Oliver Letwin MP - Keynote speech at the House of Commons, Tuesday 15th Nov
Posted on: Tuesday 22nd of November 2011 at 05:43:01 PM
One of my colleagues in the House of Lords, at one stage in her very distinguished career, was serving as an educationalist in Northern Canada in the depths of mid winter and the snow was thick on the ground and they were cut off from [the cities] by these snows. She went in to a bar where she met some locals and said, in a rather English way that many of us might do, ‘why don’t they do something about the immense blockages?’ and one of the people at the bar said ‘Mrs, hereabouts, them’s us’.
That I think is exactly the spirit that EcoIsland demonstrates. It’s fantastic that you seem to have acquired not just the previous speaker and his colleagues but many others besides, and joined together and bought whole teams of people together to try and create this astonishing project. That, of course, is exactly what we are trying to achieve in many respects around the country and nowhere is it more important that the Big Society should get to work than in the ecological, environmental and energy efficiency fields. The second reason that makes this project remarkable, and one of the reasons I was so glad when Andrew [Turner MP] started to bully me into coming here today, was when I discovered that also you were doing the other thing that I think is crucial. It is fantastically important that the spirit should be there, the will, the local feeling, the passion, the volunteers and so on. It is also incredibly important that the technology should be there. We are not going to achieve the things we need to achieve just by willpower alone. We need to achieve them by human intelligence, by technology, by harnessing all the fantastic advances in science which are available to us to achieve real effects rather than simply the things that make us feel warm inside and don’t really affect the planet and our own environment and our own energy position.
Things like the smart grid and smart meters, and harnessing these so that we actually take a technological leap forward and become one of the most advanced countries on earth in terms of using energy efficiency are an important part of this project and that is hugely to be welcomed. Just looking at the board there, an incredibly impressive board, of all the partners global, national and local, one gets a very strong sense of the way in which the huge well of local support has been strengthened by professionalism and skill and knowledge, and that is the very combination which will move mountains, so I congratulate you all.
I was just asked by the BBC if I thought this was realistic. I told them I have not the slightest idea whether it was realistic but that all of you believe it is and that is what matters and I very, very much hope that we will find your faith and you hope are justified and that this project becomes one which eventually every politician of every kind is going to be shooting down to see and claim credit for on the grounds that it is magnificently successful.
EcoIsland Partnership CIC, a community interest company registered in England and Wales, with registered number 7532908, whose registered office is at The Kennels, Woodvale Road, Cowes, Isle of Wight, PO31 8EB.