non-renewable energy sources. It will complete grid connections, whatever the nature of the energy source, and is energy source neutral.

As I have previously highlighted, the whole business represents a very small proportion of Veolia Water UK's turnover. Indeed, its connections to renewables represented less than 1% of Veolia Water UK's turnover in the most recent financial period.

Hmm. As the Mail on Sunday pointed out the other day, Deben had previously suggested that he would be whiter than white on this issue:

If [Veolia] had ‘even a remote connection’ with the environment or climate change, he promised, he would step down.

He seems to have resiled from his position of purity in double quick time.

The other thing to point out is that Deben will be at the heart of decisions that could very quickly turn that 1% figure into something considerably larger. Indeed Veolia have admitted that new wind connections are likely to be a new source of income for the infrastructure business. Deben himself has noted the closer and closer links of Veolia Water to the other parts of the Veolia empire, which include Dalkia, a renewables company.

Deben is either Veolia's man or he is the public's man. He can't be both.

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Reader Comments (25)

I'm just ploughing theough a number of OFGEM documents, one of which is an Ove Arup report:

Department of Energy and Climate Change
Review of the generation costs and deployment potential of renewable electricity technologies in the UK
Study Report
Final | Updated October 2011

For every type of renewable studied there's a concern about grid connections. This one's in the Onshore Wind section:

"One of the main challenges wind development faces is the cost of procuring access to local grid infrastructure. These costs can be significant and can stop a project from being deployed."

Feb 2, 2013 at 1:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterIan_UK

It will complete grid connections, whatever the nature of the energy source, and is energy source neutral.

A gas/coal/nuclear power station only needs one connection to the grid. To produce the same power with wind factories requires many thousands of connections therefore it is in the companies interest to have renewables.

Lord Deben's reply implies that Veolia does not benefit from promoting renewables.

Feb 2, 2013 at 1:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

Bish on the assumption you can stand to be in the same room as this despicable piece of work, will you be going to the Cambridge meeting? and if so no doubt you will make sure you get a chance to cross-examine him.

Feb 2, 2013 at 1:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterN.Tropywins

One slight oddity about the letter though is that the typed named under Lord Deben's signature is ...

Tim Yeo MP
Chairman Energy and Climate Change Committee.

So who actually drafted the letter??

Feb 2, 2013 at 2:00 PM | Registered Commentermatthu

note that turnover is not the same as profit, and that Deben's comment relates to turnover.

Feb 2, 2013 at 2:25 PM | Unregistered Commenterper

'Deben is either Veolia's man or he is the public's man. He can't be both.'

incorrect Deben is Deben's man has this is entirely about self interest .

But the idea what one politician with their nose in the renewable subsides bucket can be trusted to review another politician with their nose in the renewable subsides bucket, is in its self hilarious.

Feb 2, 2013 at 2:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

46 Queen Anne's Gate, according to google street view is the office of Sancroft International of which John Gummer is the founder and a current consultant.

Sancroft describes its function as;

"We act as a lens for our clients, enabling them to see a clear and simple path for their company through the increasingly complex world of sustainability."

and offers this;

"Crisis management – We help businesses respond to serious and immediate threats to their reputation, sales and operations. We then make sure that the necessary systemic changes are made within the business to ensure that any self-inflicted crises are not repeated."

First set the agenda, then profit from it then watch chickens come home to roost. The man can't even run a protection racket.

Feb 2, 2013 at 2:57 PM | Unregistered Commenterssat

mmh - seems like the climate audit site is for sale to the highest bidder???

Feb 2, 2013 at 2:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterMark W

Mark W

No, as others have bothered to investigate we don't have to. It just looks like the renewal was late and has now been sorted out but it will take a little while for the site to reappear.
Sorry if this is a disappointment.

Feb 2, 2013 at 3:11 PM | Unregistered Commenterartwest

On the contrary. Pleased to hear all is well.

Feb 2, 2013 at 3:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterMark W

So who actually drafted the letter??

It seems fairly clear that Mr Yeo drafted the letter for his friend to sign, the existence of the line below the signature looks like the consequence of a sloppy cut & paste job.

Lord Deben is clearly far too important to bother with issues as trivial as this which is why he signed the letter without reading it carefully.

Feb 2, 2013 at 3:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterArthur Dent

Who wrote the letter..!! Signed by Deben

As I can't imagine Deben would accidentally type Tim Yeo, etc, etc at the bottom of the letter

Very very embarassing?

Feb 2, 2013 at 3:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

No, it's just the format in those circles to put the addressee at the bottom.

Feb 2, 2013 at 3:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Fowle


I think it unlikely Lord D types his own letters. Perhaps they were both in the room as it was being put together and the poor typist was unsure as to whose letter it actually was?
Probably innocent but still a glorious cock-up, if nothing else requiring a somewhat a embarrassing explanation.
How we larffed!

Feb 2, 2013 at 3:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Savage

RE:- Yeo's name at the bottom of the letter.

1. That's the only formal reference to the recipient.

2. As a "Lord", wouldn't Deben consider a mere "Right Honorable" to be below him, in the pecking order?

Feb 2, 2013 at 3:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

"No, it's just the format in those circles to put the addressee at the bottom."

Ooooh. No one likes a party pooper! Just when we were getting going!

Feb 2, 2013 at 3:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Savage

Has anyone ever seen Yeo and Selwyn-Beefburger together in the same room?

Feb 2, 2013 at 6:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

Joe Public:
. . . wouldn't Deben consider a mere "Right Honorable" to be below him in the pecking order?

Tim Yeo is known as The Right Honourable because he is a member of The Privy Council (of the United Kingdom), a body with a slightly odd role that few (me included) fully understand. All present and former ministers of the Cabinet are, unless they resign, PC members.

Gumboil is thus also a PC member but, as he has left the House of Commons and has since been ennobled (i.e. appointed by his former boss to sit in the House of Lords), he is formally known as John Selwyn Gummer, Baron Deben, PC (the PC signifying Privy Council membership).

Tim Yeo went to a slightly posher school than Gumboil and is still a leading member of the Commons, a ruling caste selected mainly from the establishment by an odd electoral procedure which tends to favour convincing liars. (There are and have been members rather than just representatives of the great unwashed in the Commons - some with distinguished records, others with, well, less distinguished ones - but they are rarer than some think.)

So, despite appearances, the answer to Joe's question is No.

I'm only trying to explain these anachronistic procedures; I'm not to blame for 'em.

Feb 2, 2013 at 6:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaveB

However unsavoury pies might be at the moment, the prospect of finding even 1% of Gummer's finger in it is unacceptable. Particularly if eating it is an environmental obligation.

Feb 2, 2013 at 7:02 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

I must pay more attention. I don't recall hearing about this on the BBC news. Strange that, because it was in the Guardian a couple of months ago-

'Some Tory MPs have taken to booing and jeering every time the Climate Change Act is mentioned in the Commons. A growing section of the party would like the Committee on Climate Change to be scrapped and the act repealed.'

Feb 2, 2013 at 7:57 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

1% does not sound a great deal when you say it quickly but I wonder if (translated into a monetry figure I could understand) it would pay off my mortgage or even allow me to take my wife out for fish and chips on a Saturday night.
Pax, Tony Windsor

Feb 2, 2013 at 8:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterTony Windsor

What do you expect?
Lord Diparound is a politician.
Haven't met or seen one who is capable of terminological exactitudes when asked a question
about money.

Feb 2, 2013 at 11:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

This is reminiscent of Al Gore.

Gore invested in "green technologies" and then lobbied Washington for taxpayer support. Obama dished out several Billion dollars. Gore watched the stocks go up and sold out just before many of these folks went bankrupt.

Gore's estimated current personal wealth: $300 million bucks.

This is a very good business model for well connected "selfless public servants!"

Feb 2, 2013 at 11:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterPolitical Junkie

I think I pointed out before, that the last grid connection to a Coal Power Station was probably Drax in 1974. I doubt there will be another until Deben, Yeo, Davey and a lot more have been boxed up and buried. Roll on that happy day.
The last grid connection to Nuclear will have been Sizewell B in 1995. There are alleged to be plans for new nuclear. Don't hold your breath, with the bunch of numbskulls and crooks in Westminster and Brussels at present.
There will have been a lot of gas fired power stations with grid connections over the last 25 years. If you are a great optimist, you might expect plenty more in future thanks to Shale Gas, providing that weapons grade nincompoop Eddie (Climate Change Act 2008) Milipede doesn't form the next government. Because the Labia Party's clever new policy is "no gas without CCS" (the latter being another thing that doesn't actually work, of course.)
And then there's Big Wind. Hundreds, maybe thousands of connections so far and thousands still to come. For all the electricity the whirligigs produce when you most need it, you could use old rope instead of copper cables for the connectors. That would be more 'sustainable'.
So, where does Deben's money come from? Coal connections? Nuclear? Gas? Wind?

Hmmm. Another tough one.....

Feb 3, 2013 at 7:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby

Martin Brumby, 7:36 a.m.

Yes indeed - this is a fiendishly confounding and complex poser that appears to have eluded Yeo's normally superb ability to identify conflicts of interest.

Feb 3, 2013 at 12:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterPolitical Junkie

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