Labour leader Ed Miliband’s wife could benefit from Labour’s pro-wind farm policy if the party win the next election. Justine Thornton is a barrister who has previously helped developers in legal battles to build new wind turbines. The news comes as Ed Miliband called on Britain to “embrace” wind energy and suggested that Labour would encourage the building of more wind turbines if it wins the next election.
Thornton’s profile on her chambers’ website says that she “is highly recommended for her Environmental expertise”. Among her previous clients are wind turbine firm EDF Energy, the Department for Communities and Local Government, the Department for the Environment and Rural Affairs, the Environment Agency, the Welsh Assembly and various local councils.
The Daily Mail reports that she recently advised Barnwell Manor Wind Energy on its bid to build four 400ft turbines on land owned by the Duke of Gloucester. The plan was eventually rejected on the basis it that would overshadow a Tudor house, which is set in what a planning inspector called “Britain’s finest Elizabethan garden”, with “national if not international significance”.
She later co-authored an essay on the case entitled ‘Turbines, heritage assets and merits: a change in the wind‘.
Ed Miliband is now the third party leader to have a close family member implicated in the wind farm industry.
David Cameron’s father-in-law, Sir Reginald Sheffield, put up eight 400ft wind turbines on his Lincolnshire estate, from which he earns £1,000 per day. The turbines provoked fury in the local community, yet Sir Reginald went on to build a second wind farm at nearby Flixborough Grange.
In 2010, Nick Clegg’s wife was accused of a “conflict of interest” after landing a job on the board of Spanish construction firm Acciona, the world’s largest wind farm building company. The Liberal Democrats had a staunchly pro-wind farm policy in the previous election , pledging to build 15,000 new turbines.
Justine Thornton has previously found herself in trouble over a conflict of interest with her husband’s work. In 2009, Whitehall mandarins barred her from working for German energy firm E.On, which was bidding to build power stations while her then-boyfriend was Climate Change Secretary.