Wells too ‘green’ for DUP…

JIM Wells has stood down as the DUP’s environment spokesman. Seems he was a bit too ‘green’, taking a lead on an environmental protection agency, better controls over rural development and national parks that was out of step with the party. Jim is well known for his progressive views and dedicated work on the environment, and in that capacity, I’ll be sad to see him go.

  • Pete Baker

    “taking a lead on an environmental protection agency, better controls over rural development and national parks that was out of step with the party..”

    Well, Gonzo.. if Jim was repeatedly and publicly contradicting his party’s policy on environmental issues, he made it a bit difficult for himself to remain as party spokesman on those issues.

    “Jim is well known for his progressive views..”

    Ah.. I take it you agree with him then? 😉

  • Stephen Copeland


    … Seems he was a bit too ‘green’ …

    On the contrary. When faced with a conflict between his ‘greenness’ and his ‘DUPness’ he clearly chose the latter. His greenness was obviously not that strong, or he would have defected to the Green Party, becoming its first (and only ever?) MLA, or at least resigned from the DUP and remained as an independent green – that way he could have continued to support the DUP on all other issues.

  • memorystick

    This is an odd story, Jim Wells is well known and well liked in the environmental sector, it certainly explains why he has been notably absent at the last few weeks environmental events around Northern Ireland.

    I wonder who will replace him and what sort of effect this will have on the DUP’s relationship with the environmental sector. I can’t see it being positive, especially as they are currently the only political party to not support the creation of an environmental protection agency.

  • Interested

    William McCrea is listed as the Environment Spokesman on the DUP website. It has been that way for some time – i.e. before any move by Jim Wells.

  • memorystick

    Wasn’t McCrea Chairman of the environment committee in Stormont?

    I do feel the DUP have made a mistake by losing Wells as an environment spokesperson.

  • bubblebasher

    I really admire Mr Wells for sticking to his principles but regret the fact that he has to stand down to do so. He has a clear devotion to environmental causes and the DUP should lament the loss of such a valuable spokesperson. No doubt his replacement will be some yes man who will ‘run with the pack’ at the expense of legitimate environmental concerns. It doesn’t really say much about the DUP’s commitment to the environment.

  • Animus

    The DUP are right to let him go – let them show themselves for the environmental wastrels they really are. Having Wells as spokesperson on the environment would imply that the DUP may have something sensible to say on environmental issues, and clearly that isn’t the case.

  • bubblebasher

    Have the DUP learnt nothing from Cameron’s ‘Vote Blue Go Green’ campaign? The environmental voter is a force to be reckoned with they won’t appreciate the DUP’s laissez faire attitude to such a hot topic. Perhaps ‘green’ just doesn’t sit well with the DUP in any capacity.

  • gg

    This sort of thing is what happens when you run your party (and have a political system which operates) on a one-issue basis. I wonder how much of the electorate had any notion of the DUP’s environmental policy before this? Or even after it? Most people don’t vote on ‘normal’ issues, do they?

  • pith

    Seems Jim Wells’ concern for his country extends beyond the usual confines of Ulster politics i.e. the border, religion and sometimes schools and hospitals. Also seems that he is unusual as a politician in having a clear expertise in his portfolio. Pity he has to give way to those who would quite happily see the landscape littered with double garage bungalows.

  • slug

    I too am sad to see Mr Wells go. He was clearly concerned about environmental issues.

  • NedKelly

    I’m really amazed that the DUP HAS as environmental policy considering how many of their members take great glee in burning tyres, setees and various other household items every 11th of July. (maybe closet greens)

  • Crataegus

    If the anecdotal evidence is anything to go by the DUP have a deep commitment to the needs of those who wish to develop. They have a zeal for such issues that is almost on a par with good old FF.

    That said there is an assumption that environmentalists are of necessity good and right. Our environment is a resource for us to sustain but also to exploit and much of the environmental agenda is subjective. We seem to clamp down on things that offend our visual senses but do little to address issues that threaten our existence.

    Steven Copeland

    or he would have defected to the Green Party, becoming its first (and only ever?) MLA, or at least resigned from the DUP and remained as an independent green

    I can’t see any Unionist joining the Green Party. Assuming Wikipedia is correct they would appear to be part of an all Ireland Party with some waffle about links to their colleagues in Britain. So I just don’t see it, independent maybe, leading member of an all Ireland Party NO! Also the Greens have 1 or 2 councillors in the South Down area so I would imagine they have some ambitions of their own though they have to be a long shot in that constituency. North Down or South Belfast maybe but South Down?

  • Scipio

    Sorry to see that Jim has felt the need to silence himself on these issues – he has spoken a lot of sense in the past and I am glad to see that Peter Robinson has spoken up for him.

    What is more galling is the role of that loyal party man Ian Jr in making cheap jibes at one of his own colleagues – clearly Ian Jr’s only crime wasn’t loyalty.

  • prodvoice

    The leaked hansard from the committee for the restoration of devolution showed alot of sniping between the dup representatives and Jim Wells. Between that and all the laddish behaviour in the assembly chamber one could come to the conclusion that the DUP are a pack of bully boys. Jim Wells isn’t exactly a walkover either, he’s an assertive guy, things must have got bad if he couldn’t take it anymore.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Does anyone know exactly what point of policy Wells was out of touch over ?

  • aquifer

    There was a consultation running on Sustainable Development in the Countryside which included policies against bungalow farming. i.e. Growing sites for bungalows as a bi-annual cash crop. Maybe the DUP’s farmer and developer support were telling Jim where the money was.

  • insider

    I believe from what I have heard it was over PPS14 and the environmental protection agency which every other political party is supporting but the DUP are taking a line against because the UFU is against it. Also, Wells is a vegetarian and very anti animal cruelty, apparently thats what all the digs were about, ppl calling him a treehugger etc. There could be more but thats the talk so far.

  • Crataegus

    How much does one have to take from one’s party colleagues before one leaves? If the party you are in opposes policies that you feel strongly about why stay?

  • Rapunsel

    Met him a few times and knew he was into environmental issues and is something of an expert on birds of prey. I understand he is also a qualified planner. What struck me about him was that ( compared to other DUP figures I have met) was that he had a hinterland outside what passes for politics here. Personally he was/is genial and interesting and well travelled and didn’t strike me as talibanish in his views. Mind you I was deeply unhappy with his intervention in the case of the young lad killed by the police in Ballynahinch at Easter. DUP will stick with the farmers and the small businesses who are more interested in short trm gain that in longer term issues of environmental protection and sustainability. Hopefully he will leave the DUP. One less MLA would be no bad thing

  • Does anyone know what the official DUP policies are on an environmental protection agency, rural planning and national parks?

  • George

    At the risk of sounding naive, what policy can you have on an environmental protection agency other than wanting or not wanting to have one?

    After all, Northern Ireland is the only place in Western Europe still to set one up and last time I looked the environment wasn’t a respecter of borders.

  • Crataegus


    DUP will stick with the farmers and the small businesses who are more interested in short term gain that in longer term issues of environmental protection

    I agree that the focus of the DUP is always towards the developer, but in many cases this is not necessarily a bad thing as the interpretation of Planning Policy can often be absurd.

    Also there is a tendency to equate conservation with control and limiting; forward through restriction! Yet History would suggest that many of the environments we protect today were due to enabling development in the past. Last night there was a good programme on the urban character of Bath and places such as Edinburgh New Town, built by developers.

    I am a developer and would wwelcome clear guidelines and progressive legislation. Ihave reason to read Planning Policy and read enough of it and you will soon see that it eventually says virtually all things to all people as it must. If you read documents like Creating Places you can see a desire to create a preconceived notion of a good traditional suburban housing estate. I think you need to do much more than that especially in the inner Urban Area. You need an overall vision of how the town will look and the creation of modern public open space and squares and enclosure. You need a body that acts like a co-ordinating developer that makes things happen otherwise you get piecemeal ‘parking lot’ development. That’s a really difficult role and is far removed from the planning we have today as they have neither the expertise, the correct attitude nor the resources to do it and it is far removed from anything the environmental lobby are proposing.

    With regards the rural bungalow blight the decision of Rookers was wrong on three counts. Firstly it is no way to introduce policy, but is becoming increasing common and legally questionable, and secondly it isn’t a proper considered policy it is a void. Thirdly some of us did quite nicely out of this “Nice one Rooker very predictable cheers,” but conversely because of the way it was introduced many people could be at grievous loss.

    Many environmentalists seem utterly hypocritical, they don’t want telephone masts but use mobiles, they don’t want windmills but use electricity, they don’t want forests on Belfast’s hills yet we use wood, they object to housing development and re-zoning but want a house to live in. Badgers are more important than sheltered homes for the elderly!

    My view is that to create a sustainable economy you need to have clear, real and practical objectives and less of the knee jerk reaction which typifies this sector.

    The interests of developers and business, environmentalists should be the same. They should not be opposite ends of the coin. Do we want more Quangos producing patronising and low quality documents like this? How many tons of CO2 did this one cost?

    Environmentalism should be about using our resources in a sustainable manner and that is about development and development is about creating positive proposals not creating jobs for endless people who can only criticise. A more proactive approach is needed.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Thanks all for the interesting replies. It sounds therefore like Wells is more sympathetic to the green lobby than the rest of the DUP, whose higher priority is the farmers.

    Crataegus, I have to say I’d love to have a couple of wind turbines on the hills overlooking where I live. I think they actually look quite cool, but more importantly I just like the idea of completely renewable energy in harmony with the environment.

  • Crataegus


    That’s two of us.

    I think they should also be in with our developments like the one at the Antrim Hospital. I would also like to see the dams that once fuelled Belfast’s industrial revolution reused to power turbines or at least that concept re introduced.

    If there was a section in the Building regulations about generating power on site I would be delighted to do it, but if I do it now the houses will be more expensive than elsewhere and may not sell. People are very conservative about novel ideas.

    The problem I have with environmentalists is the tendency to regulate and preach rather than actually do. We end up with a proliferation of bodies all with different requirements and priorities all competing for dominance and all building an empire of well paid non productive jobs. Can this be done in a better and less fragmented way?

    Let’s get on with it properly and invest in promoting a positive approach.

  • Nathan

    I agree with Stephen Copeland’s point on this thread – if he was that conscious about Green issues then he would have jumped camps to the Green Party.

    In response to Crataegus comment that Unionists never join the Green Party, the husband of Elizabeth Davidson, the Irish Green party candidate who is contesting my neighbouring constituency of Dublin South-West in the forthcoming general election, was a former UUP councillor who jumped ship to the Irish Greens some time back.

    I’d imagine that many left-of-centre Unionists living and working in Dublin support the Greens when it comes to elections. It is probably the only major political party in the Irish Republic which cannot trace its history back to the Irish Volunteers or the Citizen Army which unravelled militant nationalism in the early 20th century.

    Moreover, it is a party which has benefited the most in my opinion, from the political reawaking of southern protestants in the last decade or so. The Irish Greens attracted Graham Norton’s sister, Paula Giles, who was the party’s spokesperson on food and agriculture in the late 1990s. And Trevor Sargent is of course, the only Church of Irelander to have led a major Irish political party since the early 20th century…and then you have John Gormley TD, who is married to Penny Stuart, a former member of my parish. With personalities like that, northern protestants living south of the border can be reassured that parties such as the Greens have a sizeable Protestant intake.

    It is credible therefore that unionists would consider transferring their loyalties to the Greens while residing in the south for work/study purposes, more so than Labour actually, who ‘contaminated’ themselves with the stickies in the late 1990s.