Monday, 1 August 2011

The ultimate insult for Clarkson: His view's been ruined by a recycling tip

By Jonathan Brown

The Independent.  Monday, 1 August 2011

It is a development that will be savoured by environmentalists. Jeremy Clarkson, patron saint of petrol heads and serial denouncer of "eco-mentalists", can look forward to a recycling depot being built within a Lamborghini Murcielago's braking distance of his country home.

And for the growing band of critics of the so-called Chipping Norton set – the Cotswold hub to a certain David Cameron, Rebekah Brooks and Elisabeth Murdoch, as well as the Top Gear presenter and his family – there is a second, equally delicious twist. The man behind the campaign to move the existing plant from near the village of Dean, where the Camerons live, to a site next door to the Clarksons is Lord Chadlington, a close friend ofMr Cameron and president of theWest Oxfordshire Conservative Association.

Clarkson, who owns a sprawling Edwardian pile with an excellent view of the proposed site, feels powerless to stop the development. "It seems that my local council is thinking of moving the town's tip right next to my back garden," he said. "Normally, this is the sort of issue I would raise with my MP. Unfortunately my MP is David Cameron and, at present, the town's tip is right next to his back garden. I think therefore he won't be very sympathetic."

Dean Pit, where residents queue each weekend to recycle their household waste, is to close at the end of September. Were the new recycling plant not to be built near Chateau Clarkson, another proposed site was close to the home of the outgoing News International chief executive Ms Brooks. In a rare piece of good news for her, though, that site was rejected by West Oxfordshire District Council.

Lord Chadlington, who takes his noble title from the nearby Oxfordshire village where he lives, and is better known as Peter Selwyn Gummer, founder of the PR giant Shandwick, is said to have paid for a study by a group of independent experts looking at possible alternatives to the current site.

Mr Clarkson's fate was met with delight by local Greens, who picketed against the decision to award him an honorary degree at Oxford Brookes University in 2005 because of his outspoken views on climate change among other things. When the ceremony went ahead, the presenter received a custard pie in the face from a protester.

"It's got to go somewhere and I couldn't think of a better person than Jeremy Clarkson," cackled Councillor David Williams, group leader of the Oxfordshire Green Party. "He permeates a laddish culture where you put your foot down and burn as much fossil fuel as you can. He asked our members one day if they thought it was hot, referring to global warming. He said 'You can blame me for that.' That sort of joke doesn't go down well. The local environmentalists don't like Jeremy Clarkson and he doesn't like them."

Glyn Watkins of the group Chippy First said that some other locals did sympathise with Clarkson. "We don't see a great deal of him but he raises money for the lido which is used by Samantha Cameron and her kids," he said. "He also raises money for the hospice in Banbury. He does his bit.

"We hope he does complain to David Cameron but if he gets it moved it will be seen as a case of the old boys' act. He's damned whatever way he does it."

Clarkson on environmentalists

* "I've argued time and again that the old trade unionists and CND lesbians didn't go away. They just morphed into environmentalists. The red's become green but the goals remain the same. And there's no better way of achieving those goals than turning the lights out and winding the clock back to the Stone Age. Only when we're all eating leaves under a hammer and sickle will they be happy." (January 2008, Sunday Times)

* "These eco-people are the sort who were bullied at school. They have poor dress sense, limited social skills and they know they stand little chance of making much headway in the world, so they want it changed." (February 2008, Sunday Times)

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