Thursday, 14 May 2009

David Cameron visits Cornwall

David Cameron was in Cornwall today to make an announcement about geothermal energy and how we need to encourage its development. But, of course, the continuing row over MPs expenses was inevitably going to be the only thing people would be interested in.

Like everyone else, I have been shocked by the claims that some MPs have made and urgent action is needed to restore confidence. I think David Cameron was absolutely right earlier this week to grab the bull by the horns and set out some concrete steps he was taking - right now. These include requiring MPs who have made excessive claims to repay them, making clear that, in future, items like furniture and food should not be claimed for and setting up a new scrutiny process within the party to assess claims submitted.

There has been a sense of drift from the government. People don't want to hear any more that something was "within the rules" or that there is going to be some new comittee to "look" at how things are done. You need some firm leadership instead and it is good to see David Cameron rising to the meet the challenge and leading the way again.

But back to geothermal energy. This part of Cornwall was famous for the Hot Rocks project in the 80's which developed much of the international expertise in the field. I remember hearing about their work as a teenager. Although that project was discontinued, many of the scientists who worked on it are still around.

Richard Freeborn is one of them. He has developed a very successful business, Kensa Heat Pumps, at the site of the old mine in Mount Wellington near St Day to set up a new business which manufactures ground source heat pumps - essentially pumping water deep into the rocks below and bringing it back up at temperatures sufficient for heating properties.

Also about to set up at the site on Mount Wellington is a new venture to test model versions of wave power devices - which, if successful, could then go on to be tested on a commercial scale at the new Wave Hub facility in Hayle. Finally we had a revolutionary manufacturer of LED lighting technology who gave a presentation on their new energy saving light bulbs.

It is great that David Cameron decided to make another visit to Cornwall. I have argued from the start that technologies such as this, not only provide the answer to our energy needs, but can also lead to a prosperous future for Camborne, Redruth and Hayle.