Donald Macintyre's Sketch: ‘Archers’ solar farm adds surreal drama

 

Ever since 1955, when to the listeners’ horror the glamorous and newly married Grace was killed by a falling stable beam as she tried to rescue her horse from a fire, it’s been clear that Archers fans have a problem distinguishing between fact and fiction.

Today, however, the Tory MP Andrew Bridgen took this disorder to a new level. In a parliamentary first, he announced that his north-west Leicestershire constituents “have considerable sympathy for those protesters campaigning against the current high-profile application by Borchester Land to build a large-scale solar farm on the Berrow estate in Ambridge,” and he asked for the Government’s view.

For those not following every twist of the ever-topical everyday story of country folk, go-getting BL chairman Justin Elliott is proposing what a blog on the Archers website describes as a “big bold plan” to cover a wide tract of farmland with an “array” of large solar panels before the subsidy for such “field-based” schemes runs out next March.

The never less than tiggerishly eager climate change minister Gregory Barker said he wished to “draw the attention of South Borsetshire district council to the planning advice and solar strategy that we sent to all councils, making it clear that our focus is on brownfield sites, not high-grade agricultural land, and, wherever possible, building-mounted.”

Though comically surreal, the exchange underlined that local opposition to renewable energy installations is not limited to the hated – by many Tories – wind farms. But it was an older fuel that proved most contentious. Labour ex-miners Dennis Skinner and Ian Lavery (there are still some MPs left who once had real jobs) pressed energy minister Michael Fallon on the threatened closure of Kellingley and Thoresby collieries, which would bring Britain’s once-mighty coal industry down to one pit. (UK power stations still burn loads of the black stuff. But it’s seemingly cheaper to buy from abroad, including Russia.)

When he and other MPs had met Vince Cable to call for £70m to save the pits, complained Skinner, the Business Secretary had not been “able to talk to us frankly” because a representative of Fallon’s had been sitting at the back taking notes. To be fair, the multi-tasking Fallon is a minister in Cable’s department too; though Skinner probably had in mind that he is a disciple of Margaret Thatcher, not exactly a coal industry fan.

Nowadays the alternative energy holy grail is fracking, which Tory ministers and most backbench MPs passionately support, other than in their own constituencies. Promoting the government’s plan for “shale gas exploration” – ministers prefer not to use the f-word – Fallon remarked drily: “I know colleagues across the House will want to champion applications for licences in their area.” If nothing else, Fallon does irony rather well.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea