My Column – Target-Driven Madness: UK Energy Policy

Perhaps nowhere is the short-termism of British politics better seen than in energy. Here, the Left-Right divide is stark but utterly meaningless. But perhaps the concept of Left and Right is outdated since the rise of Ukip, a Party with a blend of traditionally right-wing and traditionally left-wing thinking combined under the umbrella of common sense.

With energy, it is the Right which seems to be concerned about the cost of energy to working people; the Left, about meeting arbitrary environmental targets irrespective of cost. Just like Ukip’s approach to crime (which cuts through the old Right-Left deterrence-rehabilitation argument by seeing criminal justice not as a choice between the two but as two sides of the same coin), our energy stance cuts through the political spin. We are derided for it by an established political class which is bereft of its own new ideas. This article, though, is my own personal thoughts rather than a statement of Ukip policy.

Biomass is a textbook example of target-driven government policy missing an open goal. When a tree in the UK is cut down, it needs to be dried out (up to 50% of the weight is likely to be water due to our wet climate) and then processed. Pretty much every part of the tree is useful for something. Even sawdust can be used for example in the production of chipboard.

Whatever the wood itself has been used for, at the end of its life it can be recycled. Once the nails and other contaminants have been removed, it can be used again. At each stage of the process, there will be some dust which isn’t really suitable for making anything. It might be that, on average, the same piece of wood could be used and recycled six times. In that time, it has perhaps been an internal door, a kitchen surface, laminate flooring and a chest of drawers.

 

You can read the rest of my article at my Huffington Post blog here.

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