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Tory Lord Howell has apologised for "any offence caused" by his comments about fracking, and insisted he did not believe the north east was "desolate".
Senior Conservative Peer Lord Howell has sparked fury suggesting that parts of the North East were desolate. See Kenny Toal's full report here
Baroness Quin has just sent me an abridged copy of her letter to Lord Howell over his 'desolate' North East comments. In it she asks, "what were the 'desolate' and 'uninhabited' areas to which you were referring?"
"The North East's areas of population are fortunate in being surrounded by areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, whether it be the Northumberland National Park, the North Pennines, Teesdale or the North York Moors. These landscapes rival anything to be found in the UK."
"It would be good if you could assure me that you believe that all residents in the UK wherever they live should have equal rights to be consulted and have their views taken into account in proposals for energy exploitation and other measures."
Fellow Tory peer Lord Bates says Lord Howell should 'come and see the delights of the North East'. Laughing off the peer's comments as a possible 'slip of the tongue', he says there is also a serious point - the potential for fracking to create thousands of jobs in the North East.
Labour peer and former Gateshead MP Baroness Quin says Lord Howell's comments show his 'ignorance' about the North. She'll write to the Tory peer, who's also Chancellor George Osborne's father-in-law, asking him to clarify what he meant by 'uninhabited and desolate' parts of the North East.