Climate Change Bill -Mr Benn makes the climate hotter

On the 16th November I blogged about Mr Hilary Benn boasting that his proud new  Climate Change Bill would show the world real leadership at the forthcoming Climate Change Conference in Bali. It was clear to me at the time that Mr Benn had lost the plot, as have the whole government of the United Kingdom when it comes to dealing with reducing emissions. Continue reading

Nuclear energy, microgeneration and planning permission

On Tuesday the government published a new planning bill, which sets time tables and speeds up the planning process for large infrastructure projects such as power stations, airports, pipelines and fuel storage depots.

On Wednesday Gordon Brown indicated that a decision on nuclear power would be made in January, and at the same time he announced that the government would not “retreat” from this decision. Obviously once his mind is made up nothing will change it. Continue reading

Energy in the pipeline

Malcolm Wicks is the Energy Minister. This month he is turning a valve in South Wales which completes the final stage of a pipeline which has been built stretching 196 miles from Milford Haven to Gloucestershire. The pipeline will carry gas from Milford Haven but as there is no natural gas there it will use liquefied natural gas fuel which will be landed in giant tankers at the port and then converted into gas and sent along the pipeline. It has taken three years to build the pipeline and cost over £1 billion, but as we do need energy we now have a pipeline that will be able to carry one fifth of our gas needs. Continue reading

Energy Savings Trust – Trusting to save energy with a green barometer

The Energy Savings Trust is the United Kingdom’s agency for helping individuals (as opposed to businesses) to save energy. It does focus on energy savings, as its title suggests) but has some expertise in renewables. There is no specific government agency that promotes the use of micro generated renewable energy, but you would expect that in a government that straddles responsibility for energy, renewables, and climate change and carbon emissions over many different departments and whose energy minister does not have cabinet rank. Continue reading

Gordon Brown’s nuclear bomb

These days it seems that if you want to comment on a statement by the Prime Minister you have be aware that, rather like a film, the statement will be trailed, and then made, but the trailer is usually so extensive that you do not want to bother with the full version.

Today’s trailer is about a speech that Gordon Brown will make at the Confederation of British Industry. He calls for an acceleration of nuclear power. The trailer provides an extensive quote: “We must and will take the right long-term decisions to invest now for the next generation of sustainable and secure energy supplies.” Continue reading

Cheap seats at the opera

I do not enjoy opera but I can understand that many people do enjoy it. At its best it is a fabulous mixture of music, dancing, costumes, set design, lighting and. of course, singing. I think that it is good to have opera and for people to be able to enjoy it, although as an art form I think it ranks a long way behind plays, poetry, novels and painting. In London the Royal Opera House receives about a third of its funding from the taxpayer. I find that astonishing. Most taxes raised come from poor people and I have difficulty in understanding why poor people should subsidise rich people to watch the opera. Continue reading

Northern Rock or microgeneration?

The debate about the way that the government dealt with the Northern Rock crisis still rumbles on. Some have said that Mr Darling had no choice because he had to ensure that people retained confidence in the banking system. I cannot imagine that he took this decision without having cleared it with the Prime Minster, Gordon Brown.  Continue reading

The Carbon Trust gets audited

The Carbon Trust has been audited by the Audit Commission and has passed its audition. The Trust spends around £100 million a year advising businesses on how to save carbon and it is reckoned that this expenditure on advice saves somewhere between 1.2 million tonnes and 2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions each year. That is a large difference for an auditor to cope with, but the methodology of measuring emission savings is still not robust and will probably never be entirely satisfactory. Continue reading

Biomass power station in Port Talbot

When an American pharmaceutical company releases a new drug on the market, it often happens that the drug is approved and used in many countries before it is approved for use in the USA. It sometimes happens that USA approval is never given and a European country withdraws the drug after some bad side effects become apparent.  When this happens we have been used as guinea pigs.  Continue reading

Darling, you’re unlucky.

In January and February of this year I corresponded with Alistair Darling when he was Secretary of State for Trade about some serious failings and structural flaws in the Department of Trade and Industry’s Low Carbon Building Programme, which provided householders and not for profit organisations with some small grants to install microgeneration.  He never deigned to reply, although I did get a letter from Lord Truscott, a junior minister then, which was not a substantive reply but a boastful mini summary of what the letter writer obviously thought amounted to world beating climate change policies which involved the expenditure of £50 million of taxpayers’ money to support microgeneration. Continue reading