Drax delay is unacceptable

0
Have your say

it WOULD be easy to dismiss today’s Parliamentary report into energy policy as just another example of MPs letting off steam. It is nothing of the sort – despite the familiarity of the arguments put forward. It is a devastating expose of the workings of government, and the price that Britain is paying for a decade of delay and dither over carbon capture and storage projects.

IT WOULD be easy to dismiss today’s Parliamentary report into energy policy as just another example of MPs letting off steam. It is nothing of the sort – despite the familiarity of the arguments put forward. It is a devastating expose of the workings of government, and the price that Britain is paying for a decade of delay and dither over carbon capture and storage projects.

Even though it is not the burning question ahead of tomorrow’s European and local elections, the policy is of profound importance both to Yorkshire and the future of one of its major power stations.

If a Minister was prepared to take a decision on a policy which was first advocated 10 years ago, it would enable Drax to develop pioneering carbon capture technology that would breathe new life into the region’s traditional manufacturing industries and help them to honour their obligations to the environment. The benefits do not end there. This project alone could be worth £1.3bn to the Yorkshire economy and create 4,000 much-needed jobs. Yet, despite a competition being launched in 2007 – when one Ed Miliband was Energy Secretary – to find suitable trial sites, the policy is stuck in a vacuum. The select committee’s findings are worth repeating: “The ‘competition’ the Government launched... has turned out to be a model example of how not to support a fledgling industry.”

It gets worse – committee chairman Tim Yeo has warned of the likelihood of further delays if a decision is put on hold until after the next election. This does not inspire confidence in the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s ability to secure sufficient sources of power to keep Britain’s lights burning. Instead it provides further fuel to those who question the country’s ability to build HS2 on time – and on budget. As such, the coalition’s response is awaited with interest.

Food for thought

Miliband and the cost of living

IF ED Miliband is unsure about the cost of his family’s weekly grocery bill, why should he be entrusted with the nation’s finances? This is the conundrum facing voters after the Labour leader and Doncaster MP appeared to under-estimate the cost of food.

His local difficulty can be read two ways. Some will say that Mr Miliband’s estimate of £80, later revised upwards, is on the frugal side for a family-of-four. The low-waged in his constituency, however, may regard this sum as being on the extravagant side.

Either way, this controversy will strengthen the view that Britain’s leaders are insulated from the day-to-day difficulties facing families across the country.

However it is particularly embarrassing for Labour because the “cost of living” is its primary campaign theme, and such hesitancy will not assuage those who question the Opposition’s wider economic approach.

This viewpoint was self-evident at yesterday’s Police Federation annual conference when Yvette Cooper, the Shadow Home Secretary, claimed that emergency response times are now slower as a result of coalition cuts. Taken to a logical conclusion, the answer is more police officers. Is this affordable?

This is the question that families have to ask themselves when they prepare the weekly grocery shop, including the Miliband household. It is also a mantra that Labour needs to apply to every policy. For, unless it can prove its ability to keep a lid on spending, it will struggle to win back the support of those people paying a heavy price for the profligacy of the past.

A genuine great

Phil Sharpe’s cricketing legacy

IT IS an irony of timing that Phil Sharpe’s death coincided with England’s first Twenty20 international of the summer, an abridged form of cricket that places a premium on the importance of fielding. A pugnacious batsman who helped Yorkshire to win seven County Championship titles and whose prowess deserved far more than the 12 England Test caps that he received, he will be primarily remembered for his brilliant slip fielding.

His proficiency, in an era when the South African player Colin Bland was taking cover fielding to new levels of brilliance, helped to transform cricket and bring about the adage, frequently used by Geoffrey Boycott on Test Match Special, that “catches win matches”. A fielder compared favourably to Mark Waugh, Bobby Simpson and Sir Ian Botham, the adroitness of Phil Sharpe is the reason why today’s players are not just judged on their ability to score runs or take wickets, but whether they can pull off those spectacular reflex catches that were the hallmark of this genuine great of Yorkshire cricket.