James Delingpole running as an anti-wind farm candidate in constituency with no wind farms

Corby might have five wind turbines in the future though.

James Delingpole, scourge of renewables everywhere, has announced his candidacy for the Corby by-election in this week's Spectator, writing, seemingly in all seriousness, that:

The stench from the wind industry and its many leech-like hangers-on is overpowering and it's a disgrace that so few people are speaking up for the thousands of victims affected by it. But I am. I hereby announce my intention to stand in the Corby by-election as the anti-wind farm candidate. Not in my back yard. And not in yours either!

Yes, Delingpole is seriously attempting to reclaim the phrase "NIMBY". Good luck to him with that; currently, Ladbrokes has the odds at 8/11 for him to lose his deposit, so he's got an uphill battle ahead of him.

But if he's running as a single-issue candidate, then surely he has latched on to a massive local issue, right? Richard Taylor, for example, famously won two straight terms as an independent candidate running against the closure of Kidderminster Hospital in his constituency of Wyre Forest. Delingpole presumably has realised that the scourge of wind farms in Corby is at least that bad.

Corby Borough Council tell me there are zero (0) wind farms in the borough of Corby, which holds three quarters of the population of the constituency. East Northants county council tell me that there are zero (0) wind farms in the electoral wards of East Northants which comprise the rest of the constituency. And an ordnance survey map of the constituency confirms there are zero (0) wind farms in the overall parliamentary constituency of Corby. There is one nearby – it's marked on the map as the little windmill to the easy of Burton Latimer – but that's actually in the neighbouring constituency of Kettering.

There is, however, one planning application for a wind farm in the rural part of Corby constituency, midway between Corby and Oundle, outside the village of Brigstock. Well, I say wind farm; it's more like a wind paddock, with five 125m turbines being proposed on land currently held by the Duke of Gloucester.

Dellingpole dismisses anyone who supports the development as "in the pay of Big Wind", so by that definition he presumably sees 100 per cent opposition; but the electoral commission works on different rules. We shall see how successful Delingpole is, but hopefully he hasn't quit his gig at the Telegraph too hastily.

Updated 8:10pm with confirmation from East Northants county council

Wind turbines. Photograph: Getty Images

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

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The rise of the green mayor – Sadiq Khan and the politics of clean energy

At an event at Tate Modern, Sadiq Khan pledged to clean up London's act.

On Thursday night, deep in the bowls of Tate Modern’s turbine hall, London Mayor Sadiq Khan renewed his promise to make the capital a world leader in clean energy and air. Yet his focus was as much on people as power plants – in particular, the need for local authorities to lead where central governments will not.

Khan was there to introduce the screening of a new documentary, From the Ashes, about the demise of the American coal industry. As he noted, Britain continues to battle against the legacy of fossil fuels: “In London today we burn very little coal but we are facing new air pollution challenges brought about for different reasons." 

At a time when the world's leaders are struggling to keep international agreements on climate change afloat, what can mayors do? Khan has pledged to buy only hybrid and zero-emissions buses from next year, and is working towards London becoming a zero carbon city.

Khan has, of course, also gained heroic status for being a bête noire of climate-change-denier-in-chief Donald Trump. On the US president's withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, Khan quipped: “If only he had withdrawn from Twitter.” He had more favourable things to say about the former mayor of New York and climate change activist Michael Bloomberg, who Khan said hailed from “the second greatest city in the world.”

Yet behind his humour was a serious point. Local authorities are having to pick up where both countries' central governments are leaving a void – in improving our air and supporting renewable technology and jobs. Most concerning of all, perhaps, is the way that interest groups representing business are slashing away at the regulations which protect public health, and claiming it as a virtue.

In the UK, documents leaked to Greenpeace’s energy desk show that a government-backed initiative considered proposals for reducing EU rules on fire-safety on the very day of the Grenfell Tower fire. The director of this Red Tape Initiative, Nick Tyrone, told the Guardian that these proposals were rejected. Yet government attempts to water down other EU regulations, such as the energy efficiency directive, still stand.

In America, this blame-game is even more highly charged. Republicans have sworn to replace what they describe as Obama’s “war on coal” with a war on regulation. “I am taking historic steps to lift the restrictions on American energy, to reverse government intrusion, and to cancel job-killing regulations,” Trump announced in March. While he has vowed “to promote clean air and clear water,” he has almost simultaneously signed an order to unravel the Clean Water Rule.

This rhetoric is hurting the very people it claims to protect: miners. From the Ashes shows the many ways that the industry harms wider public health, from water contamination, to air pollution. It also makes a strong case that the American coal industry is in terminal decline, regardless of possibile interventions from government or carbon capture.

Charities like Bloomberg can only do so much to pick up the pieces. The foundation, which helped fund the film, now not only helps support job training programs in coal communities after the Trump administration pulled their funding, but in recent weeks it also promised $15m to UN efforts to tackle climate change – again to help cover Trump's withdrawal from Paris Agreement. “I'm a bit worried about how many cards we're going to have to keep adding to the end of the film”, joked Antha Williams, a Bloomberg representative at the screening, with gallows humour.

Hope also lies with local governments and mayors. The publication of the mayor’s own environment strategy is coming “soon”. Speaking in panel discussion after the film, his deputy mayor for environment and energy, Shirley Rodrigues, described the move to a cleaner future as "an inevitable transition".

Confronting the troubled legacies of our fossil fuel past will not be easy. "We have our own experiences here of our coal mining communities being devastated by the closure of their mines," said Khan. But clean air begins with clean politics; maintaining old ways at the price of health is not one any government must pay. 

'From The Ashes' will premiere on National Geograhpic in the United Kingdom at 9pm on Tuesday, June 27th.

India Bourke is an environment writer and editorial assistant at the New Statesman.

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