The Government abolishes the Merton Rule now Housebuilders rule, OK?

Last November Ms Yvette Cooper is a graduate of Oxford University where she studied PPE. Perhaps the philosophy part of the course concentrated on Machiavellian thinking because her statements could have been composed by the man who wrote “the Prince”.

Last November Ms Cooper having run a flag up the flagpole and found that no one saluted it, said she would haul it down again. Many people believed her, but she spoke with forked tongue. She proposed at first to abolish the Merton Rule, devised by Adrian Hewitt an officier at Merton, which enables local authorities to require that 10% of the energy from larger non residential developments come from on site renewables, as a condition of giving planning permission.

Many councils thought the rule a good idea and adopted it. As a result a lot of renewable energy was installed. It was expected that the rule be extended to residential developments.

When Ms Cooper talked about abolishing the rule there was an uproar. She backed down and actually wrote to Merton Council assuring them that the rule would not be abolished I blogged about this on 9th November 2007, pointing out that we might not be able to trust her assurance.

So it has, unfortunately proved. She has watered down the rule by introducing Planning Policy Statement & Climate Change Supplement to Planning Policy Statement 1. You can access it at

What the Government has now done is instead of incorporating the Merton Rule as Ms Cooper is to tell local authorities that ‘in developing their core strategy and supporting local development documents, planning authorities should provide a framework that promotes and encourages renewable and low-carbon energy generation.’

There are other broad words in the Supplement – so broad as to be almost meaningless. Ms Cooper has, despite her assurance, not enabled local authorities to require on site energy generation. I am sure that Ms Cooper might well be able to pick a form of words to argue that she has not broken her assurance, but improved upon it but that would be mere sophistry, the meaning of whch she probaly studied at Oxford.

This must be all part of Ms Cooper’s grandiose scheme to prevent climate change by allowing property developers and housebuilders to do what they feel is best for the environment. If we were ask Ms Cooper what positive steps the Government of which she forms part have done to reduce emissions she will talk about the statutory target in the Climate Change Act, the Emissions Trading Scheme, various requirements to ensure that energy consumer pay into a pot from which home insulation is funded, Home Information Packs, Zero Carbon Homes, but the whole raft, framework or whatever of policies does not amount, in the words of the film, to a hill of beans.

I shall briefly explain.

The Climate Change Act will by law oblige the Government to reduce emissions. It will be as effective as the legislation require the Government to abolish fuel poverty, currently affecting 4.5 million homes and rising.

Emissions Trading Schemes involve fictitious emission savings elsewhere in the world being given real money.

Home Insulation grants do save energy but not enough to make a difference.

Home Information Packs provide often misleading information about home energy consumption and no real indication of the measures needed to reduce emissions.

Zero Carbon Homes are about as achievable as a perpetual motion machine. No one knows what the concept means but everyone is too polite to tell Ms Cooper that her concept is full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

We will only actually reduce our emissions if we do not waste energy, if we conserve it and most importantly of all, if we source it from benign sources. We have to do this whether pressure groups like the House Builders want it to happen or not.

We entrust people like Ms Cooper to govern us and to protect us by subjugating our free will to the laws that we give them authority to make for us. The politicians tell us that our greatest long term danger is climate change. Their job must to be to protect us from that danger. If they do not make laws that protect us, because they are fearful of the house builders and property developers, then what is the point of government at all?

2 Responses

  1. Robert, if you were more Machiavellian and were energy minister or prime minister I am sure everybody would sleep much better at night knowing that things were in good hands!
    Isn’t Anarchy worse than politicians stealing our money and mismanaging everything, I don’t know the answer to that??? I guess there have been times in history where the government had less power than now, we are living in a police state with CCTV everywhere now which seems to be the answer to all our problems according to the government.

  2. Peter

    THoreau said “some say that Government is best that governs least; I say that government is best that governs not at all”.

    It is a point of view. If we do not improve our energy policies the whole world is heading for anarchy strife and lawlessness, as they everyone grabs what thye can.


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