Tuesday, 11 June 2013

MPs want to turn your lights off. A shame no one told you

Within six years you could be expected to reduce your electricity consumption by a quarter

What MPs were being asked to endorse was that, within just six years, we should all be forced by law to make a mind-boggling cut in how much electricity we are allowed to use.

The reason why no one seemed to grasp this was that the amendment was so opaquely dressed up that only an MP with some knowledge of the basics of electricity might have twigged the enormity of what was being proposed. By 2020, it said, Britain must reduce its electricity use by “103 terawatt hours”, rising by 2030 to “154 terawatt hours”. This could have been understood only by someone aware that we currently use each year some 378 “terawatt hours”. So what was being proposed was that this must be cut down in six years by 27 per cent – more than a quarter – rising 10 years later to a cut of more than 40 per cent, or two fifths.

In the course of his mind-numbing speech, Greg Barker, the minister proposing this, carefully avoided any explanation of what it was all about. Not one MP picked him up on it. At the end of a vacuous debate, during much of which the House was virtually empty, MPs dutifully poured in from all over Westminster to nod the Bill through by 396 votes to eight.

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Greg Barker Next Scalp ?

Probably, if this were a World War II fighter base, the shooting down in flames of Tim Yeo MP would count as a shared kill. After all, we've each of us had a good burst at him – Christopher Booker, Richard North, David Rose, Bishop Hill and – the coup de grace! – the Sunday Times team responsible for that sting at the weekend.

For me, quite the biggest scandal of our era is the one involving energy policy and the great climate change scam. The damage it has done to our economy is incalculable. It has resulted in honest men from Johnny Ball and David Bellamy to Nigel Lawson and Peter Lilley being vilified and marginalised, while dishonest men (whether grant-troughing scientists or cynical, greedy politicians or rent-seeking businesses) have been rewarded. It has damaged our landscape, corrupted public debate, ruined people's lives. It has enriched the few at the expense of the many.

None of this would have been possible without the complicity of politicians like Tim Yeo, Greg Barker, Chris Huhne, Peter Hain, Ed Davey, Luciana Berger, Alex Salmond, Lord Deben, Lord Marland, Greg Clark, and all the other assiduous promoters of the great "man-made-global-warming" myth. Each of them, Conservative, LibDem, Labour, SNP alike, has failed what I would consider to be the most basic test by which we should judge our politicians: have their policies made things better or worse for the electorate they supposedly serve?

In the case of almost every measure that has been introduced by parliament in the last twenty years or so – from the Climate Change Act to our current policies on wind farms, biomass and renewables generally – has been an abject disaster for the British people.

Tim Yeo, as we know, has been making £200,000 a year on top of his basic parliamentary salary from his various green business interests. What does it say about our political system that he was simultaneously permitted to act as chairman of the parliamentary committee charged with scrutinising the government department – DECC – primarily responsible for deciding green policy? And what does it say about the state of our media that this scandal was not exposed years ago?

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'Only 200 homes' signed up for Green Deal energy loans

Fewer than 200 homes have signed up for the government's flagship Green Deal so far, the BBC has learned.

The policy, launched in January, offers long-term loans for energy-saving home improvement work.

People in England, Scotland and Wales can spend the money on new boilers or insulation and repay it over a maximum of 25 years, through energy bills.

Almost 19,000 homes have been assessed so far but very few householders have gone on to take out the loans.

The move to insulate the UK's ageing housing stock is designed to reduce carbon emissions, keep people warm, and make energy affordable.

The idea is to give loans for home improvements - but the work must pay for itself over 25 years through lower bills.

BBC Radio 4's You and Yours programme has learned that fewer than 200 people have signed up for the Green Deal so far.
In March, Energy Minister Greg Barker said he hoped to have at least 10,000 signed up by the end of the year.

But although the policy officially launched in January, there have been some delays with setting up the funding to allow installation work to be carried out.

And Paula Owen, an independent consultant in the energy sector, said a complicated rule that meant the loan is attached to the property, not the homeowner, meant people were a little wary of being the first to sign up.

She said that people were worried about whether it would affect their ability to sell their houses in future.

"I think not, but some areas of the housing industry are putting that fear into people's minds too."

She said more had to be done to make sure the Green Deal was "communicated properly to the public".

The government has stressed that the Green Deal is intended to be a long-term policy.

A spokesman for the Department for Energy and Climate Change said: "The Green Deal is an ambitious 20-year programme designed to deliver home improvement in Great Britain on an unprecedented scale. It's only just getting started.

"Official numbers on installations will be available at the end of June. However, the early signs are encouraging, with over 18,000 assessments carried out before the end of April and the supply chain building steadily."

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