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Libor scandal; Wiltshire wind farms; Renewables Obligation: July in headlines



We’re into August now, so as usual, we look back at the month of July to examine the biggest headlines that emerged.

Before July 2012, the term ‘Libor’ was arguably only known to those within the financial services sector. But now, as we enter August, it has become a media buzzword and synonymous with scandal, disruption and unethical banking.

This came to a culmination last month when, after significant public and political pressure, Barclays chief executive Bob Diamond resigned from his post after the bank was accused of fixing the Libor rate (Bob Diamonds are not forever).

The furore led more people than ever to review ethical banking options (Interest in ethical options surges amid UK banking melee), with Triodos Bank just one of a number institutions experiencing a significant increase in enquiries from potential customers in the days after the Libor scandal became public.

Diamond faced some tough questions from the Treasury committee in parliament just a day after resigning (Diamond faces grilling from parliament as public fights back) and the Serious Fraud Office announced it would be investigating the issue (Serious Fraud Office to investigate Libor scandal). The saga, though, continues.

The Guardian covered the issue in some depth, covering it in the form of a live blog on the day that Diamond handed his towel in (Barclays blames ‘senior Whitehall figures’ for Libor scandal as Bob Diamond resigns – live).

In the days after the revelation, it also published a piece that claimed Diamond would have known about the Libor rate-fixing that was going on, despite his best efforts to deny this (Bob Diamond would have known about Libor rigging, claims whistleblower).

The Telegraph ran with the angle that Labour ministers would have also known about the fixing (Bob Diamond: Labour ministers were warned about Libor fixing).

Another piece of news that hit national headlines concerned wind farms in Wiltshire. Conservative councillors in the county essentially canned the its hopes for wind power development in the near future, after voting in favour of restrictions to limit the available locations for turbines (Wind farms cause row in Wiltshire).

The Guardian also covered this news (Wiltshire council votes for tough new planning restrictions for windfarms), as did BusinessGreen (Wiltshire latest council to declare war on wind farms).

The council stated that its rejection of wind power was to do with health and safety fears, but as we wrote in our piece, these concerns are completely unfounded.

Finally, the third piece to make it into July’s review is to do with the government’s Renewables Obligation (RO) scheme. At the end of the month, the Department of Energy and Climate Change published its much-anticipated plans for renewable energy subsidies.

It claims the new banding for the RO will “support jobs and deliver more clean power with a reduction in costs to consumers between 2013 and 2015” (UK economy to get £25bn boost through renewables as Lib Dems stand firm).

Some of the leading figures in the UK’s green industry offered their thoughts in B&GT’s reaction round-up (Renewables Obligation banding review: industry reaction).

The banding review upshot came after significant pressure from the chancellor George Osborne on energy secretary Ed Davey to place a greater emphasis on gas. Osborne wrote down his thoughts in a letter to Davey, republished in the Guardian (George Osborne letter to Ed Davey on gas and wind power).

At the same time, Tim Yeo MP, chairman of the Energy and Climate Change Committee, was quoted in the press seriously questioning Osborne’s leadership of the Treasury (Senior Tory: Treasury fails to support green energy).

Well, that’s all we’ve got time for in our July review. Let’s hope the next one includes less banking scandals and unfounded rejection of clean energy!

Previous monthly round-ups:

Rio+20; renewable energy; #EndFossilFuelSubsidies: June in headlines

Executive pay; feed-in tariff cuts; and the energy bill: May in headlines

Renewable energy investment; fracking; and the not-so-green government: April in headlines