The man who will decide on Thorney wind-farm

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This is the man who will decide whether the wind-farm at French Drove gets the go-ahead.

Greg Clark was named today as Minister for Communities and Local Government in the new Conservative administration. He replaces Eric Pickles.

It is up to him to review the report submitted in April by the planning inspector, John Braithwaite, and make a decision whether it can go ahead or not.

REG Windpower wants to build an additional four wind turbines at French Farm, French Drove to the north of Thorney. The company already has permission to build two, but wants a six-turbine wind-farm. Peterborough City Council granted permission in 2014, but after MP Stewart Jackson intervened, the decision was quashed by central government and a planning inquiry set up.

During his last few months in power, Eric Pickles was notable for rejecting a number of planning applications for wind-farms, sometimes against the advice of planning inspectors. A decision on French Farm has been promised by July and Mr Clark is the man who has to decide.

He is seen as being left of centre, born in Middlesbrough and educated at a comprehensive school. His father and grandfather were milkmen working in a family business, while his mother worked at Sainsbury’s.

He read Economics at Magdalene College, Cambridge, where he joined the Social Democratic Party. He then studied at the London School of Economics, where he was awarded his PhD in 1992.

Clark first worked as a business consultant before becoming special advisor to the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, Ian Lang, between 1996 and 1997. Subsequently, he was appointed the BBC’s Controller, Commercial Policy and was Director of Policy for the Conservative Party from 2001 until his election to parliament in 2005 as MP for Royal Tunbridge Wells.

Before today, he was most famous for saying the Conservative party needed to pay less attention to the social thinking of Winston Churchill, and more to that of columnist on The Guardian, Polly Toynbee.

He became Shadow Minister for Charities, Voluntary Bodies and Social Enterprise in 2006 and two years later was promoted to the Shadow Cabinet, shadowing the new government position of Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.

In the coalition government formed in 2010, Mr Clark held a number of posts including:

  • Minister of State in the Department for Communities and Local Government
  • Minister for Cities
  • Financial Secretary to the Treasury
  • Minister for Universities, Science and Cities

He and his wife Helen have three children and they live in Royal Tunbridge Wells.

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