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The truths they don't want you to read....

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Manifestos compared - renewable energy

I'm reading the various manifestos and comparing their policies on renewable energy. Someone has to wade through the turgid prose and vague and vacuous statements to get to the root of what is being said.

This is a generally excellent document that ignores the stupid suggestion of a referendum on planning matters, other than the deliberately vague statement "We will involve all of Scotland in the preparation of extensive and effective clean energy legislation" (p29) which is a legal requirement for a national strategy anyway.

Excellent promises on energy saving and a zero-waste Scotland (although the Comhairle already do much of what is promised) and which are pretty much replicated by all the parties, with one exception.

The commitment to current legislation is confirmed, which means that the existing windfarm proposals will be considered as they stand, and the long overdue prospect of a new strategic planning framework for renewable energy is clearly stated (p31). Opponents of windfarms are thrown the prospect of "an early review of planning", which is simply a way of kicking it into the long grass for the duration of the next parliament (p33).

But there are down sides. Renewable energy development is to be based in Aberdeen and wave and tidal power focussed on the East Coast, rather than the West, where the potential is much, much, higher. This is a serious threat to the economy of the Western Isles and hugely undermines what the Comhairle have been trying to achieve over the past eight years (p32).

Overall 7/10. Must try harder to represent the whole of Scotland.

A much more wordy publication, it appears to have been put together by a less 'trendier' design agency than that used by the SNP, but one with verbal diarrhoea. Elementary mistakes, such as repeatedly referring to CO2 rather than CO2 make it a disconcerting read for those looking for informed comment.

As with the SNP, there are pledges to incentivise and encourage individuals to act 'green' but there are the added explicit targets of 50% of all electricity generation to be from renewables by 2020 (p68). Although, there is no word of how these will be achieved.

There are loads of vague promises to make sure the polices are integrated between refuse collection, recycling, encouraging public transport, improving building standards and ending fuel poverty. All very well and good but still a bit wooly and vague.

Overall 6/10. Too much wiggle room. Good ideas flawed by a lack of specifics.

Less professional than the other two, the manifesto for the environment is apparently a wholly owned subsidiary of Nicol Stephen. Very solid commitment to 100% renewable energy from wave and tidal (p32) without the worry of having to specify how these (as yet) unproven technologies will actually come anywhere close to delivering the promised 12.5% reduction in emissions by 2010 (p30). A rock solid commitment to micro-generation (p32+34) i.e. wind turbines on every roof, but no explanation of how this will fit with planning law in conservation zones. This was an SNP policy recently, until this very question was asked.

An aspiration to see wave generation in Scotland by the end of 2007 (p36), without any explanation of how this will happen, or even if it will work. What happens if it doesn't? More money, less money, or a new policy?

Big on small measures, such as changes to the VAT regime, to encourage participation. These are admirable in themselves, but hardly earth-shattering. VAT changes require Westminster to approve them, but even then I think that this is illegal without a rewriting of the Treaty of Europe. The Canary Islands have no VAT because the Spaniards wrote that into the accession document. If the LibDems can do THAT, then lets make the Western Isles duty free for petrol.

Overall - ideas 8/10, deliverability 4/10. It's good to be in opposition, when you will never have to implement your policies.

The entire policy appears to be: "At other times, government interference has manifested itself in the inappropriate placement of on-shore wind farm developments designed to meet central objectives made in Edinburgh. We will place a moratorium on all locally-opposed wind farm developments pending a National Location Strategy for such developments. This will complement our proposals to incentivise other forms of renewable energy, like tidal power and biomass."

Good, a central policy and strategy. MWT should note that the Tories are the only party to promise an explicit moratorium on windfarms (current or prospective is unclear).

Just realised that the policy would also stop local community schemes, if some of the community objected.

Overall 3/10. Must try and stop being all things to all men.

At this point your correspondent was hospitalised with post-manifesto dementia.


George Dutton said...

"At this point your correspondent was hospitalised with post-manifesto dementia."

Just in time NOT to say what SOLIDARITY and the SSP have to say?.

I see that part of Hillary Clinton`s manifesto is the well tried and tested "For a better tomorrow" in a speech she gave in the USA. A better tomorrow how many times have I heard that before?.If I could make a hot meal to give to every poor person in the world this night for ever time I have heard "for a better tomorrow" no one this night in the world would go hungry.

Alway`s a better tomorrow is the cry of the RIGHT but that better tomorrow NEVER comes.

Angus said...


My apologies, but I dealt only with the 4 parties who have candidates for this constituency. And on a particular "hot topic" for the Western Isles.

I intend to cast my net wider when I look at other policies.

George Dutton said...

Hi Angus

Excellent blog, one of the best I have seen.

It`s just I get fed up with Solidarity and the SSP getting blanked by the media. It`s as if they don`t exist.

In a devolved Scotland the SSP will campaign for...

The replacement of overhead pylons with underground cables where environmentally beneficial.

Copy and paste into address bar in two parts.

Anonymous said...

interesting to note that you criticise the SNP for not being all things to all people and the CONS for trying to do that - i know no party is ever perfect - but do you have to criticise everyone?!