Tuesday, 19 October 2010

LACK OF CASH OR LACK OF VISION?

The Severn Barrage was always an expensive unsustainable ‘silver bullet which was relentlessly pushed by New Labour's Peter Hain (and his ilk) to show off their allegedly green credentials, but, in truth it was more likely to have been used to offset the emissions from newly expanded Heathrow. There were plenty of opportunities to invest in and develop smaller, sustainable, less environmentally damaging and more credible renewable energy schemes in the estuary (and elsewhere), such as tidal lagoons and tidal reefs, which would have generated significant amounts of energy (with a far longer period of generation) with significantly less environmental damage, yet New Labour Government conspicuously failed to do so.

We should not expect too much from the Com Dem Coalition Government - it has already quietly shelved plans (17th August) for an independent inquiry into the £25bn-a-year energy industry which has been subject to repeated criticism surrounding accusations of profiteering on electricity and gas. So it should come as no surprise to even the most impartial observers of the consequences of a warm unquestioning and financial rewarding relationship (in cash and kind) between the political parties within the Westminster village (and without) and the energy supply companies.

For sometime before the last Westminster general election, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats made repeated criticisms of New Labour for its failure to tackle prices charged by the Big Six suppliers. Both the opposition parties demanded an inquiry by the Competition Commission. There was a hope that an inquiry into the nefarious activities of the energy supply cartel (sorry companies) might have had the power to reform the industry, encourage new entrants to break the hold of players such as British Gas, EDF and the others on 99 per cent of the market and even possibly impose price caps.

Sadly the ConDem government is equally unimaginative and lacks any aspirational vision for future sustainable green energy development. This failure to invest in renewable energy in the Severn Estuary is unforgivable and clearly shows why it is so important that energy powers be devolved to the National Assembly for Wales. We have rich natural resources and here in Wales we should priorities the development of sustainable, renewable energy. The lands of the Crown Estate off the Welsh shoreline and powers to develop major energy infrastructure must also be devolved immediately to the Welsh Assembly if we are to make any realistic progress on these important issues.

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