Dale Vince, owner of Stroud’s biggest business, Ecotricity is something of a marmite character.
I like him for his honesty and no-nonsense views on climate change.
So, it wasn’t a complete surprise when the Times on Friday reported that Dale was selling up Ecotricity-the company he founded in Stroud 25 years ago-and stepping into the world of politics.
Some of my journalistic friends initially thought his announcement was an April Fools’ joke. Coming as it did right in the middle of this country’s biggest ever energy crisis, it was easy to think this might be a joke for some publicity.
And Dale is a very good self-publicist. But later last year, just before the Cop26 Climate change conference, I interviewed Dale for Business & Innovation magazine. He was his usual forthright self and told me: “At the moment, taxes, subsidies and regulations-the three big levers of government-all support the burning of fossil fuels and the mass farming of animals.
“They are the three things that drive the crises we face. Everybody needs to change their economic model.
“We tax low carbon things more than high carbon things-you pay 20 per cent VAT on solar panels for your home. If you want to burn coal at home, that’s five per cent.”
I asked him why the government didn’t listen to these arguments.
“Governments are beset by loud lobbying voices and have a real problem in seeing the wood from the trees.
“Only the richest, most powerful voices get into the ears of government-that’s what skews the outcome.
“These people have access to No 10 and No 11-they stick their seconded employees into government departments and they write government policy. I think it is corrupt.”
In his book, Manifesto, which I read after interviewing him he predicts: “I think politics is the next frontier where we most need to change and where most impact could be had.
“I may go there.”
Well, it now looks like he is going there, and I hope Dale helps to give some clarity to the climate change and energy debate.
He certainly has done that locally for business in Gloucestershire.