Thursday, 31 January 2008

Charles Clarke: running scared of the Greens?

Charles Clarke is making national headlines today warning that Labour may lose the next general election. His concerns about Labour's prospects may be linked to last year's local election results in his own Norwich South constituency, where the Green Party came in first with 30% of the vote… And Norwich Greens have a strong chance of further gains at this year's local elections on 1st May. By 2010, which is when Clarke predicts there will be an election, we will be very strong indeed...

Charles Clarke knows full well that his constituency is one of the strongest prospects for a Green MP -- and that, we in Norwich Green Party believe, is why he is running scared.

Norwich South, btw, is one of three national Parliamentary target seats for the Green Party at the next General Election.

[Clarke's comments have been making headlines all day today on Radio 4. They have so far to my knowledge hit the Daily Mail: here, The Guardian, here and the BBC: here

The story was initially broken in this morning's _EDP_: here]

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Reasonable manners, in the blogosphere

Dear readers of Rupert's Read;
One thing I am pleased about about this blog is that when we have had debates or disagreements here, they have virtually always been good-tempered.
Because the norm out there in the blogosphere is often not like that. Take 'Comment is Free', for example, on the Guardian Unlimited site: the level of debate on CIF is pretty awful, frankly, in terms of civility. It is a very unpleasant place to take part in any debate, generally, unless perhaps (as most commenters do) one hides behind the veil of anonymity (which 'ain't allowed' here).
And the truth is, in case any fellow commenters reading this don't realise it, that there are many many people who get put off even reading (let alone posting to) CIF because of the volume of plain nasty comments that they risk getting, when they do.
I am slightly singling out CIF here, because I believe that this is actually one of the worst places on the blogosphere in terms of this kind of abuse. (Another particularly bad place is the comment-zone on Iain Dale's blog, but even that bear-pit is not as nasty as the comment on CIF often is.)
Long may good manners on Rupert's Read continue! Thanks to all of you reading this who help to ensure that I don't need to block anyone from commenting or moderate comments or delete comments (except very occasionally...)

Don't say 'terrorist'.

I am fed up with reading in the papers about 'terrorists' doing this and that.
Anyone remember Nelson Mandela being called a 'terrorist'? Well, he was, over and over, for many years.
Someone using the word "terrorist" is a fairly reliable symptom of an attempt to stop their readers thinking, and simply to scare and repel them from the people under discussion.
It is quite similar in that regard to the use of words such as "nigger", "kike", "towel-head", etc.

[For detail, I recommend a perusal of Steven Poole's fine book 'Unspeak'.]

And before I get flamed, let me remark that I myself am a convinced believer in and practitioner of non-violence. I don't condone asymmetric warfare. But neither do I condone lazy and 'violent' communication.

20 mph on residential streets, please!

Many streets in my ward are highly residential areas where, unfortunately, a small number of drivers drive TOO FAST.
For safety's sake, we need 20mph speed limits.

Furthermore: 'Modal shift' (to less polluting transport modes: bus, bike, foot) is the key to reducing carbon emissions. Cars driving too fast is the key reason why people do not shift to bike and foot. Ergo: reducing speed limits is the key to reducing carbon emissions.

20mph limits are green.

Saturday, 26 January 2008

Is the Green Party a single issue Party?

Well, yes, in a way we are ... the single issue is: all political issues, combined into one, wholistically. Because you cannot have (e.g.) a transport policy which is not simultaneously also a crime policy, an economic policy, an ecological policy, en education policy, a food and farming policy.... We are the only Party that truly believes in joined-up government. We look at things wholistically, unlike the other Parties. If that is being a 'single issue party', then I plead guilty!
Another way of putting it would be... the single issue is: saving the human race, and making life wonderful.

Friday, 25 January 2008

Boris, Brian, Sian and Ken, all making sense - now there's a turn-up!


Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Interest rate cuts will only worsen the debt crisis - and the coming recession

OK, so let's get this straight:
Low interest rates and easy money in the States (and Britain, and almost everywhere) led to a crisis in the 'sub-prime' mortgage market, which has brought on fears of a recession in the States (and everywhere). The Fed's response, as Wall Street cottons on to the danger of recession, and tumbles? Lower interest rates by three quarters of a percent, a week early!
Are these people complete imbeciles?
Let's get the next part of the story straight (i.e. what will happen over the next several months/years):
Eased credit in the States leads to a further bubble in the 'sub-prime' mortgage market (and probably also a sudden surge of inflation), which in due course will lead to a still worse crisis, and thus to a real recession...
The U.S. and U.K. nowadays are debt-ridden -- debt-sodden, debt-addicted -- countries, mortgaged to the hilt. The Fed has just redoubled that. It truly does beggar belief.

We are living beyond our means. It is time to get real. It is time for some thrift. It is time to stop believing that economies can keep growing, and debt keep rising, without a reckoning.
Through what they have done today, the Fed have simply blown a new, bigger bubble that will really bring the whole house of cards tumbling down a little down the line, far worse than if they had done nothing.
Thank God Mervyn King doesn't seem as much a fool as these fantasists who believe that they can con themselves and everyone else into eternal debt and eternal growth. But when America snots all over the world, as will happen just a little later, we may all yet catch pneumonia.

FOSSIL-FUEL INDUSTRIES MUST PAY TO DEAL WITH THEIR WASTE

Even conventional economists nowadays acknowledge that market ‘externalities’ should be paid for, to ‘internalise’ their costs: so, for instance, both the nuclear industry and the fossil fuel industry should be forced – wherever, whenever, and however feasible -- to pay the full (including the future) costs of the safe disposal of their wastes.

The implications of this simple and obvious statement are colossal. In the case of the nuclear industry, there is good reason to believe that it would finish the industry off: with uranium supplies fast-depleting, there is now a real question as to whether there is even enough usable nuclear energy left in the world to clean up the mess of the nuclear industry, past, present and future (for back-up for this claim, see www.theleaneconomyconnection.net/nuclear/Nuclear.pdf). The British government for one is at least pretending that in future the nuclear industry will have to include the cost of dealing with its waste within its business model (see e.g. http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/news/article.html?in_article_id=428999&in_page_id=2 ); whereas in the case of gas, oil and coal there is still no such pretence, even (fashionable blather about ‘clean coal’ notwithstanding). It simply strikes one as obvious that the nuclear industry should clean up its waste: why has the obvious parallel with the fossil fuel industries never been seriously explored? Let’s explore it a little: In the case of the companies that mine fossil-fuels, there should be a very substantial (and retrospective) windfall tax to cover the vast adaptation and mitigation costs of manmade climate change.

This proposal would not only be just; it would also play the vital role of hugely incentivising the development of renewable energy -- a point to which I will return momentarily.

It might be objected that applying this tax retrospectively would not be just, in that fossil fuel companies/suppliers have not always known about the polluting effect of their product. ‘Unfortunately’ (as noted by Richard Bramhall, in the analogous case of the asbestos industry, at http://www.guardian.co.uk/letters/story/0,,2240289,00.html ), ignorance in this regard is no defence in the eyes of the law. Nor of course is it a defence that some fossil-fuel companies have been wilfully funding climate-change-sceptical thinktanks, in order to try to make it appear as though maybe they are NOT responsible for polluting (with CO2) our eco-system to the dangerous point now reached… (see e.g. http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/campaigns/global-warming-and-energy/exxon-secrets ). The windfall tax that I am envisaging should be backdated at the very least to the time when a strong scientific consensus was reached on fossil fuels’ guiltiness in the case of Carbon Dioxide versus Humankind: say 1990, to give a very conservative estimate which can therefore hardly be disputed.

What renewables desperately need is fair costing of their rivals. Forcing the fossil fuel industries to pay for the vast greenhouse-gas pollution that they have caused might just bring about the green energy revolution that we desperately need, if our civilisation is to survive and flourish. Especially if the tax revenues concerned were put into R&D and subsidies for tidal, wave, solar, etc. …

It is astonishing really that the simplicity of the idea that motivates this article has never before, as far as my researches have shown, been applied directly to the most pressing case of all. If you make a mess, you should clean up after yourself – every child knows that. Our greenhouse-gas-full atmosphere is simply the biggest and most dangerous mess that corporations have ever made. Wouldn’t it be sweet, if the windfall profits of the Earth’s biggest polluters could be put to work to prevent the very climate catastrophe that their extraction and burning of fossil fuels has come close to bringing about?

Monday, 21 January 2008

An open letter to the _Guardian_ on nuclear disinformation

[I have been writing the _Guardian_ and other papers, to try to get them to stop calling nuclear a 'low' or 'zero' (!) carbon source of energy. I encourage readers to do the same! They aren't publishing my letters, perhaps because they don't appreciate the criticism. But how can I help but criticise, when they are so wrong on this?
Here is my most recent letter:]

Why does the _Guardian_ keep publishing articles that propagate the myth
that nuclear is 'low-carbon'? (The latest is Mark Milner and David Gow,
writing on Monday Jan. 26, including nuclear alongside renewables in their
article on the EU's efforts to incentivise green energy.) It surprises me
that so many _Guardian_
environment correspondents have swallowed this uber-myth of the nuclear
PR industry. Once one factors in the very substantial amount of energy
needed for mining, transporting and processing uranium, for
building nuclear power plants, for protecting them and their fuel
from sabotage and accident, etc, and once one includes the
vast amount of energy needed to decommission, monitor and protect
nuclear waste for hundreds of thousands of years, then nuclear
ends up with an absolutely huge carbon footprint -- and very
probably a negative net energy balance.
As David Fleming's sadly-neglected report on this vital issue
(www.theleaneconomyconnection.net/nuclear/Nuclear.pdf ) makes clear, the
real question now is whether nuclear power even has enough energy left,
from its fast-depleting uranium, to clean up its own wastes, let alone
to contribute anything to our energy needs beyond that.

I call upon the _Guardian_ to
engage in a public and journalistic investigation of the true carbon
footprint of nuclear.

Gazan humanitarian crisis shames us all

As I write, the terrible blockade on Gaza, which the world is barely noticing, is easing slightly. But it is truly terrible, that Israel is collectively-punishing the population of this 'open-air prison': http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/CC981B4C-A277-4F1F-B9FB-ADD6BCBB67E5.htm . They are literally killing the civilian people of this stateless place:
http://www.maannews.net/en/index.php?opr=ShowDetails&ID=27093

My partner Juliette wrote about this brewing crisis in our newspaper column, 9 days ago:
http://oneworldcolumn.org/192.html
Shame on the world indeed, for ignoring this desperate crisis...

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Compendium of my recent anti-nuclear arguments

I've been asked to put together the links to my arguments against nuclear. Here are the main ones:

http://rupertsread.blogspot.com/2008/01/my-on-air-destruction-of-nuclear.html
http://ourkingdom.opendemocracy.net/2008/01/09/our-short-termist-polity-was-always-going-to-go-nuclear/
http://ourkingdom.opendemocracy.net/2008/01/03/the-year-ahead-green-milestones-and-nuclear-millstones/

Plus this letter just sent to some papers in Eastern Region:

Dear Sir,

The Labour Government has decided to back more nuclear power stations. However, the Greens believe the arguments for nuclear power to be based on a series of misleading and false assumptions and are pledging to fight any new nuclear build in East Anglia.

It is expected that Sizewell in Suffolk and Bradwell in Essex will be likely sites for the new stations. The Government is also legislating to change the planning system, making it harder for local communities to have any real say in major infrastructure projects. Their undemocratic planning regime could be used to steamroller through a host of unsustainable and damaging projects including nuclear power plants, incinerators, motorways and airport expansion.

As I have said before, the taxpayer is going to pay through the nose if there are new nuclear power stations built in this country. Lets not forget that the reason that Governments stopped building nuclear power stations, a generation ago, is very simple: they are uneconomic. Nuclear power is a failed technology which should not be part of East Anglia's energy future!

Just consider these wrong-headed claims for nuclear:

1. Nuclear power is zero carbon – That’s a lie. The mining and processing of uranium ore is hugely-energy intensive, requiring the use of fossil fuels. Nuclear power plants are very large, energy-hungry buildings to construct and decommission.

2. Nuclear power can help fight dangerous climate change – That’s totally misleading, even if my rebuttal of point (1) above were wrong (which it isn't). If all the current nuclear power stations were replaced, by the 2020’s they would offset around 4% of the UK’s CO2 emissions.

3. Nuclear is a clean technology – That’s a lie. Despite being a nuclear state for over 50 years, the UK still does not know what to do with its growing mountain of nuclear waste.

4. Nuclear will secure the UK's growing long term energy need and avoid relying on imports so much – That’s false. New motorways and runways, lead to an ever increasing energy supply - Labour has failed to stop the relentless rise in demand for energy and CO2 emissions have consequently risen since 1997.

5. New nuclear power will not cost the taxpayer and will be financed from private companies – That’s highly unlikely. Almost all-nuclear facilities worldwide have required taxpayer support.

Cllr. Rupert Read.


Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Some problems with biofuels

People sometimes ask me why I am not keen on biofuels (except for small local re-used vegetable oil etc. biofuels, which are great.). Let me sketch a parallel.
One day, nuclear fusion might be great -- but not for a long time. In the meantime, vast funds are poured into nuclear research, whereas those funds are needed NOW for tidal, wave, etc.
The biofuels-craze is damaging our planet seriously NOW -- rainforests are being destroyed by the biofuels mania. Yes, there may be _relatively_ undamaging biofuels to come. But in the meantime Greens have to speak up to say that the current generation of biofuels is doing real damage -- now.
I was one of the founders of the East Anglian organisation 'Large Scale Biofuel Concern', which has since been absorbed into the excellent 'Biofuelwatch'. Biofuels on a large-scale are a 'techno-fix', and at present a very damaging one. They are NOT an ecological solution.
Biofuels give people the illusion that they can carry on driving just as much as they presently are.
Greens need to firmly resist the biofuels bubble.
For more info, check out the biofuels articles published at my column (primarily by Andrew Boswell and Jacqui McCarney), at

Monday, 14 January 2008

Sign up for the RSS feed for my column!

http://new.edp24.co.uk/content/rss/default.aspx?id=edpOneWorld
Sign up here for the RSS feed for my regular group newspaper column in the _EDP_, East Anglia's leading daily. It only takes one click, once you go to this page!

Saturday, 12 January 2008

A must-read report on nuclear

I am feeling depressed about the government's appalling embrace of nuclear power, fully backed by the Tories.
As David Fleming's chilling report (www.theleaneconomyconnection.net/nuclear/Nuclear.pdf ) makes clear, the real question now is whether nuclear power even has enough energy left to contribute, from its fast-depleting uranium, to clean up its own wastes, let alone to contribute anything to our energy needs beyond that.
Do read this report! Everyone ought to know what it says.

Friday, 11 January 2008

A Norwich Conservative Councillor speaks

Here's a real beauty, from Cllr. Eve Collishaw (Con.), at yesterday's Joint Highways Agency Committee meeting, on which I also sit:

"The public never understand transport schemes."

And another, a few minutes later, to 'explain' what she meant:

"If you have public meetings about transport schemes, you'll just waste a load of time and money, and it is nothing to do with democracy: Officers understand these schemes, ordinary people just don't."

How charmingly frank!

If this is representative of the level of 'respect' which Norwich Tory Councillors have for the intelligence of their voters, then perhaps those voters will particularly enjoy the chance to be equally 'frank' with Norwich's Conservatives, when democratically voting, this May 1st...

Thursday, 10 January 2008

My on-air destruction of nuclear

Goto http://www.bbc.co.uk/norfolk/local_radio/index.shtml , and then to 'Listen Again'. I am on 'Breakfast with Bumfrey', on Thurs Jan. 10, periodically from fairly soon after the start of the programme at 7a.m., until about 8.20.
[I set out my stall against nuclear from about 7.10 til 7.15, and we come back to it periodically after that. From about 7.40 til 8.20, there is some particular interesting _debate_ between myself and various pro-nuclear people phoning into Radio Norfolk.]

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Nuclear short-termism

NUCLEAR IS NOT LOW-CARBON: The failure of our political system to see through the nuclear spin

So, the Cabinet has (yesterday) spinelessly given the unanimous go-ahead for our kingdom to ‘go nuclear’ once again (http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601102&sid=arArd6CQxfXk&refer=uk ). The formal Parliamentary announcement that New Labour is taking the nuclear (power) option will come tomorrow. But we have known for years a few years now that this was a fait accompli, the consultation(s) a sham (http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/climate/greenpeace-formal-complaint-to-mrsc-over-nuclear-power-consultation ).

What made it a fait accompli? The excuse that nuclear power is ‘low-carbon’, at a time when the government is desperately trying to present itself as serious about manmade climate change.

The government is busy bribing local communities to mortgage their futures to take in what will be a huge tranche of new nuclear waste under their roofs (http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/article3312836.ece ). But the key issues which no-one is facing are: given that there is no solution still to the nuclear waste problem, and that that waste will be around for hundreds of thousands of years, how can nuclear possibly be economic? And how can it possibly be low-carbon? The failure to face these issues indicts the British political system.

Because we have to assume that even a very small amount of effort and oversight needed to keep that waste safe for thousands of human generations will cumulatively add up to a very large amount of money and a very large amount of CO2 emissions. (For a back of the envelope calculation on the devastatingly large amount of energy and carbon this would result in, see my blogpost at http://rupertsread.blogspot.com/2008/01/cumulative-co2-emissions-of-nuclear.html ; for a more scientifically-solid and much fuller version of the same, see David Fleming’s masterful report at http://www.theleaneconomyconnection.net/nuclear/Nuclear.pdf .)

It is often said that nuclear energy has about one third the carbon emissions of standard gas-fired fossil fuel sources. But the 'one third' figure is garbage because it simply excludes long-term decommissioning, monitoring etc. costs, the costs laid out at the websites just referred to. If these costs are included at all, in cost-benefit analyses, they are within a generation or two 'discounted' to virtually zero -- but that practice of 'discounting' assumes permanent economic growth! Is it really plausible to think that the problem that mathematically illustrated at the sites just referred to would be sidestepped by permanent economic growth? Only if one believes, insanely, that there are no ecological limits for the economy to reckon with. For instance, limits to the capacity of the atmosphere to absorb CO2…
A proper full calculation of 'lifetime' costs (i.e. the lifetime of the WASTE) shows a very HIGH amount of carbon coming from nuclear power generation. The emperor has no clothes -- any truly-long-term perspective surely shows that nuclear is simply NOT a low-carbon fuel (and nor is it ‘economic’). When Labour announce tomorrow that they are going ahead with building a new generation of nuclear power plants, they will not only be creating a deadly dangerous distraction, but doing it in the name of stopping dangerous climate change – which nuclear, for the reasons outlined here, cannot do.

If they were sincere about that goal, rather than being in the pockets of and in cahoots with a very well-financed and subsidy-hungry nuclear lobby (see www.nuclearspin.org , where this claim is evidenced), they would pour their effort and money and political capital into renewables, instead.

Am I really asserting that this government is cynically uninterested in doing anything effective to stop climate chaos? No. The underlying problem is that ‘mainstream’ politics in this country is wedded to the neo-liberal paradigm of political economy, and ‘environmentalism’ is added to that only as a kind of bolt-on. ‘Environmentalism’ can never deliver the transformation of our polity that is required. For that, we need ecologism, instead – a wholistic reassessment of our way of life. And this concept is just beyond the ken of Brown or Cameron. Looking for a ‘big-science’ techno-fix solution (of which nuclear is a classic example) is potentially compatible with environmentalism, but not with ecologism. Thus the receptiveness of the ears of our government to the siren song of the nuclearites -- while pitifully small programmes of grants for renewable energy projects run out hours after they are launched.

Environmentalism tries to care about the environment within the constraints of a system which despoils it. Ecologism plans wholistically and long-term from the beginning to avoid such despoliation. Most of the negative effects of nuclear power will come in the dreadful virtually-interminable legacy we risk leaving behind us, of waste and the waste of money and energy and lives that it will create. Our short-termist political system is ill-suited to the prevention of such waste. To become a truly long-termist, genuinely sustainable, ecological political system would require huge changes, beginning with the creation of democratic mechanisms to include the interests and needs of the untold generations of human beings who are as yet unborn. I hope to return to what those mechanisms might consist in, in a future post…

(A version of this post has also just been put online on OUR KINGDOM: http://ourkingdom.opendemocracy.net/2008/01/09/our-short-termist-polity-was-always-going-to-go-nuclear/ . If you want to make a comment, I strongly suggest making it there (as well as here), to hit the widest possible audience.)

The cumulative CO2 emissions of nuclear waste: A back-of-the-envelope job

If say just 10kg of coal were burned each hour for two hundred thousand years, in order to look after a given nuclear waste dump, then that adds up to about 20 million kg, or 20000 tonnes of coal. Now multiply that by say 2500, to represent the rough number of nuclear plants that would be needed across the world to satisfy current electricity demand alone: = 50 million tonnes. Now take into account the functional working lifetime of a nuclear plant: say 30 years. So, in 200,000 years, if we were running on nuclear, we would need to repeat the exercise about 6,000 times. Then the rough figure that one comes out with is that, for dealing with nuclear waste alone (ignoring entirely the other factors, such as for instance the increasing costs (in both cash and energy terms) of mining uranium, as it starts to run out), is that one would have to burn about 300 billion tonnes of coal, over a 200,000 years period. For dealing with nuclear waste alone. That is about one third of the total coal supply left in the Earth! And current estimates are that if we use more than a minute fraction of that total supply, we will bring about runaway climate change, and extinguish ourselves.

You can retort that it wouldn’t be coal that was burned: it would be nuclear power that was used to look after the nuclear waste. But remember first, that that would require yet many hundreds more nuclear power stations to be built each generation – and the energy for that, and for their nuclear waste, would have to come from somewhere; and second that nuclear power only covers at best our electricity needs, not our other energy needs.

[For a full scientific analysis to back up my little sketch here, see David Fleming's masterful deconstruction of the pseudo-attractions of a nuclear future, at http://www.theleaneconomyconnection.net/nuclear/Nuclear.pdf .]

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

I've joined Technorati

Nuclear lies

I say that it is a lie that nuclear is low-carbon, let alone carbon-free...:
Once one factors in the very substantial amount of energy needed for mining, transporting and processing uranium, for building nuclear power plants, for protecting them and their fuel from sabotage and accident, etc etc., and once one includes the vast amount of energy needed to decommission, monitor and protect nuclear waste for hundreds of thousands of years, then nuclear ends up with a stupendously huge carbon footprint. It is simply not true -- it is the grossest most misleading spin imaginable -- for advocates of nuclear power to claim that nuclear is a low-carbon source of enegy. The only true low-carbon sources of energy are renewables energy sources such as solar, wind and wave. Renewable energy can save us from dangerous climate change. Nuclear power cannot.
And furthermore, it is a lie that nuclear is low-cost...:
The government has secretly given the go-ahead for plans to collect a fee from the energy companies for each unit of electricity used in British homes to build up a fund to meet decommissiong costs for new nuclear power stations. Those of us with genuinely green electricity tariffs -- i.e. those of us whose electricity is coming wholly from renewable sources -- would presumably be exempt from paying this fee? It would be a
gross injustice if we had to pay the fee, despite not being users of nuclear power... The bottom line here is that the British taxpayer, and the British energy-consumer, is going to pay through the nose, if there are new nuclear power stations built in this country. Never forget that the reason that we stopped building nuclear power stations, a generation ago, is a very simple one: they are uneconomic.

The proof: UK's CO2 emissions HAVE risen.

I have blogged several times over the past few months to suggest that the UK's CO2 emissions are rising not falling (see e.g. http://rupertsread.blogspot.com/2007/12/britains-co2-emissions-in-reality-are.html and especially http://rupertsread.blogspot.com/2007/10/who-will-lead-on-combatting-dangerous.html ). Now, sadly, it appears that there is strong academic confirmation of what I have been saying:

UK carbon emissions risen not fallen – new paper:

A paper has just been published by Angela Druckman et al of Surrey University (Druckman A, Bradley P, Papathanasopoulou E, Jackson T. (2007) 'Measuring progress towards carbon reduction in the UK', latest issue of Ecological Economics).
The paper shows that that the accounting convention chosen for reporting carbon emissions radically changes the conclusions that may be drawn about UK's progress towards its carbon reduction targets. According to the UNFCCC reporting convention, carbon emissions fell by 5.6% between 1990 (the Kyoto base year) and 2004. However if calculations are based on figures produced in the UK Environmental Accounts, which additionally account for aviation and shipping emissions (excluded from the UNFCCC convention), the picture is less clear. On this basis, progress towards the Kyoto target appears to be almost wiped out, with carbon emissions having risen by 0.3% over the time period. More significantly, when emissions are estimated according to the consumption perspective, (which the report authors take to be the more appropriate approach), it appears that emissions have risen by 8% over the same time span.

Monday, 7 January 2008

Those responsible for NDR nepotism disaster should resign

So, we receive final confirmation today of what I predicted on this blog nearly 4 months ago [http://rupertsread.blogspot.com/2007/10/northern-lots-of-unwanted-new.html ]: that the government does indeed firmly believe that the decision of Norfolk County Council to award the contract to build the NDR (Northern Distributor Road) to their ‘colleagues’ at May Gurney was “legally unsound” [ See today’s EVENING NEWS: http://www.eveningnews24.co.uk/content/news/story.aspx?brand=ENOnline&category=NewsSplash&tBrand=ENOnline&tCategory=NewsSplash&itemid=NOED07%20Jan%202008%2009%3A11%3A43%3A067 ].

This dreadful mistake by the County Council – a mistake which was totally predictable, and which was in fact predicted (the prediction in fact first appears in the public record in some comments made by my colleague Green Party County Councillor Andrew Boswell (see below), way back in July), and yet which, remarkably, officers and Tories on Norfolk County Council are still defending, even after the government have ruled it illegal – will delay building of the NDR by about 2 years (sob…) and (and in a way much more important) will probably cost the taxpayer millions.

Any self-respecting person, under such circumstances, would resign. One is left to draw one’s own conclusions about Adrian Gunson and the other negligent individuals who have created this fiasco.

I am outraged that the people of Norfolk -- every single taxpayer, myself included -- will have to pay more Council tax or lose invaluable Council services, because of this nepotistic incompetence. Is it any coincidence, that there are several letters on the Letters page in today’s EVENING NEWS, which rightly bemoan the fact that the County Council is proposing to make £22m in cuts in services, this year! How unacceptable is that: waste Council-tax-payers’ money by messing up your effort to build a (huge climate-dangerous) road, and at the same time cut virtually everything else in the Council to the bone…!

As I say: if they had any civic pride and self-respect, those responsible would now gracefully take full responsibility – and resign.

Appendix: How Greens have been warning of this fiasco in the making for 6 months:

On July 24th, 2007, Andrew Boswell specifically raised the issue of legality and the likely challenge to the Councl from the DfT at the Norfolk County Council Cabinet Scrutiny meeting. These are the minutes of his question and the answers from the Cabinet member and officers involved (emphases added):

Dr Boswell commented that the need to seek Department for Transport (DfT) approval to appoint May Gurney raised the question that despite legal opinion, DfT might still have concerns. When would DfT give its opinion? What confidence did NCC have that legal opinion wouldn’t be challenged either by DfT or the European Union (EU) or local competition? Also, how confident was the County Council that the £61m from the Regional Funding Allocation would be available.

The Cabinet Member explained that both the Audit Commission and the Government had supported the SPC. Just because NCC was one of the first local authorities to use the arrangement, didn’t mean it was the wrong approach. NCC had already saved millions through the Partnership.

The Head of Law added that decisions were always open to challenge, but that NCC was as confident as it could be. Every avenue had been pursued to get the assurance NCC needed that it had taken the correct route.

The Director of Planning and Transportation added that he couldn’t see why DfT would have a problem as the SPC was emerging standard practice. Nevertheless, securing DfT support was critical and Planning and Transportation would be seeking an early meeting. The SPC would allow a flexible approach to the extent that there was uncertainty about the Regional Funding Allocation.

Friday, 4 January 2008

Let's get Norwich's boundaries right

2008 is the year that will decide the dimensions of the new Norwich unitary authority decided. The area currently proposed for the greater Norwich unitary authority is FAR TOO LARGE. ...Norwich Green Party wants the full Norwich urban area to be included in the new Norwich unitary authority. It is is a nonsense for places like Sprowston and Hellesdon to be 'outside Norwich', when they are plainly part of Norwich -- it makes proper planning in andof the city impossible. ...But we will _oppose_ the move to a unitary authority, in the final analysis, if the Boundary Commission decides to include swathes of rural Norfolk including villages or even possibly surrounding market towns in the area of 'Norwich'. (See "Greens launch 'middle way' campaign on boundaries of unitary Norwich", at

http://www.norwichgreenparty.org/default.aspx?url=http://www.norwichgreenparty.org/archive_news.html

for details).

Thursday, 3 January 2008

Milestones and millstones: RR's latest piece on OUR KINGDOM

My latest piece on 'OK': "Green milestones and nuclear millstones". Why not read the post, and make a comment there, joining the debate?
http://ourkingdom.opendemocracy.net/2008/01/03/the-year-ahead-green-milestones-and-nuclear-millstones/

1. 2. 3. Rupert's Read: January 2008 4. 12. 15. 18. 19. 20. 21.

Rupert's Read

22. 23. 31. 32.