Energy costs,  Environment,  MPs' expenses,  Scotland

Energy Expenses on Expenses

The Sunday Mirror reports on the option for MPs to claim gas and electricity bills for their second homes on expenses, and 340 have taken-up the offer. These includes the Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Caroline Flint who claimed £368.88.  This is just over three times the estimated average household bill accrued from ‘green taxes’ she defended as “only” £113 during Parliamentary questions related to Government proposals to restrict such policies.

Without meaning to sound too crudely populist, I imagine other earnest supporters of these levies will be making similar or greater claims from the public purse. Some of the rationale does from a sincere desire to secure future energy provision with declining supply of conventional carbon sources – even if there is a blindspot in considering nuclear power – but much also comes from a sense of  insouciance by highly paid policy setters such as Flint who, even when paying energy bills on their main residence, should be able to absorb it easily; and an attitude which sees publicly-funded and risk-free subsidies to already wealthy landowners as I have discussed before and which even the Grauniad has expressed unease at.

Likewise, it is easier for those on higher incomes to advocate price-controls on energy prices when an inevitable outcome – other than rolling outages – is price rises, as occurred after Ed Milliband’s vow to impose price-controls which I stated my disagreement with.  I would not be surprised that, on the event of a Labour victory in 2015, this proposal is either subtly forgotten about or reassessed in light of the exigences of the moment or conflicts with any Coalition partners.

To be fair, I do not hold the Leader of the Opposition responsible for confused energy policies which were set in motion before his appointment.  The main individual I hold responsible is the then Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change: the name is on the tip of my tongue.

Although publicly-funded schemes benefiting, if not daily life then the bank accounts of toffs in England are receiving more attention – notably towards the Earl of Spencer and Duke of Gloucester – Scotland remains the preserve of such schemes with the Scottish Government’s continued fantastical goal of 100% provision through wind/tidal by 2020.  That said, I still am hoping for a renewal to the Border Reivers following the Dukes of Westminster, Northumberland and Norfolk’s opposition to Roxburghe’s plans for windfarms in those Badlands.

(Back to the subject of energy expenses on expenses, various broken or misdirected links on the Scottish Parliament website means I cannot determine what MSPs claim.)

Lobbying groups which have easy access to Scottish Government ministers’ ears include Scottish Renewables, whose defences of ‘green taxes’ get reproduced uncritically in the regional press.  As commenters of the accompanying piece note, the assertion that there is greater generation from large-scale renewable projects than coal or gas lacks reference points: notably the coal/gas generated energy which is used in abundance in Scotland.  I also would question how many of these “large-scale renewable projects” are long-established hydro sites such as the Cruachan Dam.

At least I can spot the sleight of hand there.  I remain unsure where the 57p [weekly household cost from such policies] amount comes from, and the source material (departmental report and press-release from the predictably LibDem Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Ed Davey) does not dispel my ignornance.

(Plus, although commenters correctly note that the restricted ability of the quoted Inverness local councilor, Jim Crawford to sit on relevant planning committees because of his antipathy towards wind-energy whilst eager supporters’ are not, there are other reasons.)

Following the Battle of Grangemouth, there is a developing acceptance that shale gas imported by Ineos from North America for processing will underpin energy security for years to come.  Locally-extracted shale gas, however, is less welcome as lobbying groups are pushing the Scottish Government to impose for potentially wrecking measure of requiring exclusion zones between fracking sites and human habitations: as supportive as I would be not situating an oil refinery in a residential area, I do not think this is what is meant here.