A leading UKIP MEP is being investigated over suggestions that he stands to benefit financially from a wind farm on his land – in strict contravention of UKIP’s anti-wind-farm policy.
The Earl of Dartmouth – who campaigns under the name William Dartmouth – is the most senior of UKIP’s MEPs in the South West and number one on the party’s candidates’ list for that region in the European elections next month.
If the allegations – strongly denied by Lord Dartmouth – turn out to be true, then Dartmouth will certainly face deselection by his party. It was for similar reasons that the party’s economic spokesman, Tim Congdon, was forced to resign earlier this year when it was revealed in a newspaper that he had a financial interest in a Scottish wind farm.
The allegations – raised in a detailed post by the blogger Autonomous Mind – concern a patch of land on Slaithwaite Moor in the South Pennines for which a planning application has been submitted for three 300 foot wind turbines, which would despoil the tranquillity of this beauty spot and ruin the views for many miles around.
If Lord Dartmouth owns the land then he could expect to make upwards of £60,000 a year for the next 25 years, index linked, and with no need to do anything other than count the accumulating gold in his Gringott’s vault.
But the price he’d pay would be to lose his generously salaried and lavishly expense-accounted job in Brussels as a Euro MP – worth, perhaps, in excess of £150,000. This is because UKIP opposes wind farms on economic, environmental and social grounds and would certainly not support one of its politicians engaging in what is essentially a form of legalised fraud against the taxpayer
Fortunately, Lord Dartmouth appears recently to have found a solution to this dilemma by transferring ownership of the land to a company called Rosscroft Ltd. Unfortunately, however, as Autonomous Mind reports, there remains a certain confusion over who owns Rosscroft (which is registered at the same Northern solicitor’s practice that represents Lord Dartmouth) and who will benefit from it financially.
Lord Dartmouth today issued a statement, claiming:
I do not own the land in question. The land which is the subject of a planning application is owned by a relative. I derive no benefit, financial or otherwise, from the land as it stands, nor would I if the planning application were successful. An adjacent piece of land, which is owned by me, was erroneously included in the application. This strip of land would not be involved in the wind turbine application in any shape or form. As a UK Independence Party MEP I fully endorse the party policy to oppose onshore wind development. The reason that the name Rosscroft Ltd appears on the above planning application, as well as in relation to land I do own, is that they represent the entire extended Dartmouth family as well as many other clients.
Questions remain, however, as to why in the planning documents submitted by the developer Valley Wind, Lord Dartmouth is still listed as an owner of the land.
And also as to why the ownership structure of Rosscroft Ltd – now with offshore directors in Monaco and the Bahamas – looks so opaque. And why, given Lord Dartmouth’s evidently strong commitment to fighting onshore wind, he couldn’t perhaps be fight a bit harder against this planned wind farm development on land which he used to own himself and which would still appear to be very much part of the family.
“Either William Dartmouth is being incredibly stupid here or incredibly venal,” said one UKIP insider today. “I think it’s about time we found out which – and acted accordingly.”